DMP Sharks were facing a bleak future - until the local community stepped up to help them stave off administration; crowdfunding appeal raised over £30,000 in just a few days; co-captain Mackenzie Thomas-Roberts says: "We had girls prepared to sell their jerseys to help raise money"
Last Updated: 24/11/22 8:41pm
Rugby's financial crisis has been laid bare in recent months with the plights of Worcester Warriors and Wasps - but there is now a feelgood story in the salvation of women's side DMP Sharks.
The Darlington-based outfit were on the verge of dropping out of the Allianz Premier 15s, the top division of women's domestic rugby in England, having needed to raise £50,000 to retain their place.
Sharks launched a crowdfunding campaign and the local community came to their rescue with over £32,000 generated in just a few days, helping the club confirm their inclusion in this season's league.
The funds raised will allow Sharks - the only fully amateur side in the Allianz Premier 15s and the sole top-flight team in the north east of England - to cover travel, accommodation and medical fees.
Those efforts were supported by Vodafone, who stepped in with a front-of-shirt sponsorship deal and whose partnership with Sharks extends to the junior teams and helping produce players of the future.
Sharks co-captain Mackenzie Thomas-Roberts said: "It was really emotional but seeing the fans and the local community get behind us was incredible.
"We even had young girls who were prepared to sell their jerseys to help raise money for the team. These are the players that we want to inspire, and we hope that one day they will come and play for us."
Sharks coach Mark Luffman added: "You can't put it into words. We have had quite a tough start from the beginning of pre-season, and it has been amazing to have funding from Vodafone. Their financial support is crucial to our mentality and professionalism going forward.
"We want to be at the forefront of the premiership and now with backing from Vodafone and the local community it is only going to push us to achieve more."