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Bill Lees is on top of the world after England Men’s 45 European Championship victory

Driffield touch rugby star Bill Lees said he feels on top of the world after being part of England Men’s 45 European Championship winning squad.

The 47-year-old spent last week in Nottingham as part of the England squad for over 45s which claimed gold on Saturday 6th August in a nailbiting final won on sudden death against Wales.

Bill, who has been a member of Driffield touch rugby since 2017 and part of the national team for three years, more than played his part in the tournament, scoring a hat-trick in England’s victory over Switzerland and seven tries overall.

It’s an amazing feeling. I feel about six inches taller and on top of the world

bill lees

He told the Wolds Weekly that it was difficult to put his emotions into words.

“It’s hard to put into words how it feels to be a European champion,” said Bill, who lives in Weaverthorpe.

“It means everything to me.

“Just going to the tournament was a big thing in itself for me, but to win, it really hasn’t sunk in yet.

“To look back at all the effort I have put in, to keep up my fitness and improve and learn new skills, it makes it all worthwhile.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I feel about six inches taller and on top of the world.”

England won 10 from 10 in the round robin phase of the European Championships, beating Wales, Scotland, Switzerland, France and Portugal twice.

They progressed to the semi-finals against Switzerland, earning a comfortable 5-0 victory before the showdown with the Welsh.

Despite two wins over their rivals in the group stage, the title looked beyond the English at one stage as they trailed 2-0 and were without two of their key players.

However, a storming fight back took the game into extra-time and, with still no score, sudden death was played and, thankfully for Bill and his teammates, they prevailed.

“Having won all our group games, we perhaps went into the final overly optimistic,” explained Bill.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have been since one of our key players was missing with a dislocated shoulder and another had suspected concussion.

“We were 2-0 down for a big chunk of the match, but we were always confident we could come back as we’d been behind in the group phase a couple of times and managed to win.

“We knew that if we stuck at it, the game would turn our way and we managed to force extra-time.

“In sudden death, teams were reduced from six-a-side down to three and I was one of the few who was still standing and thankfully we managed to win.

“The Euros are on again next year and it would be great to be picked once again.”

Bill was joined in Nottingham by his daughter, sister and nephews who cheered him on along the way.

He said the benefits touch rugby has had on his life are huge and recommended others to take up the sport.

“It was great to be able to celebrate the win with some of my family, it’s the first time I’ve played with supporters on the sideline,” he continued.

“It’s amazing to think how far I’ve come since first attending a touch rugby session at Driffield in 2017.

“There were about 40 people at that session and I was the quiet one stood at the back who was picked last, even after the juniors.

“When I joined, I was a bit of a recluse and borderline depressed, however since then I have made new friends and had a great time, no matter where I have played.

“You can search for any touch rugby sessions and you can turn up and be made to feel welcome.

“I have played in Scarborough, York and Leeds and had that exact feeling.

“Whether you’re a former player, wanting to learn a new skill or just looking for something to do, the fitness and social benefits are huge.”

Driffield touch rugby sessions take place on Monday and Friday evenings on Driffield Rugby Club’s Kelleythorpe training pitches.

Monday sessions are for over 14s and take place from 7-8:30pm, whilst Friday evenings are family sessions for those 12 and above, taking place at the same time.

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