ENGLAND hero Paul Sackey is set to scrum down on the beach in Clacton.

Clacton Rugby Club are staging their fourth annual beach tournament but this year’s event has been given a major boost.

For the first time, it has been ‘upgraded’ by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and is now part of their national ‘Scrum on the Beach’ series.

Clacton is one of only eight venues nationwide chosen to play hosts and Saturday’s tournament on the Martello Beach will be the first of 2009.

“It’s a huge coup for our town to be chosen by the RFU,” said Clacton Rugby Club fixture secretary and press officer Colin Garrod.

“It’s a real feather in our cap and should be a spectacular day.

“Our beach rugby competitions have always been successful and popular but this year will be even bigger and better, with a much higher profile.

“Thirty-five teams have already entered – the maximum we can manage – and five beach pitches will be used.

“The event is a family day, so the teams are a mixture of young and old and of both sexes, with the emphasis on fun rather than winning.

“And hopefully, if the weather’s good, we’ll get a really big crowd down there to watch.

“It’s completely free and should be very entertaining.”

Sackey, who could be joined by other England team-mates, is fronting the event on behalf of sponsors O2.

The England winger will be encouraging rugby fans to get involved and put their beach rugby skills to the test.

He will also be looking for the teams with the best style, both on and off the pitch.

The eight most classy sides, judged on style of play, look and attitude, will win the chance to play at a tag tournament at Twickenham in September.

“O2 Scrum on the Beach is a great way to have fun and stay involved with rugby this summer,” said Sackey.

“This year we’re looking for some seriously stylish teams – with the most impressive getting to play at Twickenham.

“That should give you even more of an incentive to get down to the events and show off your skills.”

As well as the pitches on the beach, O2 are bringing along their inflatable ‘Play Zone’.

The event – part of the RFU’s Play On campaign, sponsored by O2 – has been staged with assistance from Tendring District Council and Andrew Sarek, at the Eastern Counties RFU.

It will run from 11am and continue throughout the afternoon.

After Clacton, the other ‘Scrum on the Beach’ venues are Great Yarmouth (July 11), Southport (July 18), Bournemouth (July 25), Weymouth (August 1), Newcastle (August 8 and 9), Skegness (August 15) and Newquay (August 28 to 30).