AUTUMN 2020 / ISSUE 12
Contents Game development
Fylde RFC - Developing and retaining players at a community club..........................................02
London Welsh ............................................... 20
Otley RUFC - Embarking on an exciting relocation..............................06
London Irish Amateurs ............................ 22
Q&A with Jon Arch, Head Coach at Aldridge RFC.............................................10
Chinnor RFC ..................................................... 21 Darlington Mowden Park ........................ 21 Fullerians RFC ................................................ 22
In Focus blOKes .................................................................15
Commerical news Camberley RFC ............................................. 16 Redruth Rugby Club ................................. 16 Greenock Wanderers ................................ 16 Richmond Rugby ........................................ 16 Newmarket Rugby Club .......................... 17
Opinion Dave Swanton - The lockdown fallout: what happens next?..................Â 18
Facilities news Teddington RFC ........................................... 30 Marlow RUFC ................................................. 30 Kettering RFC ................................................. 31 Tynedale RFC .................................................. 31
Professional game Latest top stories ......................................... 32
See page 06
See page 10
See page 02
Game development Featured Club: Fylde RFC
Developing and retaining players at a community club Rugby Blindside recently spoke with Warren Spragg, Fylde Rugby Head Coach, who told us about the history of Fylde RFC and how he has helped the club develop in recent years. Even many local people do not know the origination of the word ‘Fylde’. In fact, it dates back to Saxon times and means ‘low lying ground between two Estuaries!’ Equally, the story of the Fylde Rugby Club is very interesting as back in July 1919 the the club was born literally on the toss of a coin. On July 25th Manchester businessmen met at the Ansdell Institute to discuss the formation of either a rugby or football Club. A coin was tossed and it fell in favour of rugby. From such small beginnings, Fylde grew and after 95 years it is a nationally respected club with a strong brand name in English rugby. It was in May 1920 that the present Woodlands site, although not in its present state, was used for rugby. In those days the admission was 5d and the first yearly gate receipts amounted to just over £57. In 1922, Harold Brooks was elected President and through his efforts Fylde progressed. He also generously provided the present stand. As far back as 1924 the club were represented in the Lancashire team by many famous names such as ‘Ham’ Neville, who was capped 33 times, and ‘Pop’ Ogden, who was classed as the greatest kicker of the time. He was the originator of the ‘round the corner’ style of kicking now used by more or less all kickers worldwide. The club was strengthened by the merger with Blackpool Old Boys in 1934/5. Today, the teams still go onto the field wearing the colours of claret, gold and white, which were really the colours of the Huddersfield Old Boys. For some reason, this mystery has not been resolved and the colours have not changed.
Image: Mike Pratt
Featured Club: Fylde RFC Like so many clubs, Fylde is trying in this professional era to maintain a balance between a members club, based on traditional local community values and structures, and a professional outfit able to compete for players, regionally and nationally. The Club has reasserted itself as a community-oriented, members club, basically amateur, bringing together experienced players in the locality and region, together with nurturing considerable local talent. The club currently fields 10 mini/junior sides, a Colts squads and four senior sides. Fylde is a family club where everybody is welcome. Warren has been at Fylde since 2012, firstly as a player and S&C coach, then as backs coach, before taking the role of Head Coach for the 2017-18 season. He told us what the situation was like when he took over as Head Coach. He said: "We had been a strong team in National 1 with lots of experienced players who were coming towards the end of their playing days or had already decided to move on. This was clearly a difficult place to start but it gave me the opportunity to set out a vision of a playing squad who would learn, develop and build a promising future together through their shared experiences. We were relegated, but followed up with a positive first season in National 2 North, then we were pushing hard until the outbreak and stop of all rugby activities. I am really proud of the work we have put in until this point and have been doing behind the scenes while we anxiously wait for the restart."
Player development and retention is an important part of game development at any level. Warren explained the sort of challenges that Flyde RFC face regarding player development and retention.
He said: "Player development and retention is different at all clubs, especially in the National leagues. For me, the unique mix of history, aspirations, and resources makes every Saturday afternoon an unbelievable experience. Whether you are being berated by the venerable home crowd at Wharfedale, or enduring the less sophisticated but often funnier student banter at Loughborough’s state of the art facilities, you realise that the external environments may change but we still have the same job to do. Clubs and coaches need to be able to field the best team possible to compete at the highest level they aspire to. Finances clearly have a part to play in the equation, but more money doesn’t guarantee success and there is a real need to retain and develop players which goes beyond the match fees on offer." So what does development and retention look like? For Warren it comes down to a few simple areas: Challenge, Enjoyment, and Integrity. He explained this to us: "Challenge looks different for players on an individual level than it does for the team. Some players may need clear performance outcomes during matches. This can be applied easily with video analysis and statistics on tackles, touches, support play and so on. Others might need increased responsibility, such as involvement in leadership or tactical groups, while some might need to be pushed hard in training to get their work rate up to the expectations of the group. Challenging players appropriately also tells you a lot about character, which is incredibly important for player and squad development. If members of your team don’t want to be challenged, development will be difficult and you will struggle to keep your better players engaged and committed. Challenging the team comes from clearly stating your ambition and collectively pushing towards it. Everybody needs to commit or “buy in” to a shared purpose and this needs to be consistently reinforced, rewarded when things are moving forwards, and reviewed when things aren’t working. Players can then focus on their appropriate individual challenge when they have the clarity of what is required for the team. "Enjoyment can be misunderstood in sport. This doesn’t mean endless socials and joking around in training. It is more about feeling that you are doing something meaningful with purpose to it. The difference between 10 minutes engaged in an activity that challenges skill and decision making
at high intensity or 10 minutes of a mindless drill without learning is massive for players. When you can train and play how you want to play the rewards are amazing. So we train with purpose and clarity, always aimed towards evolving our style of play. When we improve in training we are happy and when we execute it on a Saturday afternoon we are even happier! Can we lose and still be happy? Not always, but we have developed trust amongst the squad on and off the pitch, so we soon regroup and get back to the enjoyment of striving to be better on the pitch. And of course, the social aspect of enjoyment is very important. We socialise together after games, go out for team dinners, and eat together in the clubhouse after training. We have a lot of young men in their late teens and early twenties in the squad. Whilst I want them to perform at their best on a Saturday afternoon, I also feel a responsibility towards making sure that the club is a place that they feel happy and supported. We’ve got a lot of supportive people round the group, making the club is a great place to be. I also hope that we have a strong enough support group for any lads to reach out if they are struggling.
The break in rugby has been difficult for everyone involved in the game and even in brought uncertainty for many, it also gave Warren the opportunity to reflect. He explained: "The Covid-19 outbreak and the obvious effects it has had on rugby at all levels has afforded me a chance to reflect on the progress made as a playing and coaching group. If we had continued the season, I don’t think you would find a player with a shred of doubt in their mind that we would have reached the playoff and there was a collective self-belief that we would win the playoff game, regardless of opposition. This developing mindset is something I am extremely proud of. As with most areas of society, the lockdown brought uncertainty on and off field. Health, mostly mental well-being, has been affected, and there are financial implications for the squad with the abandonment and delay of fixtures. But through it all there has been an unwavering positivity from the players and staff to get back to training, playing and doing what we all love. We have stuck to the guidelines for training, starting with socially distanced fitness sessions on the beach at St Anne’s, and recently moving back to the club where players have had to fill out symptom questionnaires and complete temperature checks before training.
"Integrity is crucial to tie the whole development and retention package together. If I tell a player they need to improve a specific area of their game to be able to push for a place in the team and then don’t select them, why would they trust me again in the future? If I tell players that we need to reduce the rugby budget but don’t take any reduction in my own wages, then why would they trust me the next time we spoke about finances? We have a number of really exciting players at the club who could’ve moved on over the past few seasons, and I believe one of their reasons for staying is that we have developed trusting relationships. This means that I have had discussions with players about their future on and off the pitch that I couldn’t imagine having with coaches when I was younger."
"And this is where we are, waiting for the next steps, hoping to get back on the pitch where we can compete. When we do get back out there, I hope we can continue to push forward as a group and enjoy the challenges that we know National league rugby will bring." Warren's game development strategy is based on his core ideals of how to develop and retain players. It's obvious he has a clear and positive vision for the future of Fylde RFC. With challenging times ahead we wish him the best of luck.
Game development Featured Club: Otley RUFC
Embarking on an exciting relocation Built on strong foundations and moving to new pastures, Otley RUFC see their new facilities as key to the club's growth. We spoke to the club and heard from Chairman Paul Mackie. Otley RUFC formed in 1865 and is one of the most distinguished rugby clubs in the country. Their first XV have played at the top of the national leagues for over two decades, and many internationals have come through their junior section, most notably Nigel Melville and more recently Danny Care. The club is proud to have provided junior rugby for both boys and girls for over 50 years. Cross Green is their home and has hosted some memorable occasions including the Norths defeat of the mighty All Blacks in 1979, the North versus Australia in in 1988 and Italy versus the USA in the 1991 world cup. They are a traditional rugby club and aim to play rugby at the highest possible level within the national leagues for the benefit of the club's members, supporters and community with the aim of delivering excellent coaching to maximise the potential of every player of any age from wherever they may come.
Image: Mike Pratt
Featured Club: Otley Rugby Club Although the club's past and heritage is very important to them they cannot stand still. The last few years have seen the creation of a 5 year plan where they will be embarking on an exciting new future at their soon to be built first class new facilities not 500 metres from the iconic Cross Green. The creation of a sporting hub based around rugby in Otley for all the community is their aim. Creating a plan (see below) that everyone in the club could get behind was the start of the wider vision. That plan identified 7 key areas of development from financials through to community with rugby at its core. They are currently in year 1 of the 5-year plan. Otley Rugby Union Football Club has unveiled ambitious plans to secure its future for the next 150 years. The club is proposing to relocate from its current iconic Cross Green premises to a new site adjacent to the proposed East of Otley Relief Road.
The new ground would transform the club’s facilities into one of the best in the North of England delivering a new club house, stand and pavilion, multiple pitches, car parking and better access. It is hoped that the improvements could be what is required to take the club to new heights and to achieve its vision. Otley Rugby Club’s Chairman Paul Mackie said: “After 5 years in the planning we’re extremely excited about these plans which represent a huge opportunity for the club and the wider Otley community. Investment in these facilities alongside delivery of the East of Otley Relief Road will allow us to inspire the next generation and encourage sports participation across all ages and genders. “These facilities are critical to allow us to achieve our ambition of securing community rugby and national league rugby at Otley for years to come. "This relocation is key to unlocking the towns potential as a first-class sporting venue whilst allowing Otley Rugby Club to get ahead of the regional competition in respect of sports facilities and great social space.
well as the critical Commercial Manager role necessary for generating the much needed income. The club have a new Director of Rugby and new Head Coach and crucially a new Chairman of the Zebras their Junior Rugby section.
NHS “We believe this move will be the start of something really big for sport in Otley – not just for rugby. There is huge potential for many other of the existing sporting clubs and generations of young people to come to benefit from the new facilities over time. "Our 2025 vision is to be a welcoming, inclusive and successful family rugby club in the heart of Otleys community” In year 1 they have also redefined the club committee with new volunteer roles for President, Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer as
This past year has also seen their wider membership come together and help to raise over £20,000 from a crowd funding campaign to help see them through the challenges of Covid 19. A fantastic effort which enabled a Sport England grant of £5000 to be awarded. Year 2 will see Planning applications submitted as shown indicatively below and also the sale of the iconic Cross green ground as the financial enabler for the whole development to come together.
Also the formation of a group of member sub committees to help them deliver this ambitious relocation right here in the club's own back yard. The most challenging aspect in the club's sights will be having to play a nomadic year of rugby away from Otley as the new facilities come out of the ground in readiness for the 2022 season. Clearly the recent challenges with Covid 19 haven’t helped the club's position but all timings are running to plan at the moment so they have to keep pushing and working hard to secure their future.
Game development Q&A Feature
Rugby Blindside Q&A with Jon Arch, A little about you… Can you tell us a bit about your background? I started playing Rugby Union when I was 6 at Daventry RFC (near Northampton); I got a bloody nose first session and have loved the game ever since. Most of my early senior rugby was with Daventry
RFC before I moved to the Channel Islands in my mid-20’s, playing for Guernsey Raiders for nearly 10 seasons before returning to the UK to live. Although I haven’t officially retired, at 48 the aches and pains last far too long for it to be enjoyable now but I miss playing so much; I do still have aspirations of playing a game one day with my son, who is part of an amazingly talented Under 14’s squad at Bromsgrove, as long as my
"At the start of last season I challenged the players to make it the best season both on and off the pitch in the clubs history”
Head Coach at Aldridge RFC knee lasts out! I played hooker for most of my ‘proper’ rugby years but as the age increased and so did the waist, I ended up playing right across the front row. I was once described as a ‘touch volatile’ in the front row but the game has changed and I have mellowed over the years.
Can you explain the details of your role at Aldridge RFC? To be honest I didn’t even know where Aldridge was when I accepted the role of Head Coach; I just knew I wanted to start coaching again and what type of rugby I wanted us to play – I wanted us to entertain and have fun – but I also expected us to win.
Q&A Feature I joined Aldridge RFC just before the start of the 2018/19 Season. Rather uniquely they had just got promoted so I was taking over a team which had been successful, rather than one which had been struggling. Unfortunately, it was an ageing squad and the club had become a bit stagnant with a shortage of players and the training numbers had dropped to the point where sessions were being cancelled. As Head Coach my job is simple to work with every single player regardless of ability or experience and help them become the best player they can be. I meet with players for 1 on 1’s and we agree goals and areas for them to development. My coaching style has changed over the years, I have a good idea of what I want the outcome to be but rather than drill it into players, we let them create and adapt through game play and creative thinking to hopefully get to the right outcome. I still do feel though that there is an important place for basic skill technique development especially in youth rugby; Unfortunately I have seen far too many kids getting injured because they haven’t been taught safe and effective tackle technique instead they have been playing 'imaginary invisible ball touch rugby' because it is “Fun”. How has Aldridge RFC developed as a club over the past few years?
importantly though we got the 2nd XV back playing almost every week, and bought some fun back to training nights. At the start of last season I challenged the players to make it 'the best season both on and off the pitch in the clubs history'. I felt that we would get promoted but we didn’t focus on it; we just took the season week-by-week and simply got better and better as a team and stronger as a club. Our 2nd XV were playing every week and we started to put out a 3rd XV. Some of the young lads who we had to throw in the season before now had the experience, and we were fortunate to pick up a few very good new players who fitted right in both on and off the pitch. We finished the season with promotion and a North Midlands RFU Cup final appearance which unfortunately got binned because of COVID. I have no doubt we would have won that. We are approaching the start of this season (whenever that may be) with gusto. I have always said I would rather we AIM HIGH AND MISS than AIM LOW AND HIT… we have got lots of new clubs to face and a great local derby with Veseyans RFC (who we were 3 divisions apart from just a couple of years ago) and who are just a few hundred yards from us; so It’s exciting times for the club.
I think the biggest change is in the way we play rugby. To be told by opposition coaches, players and spectators that we play some lovely attacking rugby is a massive compliment to the players and my coaching team. You are as likely to see our props making the ‘Sonny-Boy Williams' offloads out of the back of the hand as much as the backs. In one game in February we scored 12 tries – 11 by the backs in some simply horrific weather and pitch conditions – the rugby was almost sublime at times. My first season (2018/19) was a real challenge, we got hit with some big injuries and ended up using over 53 players in the first XV league and cup games including myself. We simply had no consistency and at times ended up using players in the 1’s who were almost completely new to the game, but we got better and I started to understand the players better. We finished midtable and had a couple of decent cup runs. Most
What have you done to grow the player pool and retain players at Aldridge RFC? Firstly, anyone who wants to play rugby or simply loves rugby is welcome at Aldridge RFC – it’s a great honest little rugby club. We try not to take things or life too seriously. At the same time I firmly believe that any player joining Aldridge will improve as a rugby player, we challenge players to improve, feeding back to them regularly giving
them areas to work on in their game. We have increased our Social Media fingerprint in the past couple of years, making lots of noise, which has attracted players, alongside encouraging current players to promote the club. Being able to offer rugby for all ability and ages has certainly helped; I fully expect videos of our Social 3s this season to go viral on TikTok at some point. We have players who live within walking distance of the ground, but also players who live in Solihull, Halesowen, and over past Kidderminster who travel 40+ miles twice a week to train so we must be doing something right. I think our style of open, free flowing creative rugby helps, and obviously a second promotion in 3 years has also led to a number of players wanting to join the journey. We don’t and won’t ever pay players, and no-one is guaranteed a 1st XV shirt. If a player wants to join us, show us commitment, performs at training and in games, and has the right attitude on and off the pitch they will get their chance. At Aldridge saying ‘sorry” or berating a fellow player is not allowed at training nor on the pitch – no one drops the ball or misses a tackle deliberately.
We have also developed a great relationship with Wolverhampton Wolverines Aussie Rules side which has benefited both clubs – a number of our players now play both sports and visa-versa, in fact our 1st XV Fly Half 'Sir' Adam Reed has been selected to represent Great Britain ARFL in Australia in 2021. Finally we really invest in our players. We have regularly used specialist coaches from both within Rugby (Scrum and Attack play) but also Aussie Rules (which has benefited our strategic game) and Yoga (flexibility and injury recovery). This season we already have a Judo Coach and a Bobsleigh Coach lined up to deliver sessions alongside former and current professional rugby players. Aldridge RFC has recently launched an Under 23 Development squad. Tell us more about this. At Aldridge RFC we have no M&J or Youth rugby set up. With Veseyans RFC and their award winning youth section, just down the road, it would be impossible to compete. Instead we have
Q&A Feature focused on young players who played rugby up to Colts level but then didn’t transition well into Senior Rugby or who simply fell out of love with the game. We have become a bit of a ‘vulture club’ targeting players from 18 to 23 who want to play rugby, with their mates and then socialise after. We have players who played Colts Rugby at clubs such Old Halesonians, Sutton Coldfield and Wolverhampton. We had a number of Under 23 fixtures last year, winning games against University sides and also good standard club side
How are you currently coping with playing/coaching restrictions due to Covid-19?
If we can develop and progress this model, with these players moving through to 1st XV rugby then we have a sustainable model for the club for years to come.
We always ask the players for feedback on all the sessions. As a coach keeping the sessions fun and engaging within the COVID restrictions has been the hardest part, so it was nice to move to Stage C on the RFU Roadmap, and being able to start to use the Ready4Rugby (R4R) Touch game. I think for players of any age R4R Touch is a fantastic way to challenge ad develop players physically, technically and with their tactical decision making under fatigue and pressure.
What coaching and staffing improvements have been made at Aldridge RFC to progress the club? The most important change was asking the club to appoint a Director of Rugby in my first season, and suggesting the person (Jim Arnold) I wanted. Jim is a club legend, and is still playing regularly in both the 1s and 2s, but most importantly he bought a connection to the club which I didn’t have at the time. Jim does a lot of the fire fighting and committee admin type stuff which allows me to focus on the players, the game strategy and the coaching. With training numbers growing, last season we appointed a young player coach in Harry Baldock. Harry had played at the club previously and I wanted an enthusiastic young coach who had his own ideas and own way of delivering these. We also had former Rugby Lions RFC Number 8 Ben Husthwaite join us as a Player-Coach, Ben is a former World Champion in Clay Shooting and still competes and coaches at World level. Ben has really bought focus and control to our set-piece work. We also managed to get Victoria Brown to join the club as our Physio. Vicky works with ProFootballers across the Midlands and also worked with Samoa Rugby at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. This year we have also added a dedicated coach for the 2nd XV as they are re-entering Greater Birmingham Merit League, and are also looking for additional support to assist with Match Day Team Management, Game Analysis and First Aid cover. This infrastructure and investment in the players over the past 2 years has been a real catalyst for our success on the pitch.
Covid is a challenge, but our numbers have been outstanding with 40+ players attending sessions. We have called it Skill-Season rather than PreSeason. We have followed strict RFU guidelines at all times, and have focused on skill development and more recently have started to bring in elements to bring about a change in mindset for our principles of Attack and Defence.
What does the future look like at Aldridge RFC? Good – I hope… As a club we are about to launch our 5 Year Strategic Vision “Aldridge RFC – Rugby at the heart of the local community”. It gives us targets for both on and off the pitch; I think the last 6 months have really shown the importance of grassroots rugby clubs in the local community, and for the players and members the friendship groups and the support network you get from it. On the pitch we are all just looking forward to playing rugby again at some point. Success is measured not only what we do on the pitch at 1st XV level in the RFU Leagues. Our aim is to be bucking the trend in continue to grow our playing numbers, putting 3 sides out every weekend and have our Under 23’s playing regularly – all done with a smile on our face!
blOKes An innovative mental health partnership with Staines RFC WEST London-based rugby club Staines RFC and men’s mental health brand blOKes have announced a new partnership that will look to address the stigma around men’s mental health and encourage more open and honest conversations. blOKes is designed to be a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space for men to open up about their mental health, connect with other likeminded people and share a #MaleTale. Founder of blOKes, Tom Home, said: “I am absolutely delighted to announce this innovative new partnership between blOKes and Staines RFC. Having spoken to Staines’ CEO Stephen Leach and the club’s director of rugby Nick Allso, I couldn’t think of a better club to be involved with.“ Taking a responsibility to look after their player’s mental health is something that all clubs should look to make a priority, and Staines RFC are undertaking some great work in setting an example for all other amateur and professional clubs across the country.”
and Nick Williams, have all become blOKes brand ambassadors and are passionate about helping to encourage men to open up about and voice how they’re really feeling. blOKes ambassador and former Wasps, Saracens, Gloucester and Bristol Bears hooker, Tom Lindsay, said: “People talking in general is so important but unfortunately, there is still a taboo and emasculating shadow around men talking about their mental health. “The fear of losing their identity or ‘saving face’ among friends, family and colleagues is still a massive problem in this day and age. With resources like blOKes, men can start to feel safer talking about their worries, fears and problems, which could help them to help themselves and reassure them that it’s okay not to be okay.” Stephen Leach, CEO of Staines RFC, said: “The stigma around the ‘tough’ rugby player is a hard one to shake sometimes and many struggle in silence. Having dealt with my own mental wellbeing in the past, I was in a very fortunate position where I had an amazing support network of family, friends and teammates around me to help me get through the dark days, and I’m excited to be able to now offer the support I was lucky to have but many others aren’t. “To be able to announce a partnership like this at a grassroots rugby club shows how far we have come as a club. The partnership and work we can do together is something I look forward to seeing in action. We have been slowly building our member and player support around mental health. Last season saw us announce Reverend Chris Kennedy as our club Chaplin & member of our Return2Play team – a crucial part of helping our players return to the field. I’m thrilled to announce this partnership with blOKes and how we can now offer support to those who need it both on and off the field."
Since launching at the beginning of July 2020, several well-known players, including Tom Lindsay, Johnny Leota, Alex Rieder, Dan Mugford
To find out more about blOKes get in touch with Tom via social media: @_blOKes
Camberley Rugby Club announce new sponsor Camberley Rugby Club have announced that Maximus 1,2,3,4 Food Plan has signed a new sponsorship deal for an initial 12-month period. Steve O'Meara, Chair of Camberley Rugby Club said: "We are delighted that Maximus 1,2,3,4 Food Plan has chosen to sponsor our Club. There is clear alignment with healthy eating and staying physically fit by taking part in rugby." The sponsorship deal is a first for the club as it mainly utilises their social media channels which have a reach in excess of 10,000 people. O'Meara continued: "Sponsorship in the past has typically focused on shirt branding, ground signage and adverts in match day programmes. Whilst this will continue, it's an exciting development for the Club to dip our toe into online and social media sponsorship, particularly partnering with local Camberley businesses such as Maximus." Ben Rickwood, meal planner and personal coach from Maximus 1,2,3,4 Food Plan commented: "When looking to increase customers, I wanted to support an organisation which shared the values of my business and could help increase our social media following. I knew from meeting several of their members that Camberley Rugby Club fitted the bill and I'm looking forward to maximising our partnership together this year. I wish the club success for the 2020/21 season!"
Redruth Rugby Club announce VX3 as official kit partner Redruth RFC have announced that VX3 are now the clubs official kit partner. VX3 provide fantastic quality on and off-field kit at affordable prices. The Redruth playing squad will certainly be looking at their best this season when they represent the club in both National 3 South and local rugby. Members and Supporters will be pleased to hear that the Redruth RFC official kit is now available to purchase via the on-line shop, Hoodies, shorts, polo shirts, jackets and bobble hats they've got the lot.
Straps of Gourock extend sponsorship of Ladies and Girls rugby at GWRFC Greenock Wanderers have announced that Straps of Gourock have extended their sponsorship of our ladies team! The extension takes Straps into their 3rd season sponsoring our ladies. During the previous two seasons, Straps have seen our ladies enjoy some great successes, from winning the Ladies National Bowl in 2018 at Silver Saturday, to finishing 2nd in last season’s league. When Speaking to GWRFC, Suzanne, the owner of the shop said “It was a no-brainer to continue my sponsorship of the Ladies team.I always try to support ladies and girls sports teams in the local area and have sponsored others in the past. I have enjoyed sponsoring the ladies in the last 2 seasons, especially Silver Saturday in my first season, what a day that was!” Straps of Grourock is a Lingerie Retailer, specialising in Mastecomy, Nursing, Bridal and larger cup sizes. Services include measuring and fitting as well as a warm welcome every time you enter the store.
Community Group extend Richmond Rugby partnership Richmond Rugby have confirmed community engagement specialists, Community Group, have signed a new two-year partnership with the club ahead of the 2020/21 season. Community Group specialise in forming and operating community departments for sports clubs across the UK and abroad, developing engaging sustainable sports coaching programmes for both the club and the wider community to enjoy. The partnership, now into its fourth year, continues to go from strength to strength with Richmond and Community Group working together to establish a comprehensive schools community programme. The club delivers sports provision in 12 local primary/prep schools and seven secondary schools, as well as running the
ground-breaking rugby programme in Feltham Youth Offenders Institute. We also operate a joint rugby programme with several local schools, and offer rugby camps for kids to attend during the school holidays. The programme also provides extensive support to the Richmond mini and youth sections, helping to bolster engagement and playing numbers, as well supporting the delivery of various coaching and refereering courses and providing community coaching support every Sunday throughout the season. Most recently during lockdown, the community department managed a team of more than 50 volunteers collecting food for the vulnerable and those in need as part of AFC Wimbledon’s - Dons Local Action Group, as well as supporting the launch and delivery of the club’s summer meals initiative. Community Group Managing Director, Matt Price said: “We are delighted to agree a two year extension with Richmond Rugby Club. The department is growing year on year which in turn means we can work with and impact larger numbers of people each year. We want more and more people to enjoy Richmond Rugby. It’s a fantastic club with great people and we look forward to working with them for years to come.” Dom Palacio, Richmond Rugby Head of Community, added: “It is an honour and privilege to work for Community Group in the role of Head of Community at Richmond Rugby Club. Recently during the lockdown we have shown the necessity to have a strong and thriving department and it has been wonderful to be able to help people in need across our Borough. Community Group play a key role in identifying areas of community engagement and I’m looking forward to the future of the department, continuing to grow and maintain our relationships with multiple primary and secondary schools, as well as supporting our thriving Richmond mini and youth sections.” Jimmy Wallace, Richmond Rugby Commercial Director, said: “We’re hugely grateful to Matt and his Community Group team for their continued support and commitment to our club. Over the last four years our Community Department has made a huge impact in our local area and we are looking forward to forming an even stronger relationship over the next two years and beyond.” The Community Group logo will continue to feature on the shoulder of the Men’s
First XV shirts for the next two seasons as the club embarks on an exciting return to the Men’s Championship.
Newmarket Rugby Club confirm iPro as Head Sponsor Newmarket RFC has announced a new long-term sponsorship agreement and head sponsor Health Hydration company, iPRO Hydrate. iPRO is fast becoming the leading supplier of Healthy Hydration drinks to the world of sport, health and wellbeing and are used by sport, health and fitness professionals around the world which is a testimony to their ability to deliver quality hydration products. iPRO have previously donated sports equipment and their low sugar drinks to the club. The agreement with iPRO will help finance performance sports equipment, coach development and the refurbishment of the club house. The long-term agreement was confirmed with iPRO a few weeks ago and representatives from both iPRO and Newmarket Rugby club look forward to working together in the future. Marketing Manager Edward Rudge says “We are extremely proud that iPRO have agreed to work with us and support grass roots rugby. For an international company who work with the likes of Scottish Rugby Union, Sale Sharks and British Army and Navy Rugby, this is a great opportunity for local sport and Newmarket as a whole.” Director of Rugby Peter Boyle added “For Newmarket Rugby Club to be part of the iPRO sporting family is a massive boost for us as a club. This sponsorship will enable us to continue our commitment to junior and community rugby, whilst supporting the ambitions of senior teams. It is a testament to iPRO and their desire to support grassroots sport as well as elite sport." On the sponsorship iPRO Managing Director, Tom Garrad, commented “We have built a great relationship with Newmarket Rugby Club over the years and are proud to further our support into the club during such a difficult time for grassroots clubs across the country. We wish the club the very best of luck for the season ahead!”
The lockdown fallout: what happens next? By Dave Swanton After the Lockdown, well done to the Premiership Clubs and BT who have got the show back on the road and given us some great rugby to watch. All fans are out of the habit of going to the game and that is an issue that clubs are going to have to get to grips with soon as restrictions on crowds attending are lifted (albeit slowly). Gaining the confidence of fans to attend and bring youngsters and those with vulnerable illness is going to be a huge ask. Opening the gates, sending out a tweet saying the ticket office is open wonâ€™t be enough and club staff will be tested to the best of their abilities when they go crowd chasing. I was surprised and shocked during lockdown that several clubs dispensed with their media managers. I may be biased having held positions at Warrington, Wigan and Sale for 22 years but
how do clubs expect to get the message out and keep good working relationships in tact without a point of contact. The role of media manager is a tough one and you have to be switched on 24 hours a day and be able to deal with all sorts of strange requests and be able to ring club officials for quotes and tip-offs. I have seen the most incredible appointments with people being put in place who have zero skills and are either cheap (salary wise) or itâ€™s been a placement created by a family member or being leaned on by a sponsor. I have spoken at several events where young aspiring students have attended and I have been really impressed but these people have problems kicking the door down and getting an opportunity. I shake my head at times when statements are made, printed or spoken and then
there is a huge U turn with the hand brake on and smoke coming off the tyres. At one time we committed everything to memory, these days there is Google! Say something and this search engine will log it and however you try to shake it off its impossible and helps create your DNA credibility. The Rugby Union season finishes in October and then has the shortest of breaks before the 20-21 season starts and its going to be like a fizzy bottle of pop shaken for ten minutes –remover the top and the contents fly everywhere. We have Internationals, Premiership, Six Nations, Europe and the play offs followed by a Lions Tour. Let’s be honest the Lions is massive as it unites the whole rugby fan base of the UK and ex-pats. If I was one of the Saracens players who stayed loyal to the
club I would be rubbing my hands. They will not be playing in full on high octane games every week and used sparingly like the Celtic League players. They will be fresher, fitter and more focussed rather than the Premiership players who will have played 30+ games and approaching burn out. You also have the distraction of money where clubs, if they can’t fill stadiums will be looking at cutbacks in wages. There are only so many media / marketing / ticketing / photographers you can cut but in comparison to player wages its bobbins. How it all comes together is going to be fascinating, sadly I believe the Financial Directors will have a huge say, guided by owners and the professional game at the current level will, unless things improve and covid goes away will change beyond all recognition by this time next year.
London Welsh announce new partnership with Cardiff Blues
famous London Welsh jersey when the league campaign starts and they will see how matters pan out in that regard.
London Welsh have created an exiles pathway relationship with Cardiff Blues and start by welcoming Wales U20's Gwilym Bradley and Theo Bevacqua to Pre-Season!
Director and Head of Men's Rugby Jonathan Shankland commented:
London Welsh have announced the strengthening of their historic relationship with great friends at Cardiff Blues, with whom they share so much history. The 20/21 squad will welcome Theo and Gwilym to the preseason camp to train with them whilst regional rugby in Wales goes through its own reopening procedures in conjunction with the WRU. Both players are contracted to the Blues and the Academy set-up and are now pushing for regional game time, as well as having 8 Wales u20 caps between them. Gwilym and Theo are both Welsh Exiles from London and the South East and therefore are no strangers to Old Deer Park having come through the ranks of the Welsh Exiles programme. The arrival in camp will be mutually beneficial for London Welsh, the Blues and of course the players themselves in ensuring that they are ready for the return to rugby. Will Taylor, Head of S&C and former Ospreys and Wasps man, will be putting the players through their paces during an intense pre-season schedule overseen by Director of Rugby Cai Griffiths. The club is delighted to support two of Wales's brightest young stars and indeed to re-confirm our links with Cardiff Blues, the Blues Academy and the WRU in operating as an outlet to retain Welsh talent within the WRU family. It is ever more likely that players will leave Wales geographically as modern life and patterns of education dictate; it has never been more important to them to play their part in ensuring that a geographical move does not mean that players need to leave the extended reach of the Welsh Rugby Family. Theo is about to embark on university studies at Cardiff University and Gwil is taking time away from his degree at Bath University to concentrate on full time rugby. The club looks forward to being part of their development and to seeing them have a positive impact on the squad - it would be wonderful to see them get game time in the
'It is excellent for us to have two such talented Welsh players with us and to add their standards and dynamic to a our pre-season preparations. It is great to play our part in extending the reach of regional rugby outside of Wales as the WRU and Regions look to retain talent and become more flexible in their facilitating of modern professional rugby. It is particularly apt that the rekindled relationship with Cardiff Blues comes at such an exciting time for our great club more generally, both on and off the field. Cardiff Blues have some exciting times ahead and we look forward to playing our part both this season and going forwards into the future as the ties are strengthened yet further under this initiative.' Cardiff Blues Head Coach John Mulvihill commented: 'It gives us at Cardiff Blues great pleasure, and our academy in particular, to be able to work closely with London Welsh and the individual player development will benefit enormously. In relation to Theo and Gwilym, our academy staff have worked closely with the Exiles programme over the past 12 months and we are thrilled that they have committed to Cardiff Blues. However, given the geographical issues and the uncertainty in landscape for club rugby in Wales , we are hugely grateful to Jonathan Shankland and Cai Griffiths at London Welsh for the opportunity that the boys will have at such a great club with a rich history and connection to Welsh rugby. Having said that, this is not just a nod to nostalgia and we are quite certain that the players will receive a high level performance programme in line with our academy standards that are aligned well with the ambitions of London Welsh. We will be monitoring closely through the summer and will look further at the players individual development plan in due course and indeed plan for future link ups between us and London Welsh." All at London Welsh very much look forward to watching this new initiative take shape and indeed to working closely with Cardiff Blues throughout 20/21 Season.
Chinnor launch Women's team Chinnor RFC Thame have announced the launch of a women’s team with Fran Ronan appointed Head Coach. It has been more than a decade since they were able to field a senior ladies side and reinforces their commitment of providing inclusive rugby for their community. The women’s team further builds on the success of our girls Under 12s & 13s, who enjoyed a successful first year last season. Although only 24years-old, Fran joins the Club with a wealth of experience, having played county rugby for Northumberland as well as for Oxford Brookes University and the Adjutant General's Corps while she was an officer cadet. Most recently, she has been Head Coach at Oxford, as well as holding a coaching role with Oxford University. Fran, who is also the Head Coach of Oxfordshire Women, will be assisted by Karl Crockford, with Chinnor due to play in the Inner Warrior Series. She said: “I’m delighted to become the Women’s Head Coach at Chinnor RFC Thame. I’m very excited, it’s quite a big thing to be a part of. The Club has an amazing community and I’ve never really felt quite a welcome as big as the one I got here. This Club has put in a lot of work to move forward and grow, and it has the potential to be one of the biggest clubs in the country if it continues the way it is. It’s a very appealing environment for someone to play rugby, be part of the community, while still having those values around the sport and desire to develop. I’m so passionate about making sure people enjoy rugby because it’s a crazy sport. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
be playing an important role within it. It’s my personal ambition to see our senior women and senior men not only share the training field, but to share a matchday as well. Whilst our senior men’s team are role models for the rest of our community, the same goes for our senior women’s team, who will undoubtedly directly influence our girls teams. I have no doubt that in the years to come we will see more Oxfordshire ladies and girls pick up a rugby ball here at Kingsey Road.”
Ged Quinn to become owner of Darlington Mowden Park At the conclusion of the EGM, Club members voted resoundingly in favour of a proposal for board member Ged Quinn to take ownership of The Club moving forward. Speaking after the EGM, Ged Quinn commented: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed assisting Mowden Park and its management team over recent years and the passion of its members has shone through. I’m pleased to be able to help secure The Club’s future and I’m determined to augment its long history as
Amanda Pearce Higgins, Chinnor RFC Thame Board Member with responsibility for Community Engagement, Equality and Diversity, said: “I’m very excited about the new women’s senior team at Chinnor RFC Thame. I’m truly passionate about getting as many people as possible playing and enjoying sport, in particular women and girls. This is a big step forward in Chinnor’s recent history and demonstrates our commitment to being a community sports club open to all.” Chinnor RFC Thame Director of Rugby, Richard Thorpe added: “I’m delighted to begin working with our new women’s team. In delivering our vision of becoming the outstanding community club in Oxfordshire, our new women’s team will
Club news a sports club for the benefit of sport and the community of Darlington.” Club Chairman Mick Birch commented: “We’re absolutely delighted with the outcome of the EGM. This new structure and direction will strengthen The Club and ensure we emerge from the COVID 19 pandemic able to progress our plans for the future of Darlington Mowden Park and sport in the town.”
London Irish Amateur RFC announce Paul Dunne as Head Coach Paul is an RFU Level 4 Coach and a qualified Director of Rugby with 14 years of coaching experience at both club and representative level. Paul started his coaching career with the Wild Geese from 2007 to 2011 and during that time gained an MSc in Sport Psychology from Roehampton University and was part of a stellar team that helped the Geese achieve two promotions, two Surrey Trophy wins and promotion to the National Leagues for the first time in their history. Paul also coached with the Irish Exiles during his time at Sunbury. Work commitments as a teacher took Paul to Dorset for the last eight years, where he continued to develop his coaching, as Head Coach at Bournemouth RFC in the National Leagues, and Dorchester RFC, as well being Director of Rugby at Bryanston School and working with players in the Bath Academy system. Paul was head coach of the Dorset and Wiltshire County U18’s and U20’s and coached the U20 team that reached the National final for the first time ever in DW history. A new position at Wellington College brought Paul back towards London and a second spell at the Wild Geese. Paul said “I’m really looking forward to getting started again with the Geese. London Irish is the club I call home, and as I’ve been a frequent visitor over the years I have always followed the Geese results with interest. It’s an honour to have such a huge opportunity in the current difficult circumstances to have a positive influence on our club and our community, and whatever the circumstances of this season we will work hard to play the kind of rugby that London Irish members expect.”
Fullerians make changes to management committee Fullerians RFC have announced changes to the structure of its management committee. The club’s committee runs the club, in accordance with its constitution, on behalf of its members. All the committee members are volunteers. The changes announced include the introduction of an Executive Board and the creation of several sub-committees. The Executive Board will sit within the management committee and consist of the four elected officers of the club. This will provide the club with two tiers of governance, in line with best practice. The Executive Board will focus on Governance and Oversight, whilst also supporting the management committee with the day to day operation of the club. Each of the newly formed sub-committees will be chaired by a member of the management committee. The sub-committees will meet every other month and support specific elements of club operation such as Finance, Mini’s, Junior’s, Women’s and Girls’, Senior Men’s (to include Colts), and Membership & External Stakeholders. Membership of the sub-committees will be taken from the specific sections of the club that they represent. It is hoped that they will enable more members of the club to have a direct input into the running of the club and allow the committee to better understand the needs of the club and its members. In addition to the above changes, a new Chair of Membership position has been added to the management committee and the positions of Director of Rugby and Premises Manager will be removed. The Senior Men’s sub-committee will be chaired by the Club Head Coach, who reports directly to the club Chair. Club Chair Malcolm Harrison said “The club’s committee plays a vital, and often silent role, in running the club. These minor changes to its structure will allow the committee to continue to run the club on behalf of its members and to ensure future growth.” “I am delighted to welcome Rick McConnell onto the committee as Chair of Membership. Rick brings a huge amount of leadership experience and will be able to help the committee to re-focus on what it means to be a Fullerian.
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Teddington secure continued use of training facilities Teddington RFC has confirmed that the club has secured the continued use of Udney Park Road as a training facility for the coming season and potentially for the longer term. The Udney Park Road playing fields are at the heart of the town that the club has represented for over 50 years and securing a portion of the site will give the club much welcome stability for midweek training and occasional weekend use. The site has been subject to a planning application process for the last few years and although the site owners Quantum/AAH were refused planning permission to build on a proportion of the fields, in addition to developing new community playing facilities and a GP Surgery, the club has been able to secure access to a dedicated area on the site to the south end, adjacent to the tennis courts, a slightly different location to previous years. The decision means the club's junior, women's and men's teams now have a dedicated space to train for the coming season. Unfortunately, in recent months, with the fields lying idle, there has been a degree of vandalism and the site is in poor condition. As part of its arrangement with Quantum, the club will pay for new boundary fencing and secure gates to be installed and will be responsible for the general upkeep of the site. So in addition to the site being made secure, the club will focus on tidying up litter, cutting the grass and generally taking responsibility for maintaining the site, in anticipation of wider use on other areas, a process that will be managed exclusively by Quantum/AHH. Via coaches and managers, timings for various teams’ use of the defined playing area will be confirmed in the days ahead, including information on arrival and changing facilities. Although it will take some time for some of the work to be complete, we are delighted to be able to move forward with a confirmed space within the Teddington community for Teddington RFC for the foreseeable future.
Teddington RFC Chairman Simon Davis said: “This is fantastic news for the club. To secure a facility in the centre of Teddington is very important to us. It means we can provide a single local training venue for all our teams and we can continue to grow our rugby club. We’ll be doing all we can to bring the site back to its former state and hopefully it will continue to be an asset for the local community for many years to come.”
NatWest RugbyForce 2020 at Marlow Rugby Club Marlow RUFC was delighted to be selected for the 2020 NatWest RugbyForce programme by the RFU. This annual initiative is aimed at supporting the rugby community to engage its membership and wider community for a weekend of voluntary work to improve club facilities and playing environment at 250 clubs across the country. This year the club chose to tackle the enormous job of clearing the overgrown and sprawling undergrowth surrounding the pond adjacent to the clubhouse and in the middle of their grounds. This was to prove a herculean task. The aim was to clear back to the perimeter fence, but given none of us could even see the fence in most places, we knew we had our work cut out. With some professional help from Pinewood Tree Surgeons and a band of volunteers, we set to work. Armed with garden tools, thick gloves and a sense of humour we slashed, cut, tore, pulled and yanked at years of untended brambles, re-rooted trees and fallen boughs. It was all we could do to keep the chipper fed with the product of all our hard work.It is testament to the good will, great spirit and fantastic humour of the 30-40 volunteers who dedicated a significant amount of their time on a warm late summer Saturday to make a substantial improvement to our club environment. It would have been very easy to have found an excuse to be somewhere more glamorous, but they came in strength and with such determination. May this give others the inspiration to volunteer at our wonderful club or in our fabulous wider Marlow and Buckinghamshire Community. This is a perfect example that the collective power and might of the team is greater than the sum of its parts. A huge thank you to all those who gave of their
time, their energy and their perspiration for this great cause. Marlow's volunteers all demonstrated the fantastic ‘one club’ ethos at Marlow RUFC, epitomizing the core values of the RFU; Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship – all on show in ‘spades’ on Saturday.
Thanks to Kettering Glass for another project completed Windows now installed at kitchen end of clubhouse allows more light in to highlight the continued improvements being made at Kettering RFC. The club's grateful thanks go out to Alan Moreland of Kettering Glass for replacing the plastic panes with glass at the kitchen end of the clubhouse. His work was carried out as a response to how safe and organised he found our clubhouse with all our Covid-19 features in place. The club are very grateful for this contribution which allows so much more light to get into the kitchen end of the clubhouse, and now also with the cupboard removed the area looks a lot neater for both our members and their ever growing number of visitors.
Tynedale RFC - Main pitch improvements There has been a lot of activity in recent weeks with several enhancements being made to the main pitch surrounds. The enhancements will all help offer an improved experience for our spectators when watching matches on the main pitch. The improvements include: New Electronic Scoreboard. Replacement of rotten flooring in Grandstand. Clearance of trees which were obstructing views on west side of Grandstand. New footpath down northern side of main pitch. Replacement of windows in Grandstand allowing unobstructed view of match from all areas of Grandstand.
From the professional game
RFU extends footwear partnership with adidas
Ian Barr is Scottish Rugby’s new President
Commencing from 1 September 2020, the extension will run until the end of the 2023/24 season having originally teamed up with England Rugby in 2016. As an Official Supplier to England Rugby, adidas will continue to maintain exclusive rights pertaining to players’ rugby boots and trainers, providing the latest sports footwear to be utilised by the both the men’s, women’s and age grade teams who adidas continues to have valued relationships with, as well as the coaching team and the wider England Rugby staff. adidas will also maintain a range of online and digital rights.
Ian Barr, a 57-year-old farmer from Bonnyrigg just outside Edinburgh, was today confirmed as Scottish Rugby’s 128th President at the Union’s online annual meeting.Barr becomes the first President to be elected from Lasswade Rugby Club.He said: “It’s an absolutely great honour. I feel proud for my family and for Lasswade. I’m very humbled by the appointment and also very excited.“I never expected to be captain of any of my teams where I played; I never really expected to be President at Lasswade – there was never really any desire or ambition to become President at the club, it just happened!” he said.
RLWC2021 and IRL announce broadcast partnership RLWC2021 have announced a historic collaboration with International Rugby League (IRL), which will see both organisations working together on the broadcast production of matches at the tournament, in addition to the sale of broadcast rights across the world .In a first for the Rugby League World Cup, the unique partnership – along with the existing agreement with the BBC – will be responsible for the production of 61 matches across the RLWC2021 Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair tournaments next year. The BBC, who have broadcast rights in the United Kingdom, has also confirmed that it will show every minute of every one of the 61 matches live on their platforms. The world-wide broadcast partners for the tournament will be announced in the coming months. Under the existing hosting agreement, RLWC2021 is responsible for the operational delivery of the tournament and owns all the associated commercial rights. This gives RLWC2021 the opportunity to prioritise the fan, ensuring optimum timing of every match for ticket buyers and fans consuming the tournaments globally. The objectives of the new partnership are to create a deeper connection with rugby league’s committed fans while delivering the most accessible experience for new fans through engaging content and powerful, in-depth storytelling.
Adam Hewitt unveiled as Warriors main partner
HGCT & Kirklees College announce partnership
Worcestershire-based motor and agricultural salvage company Adam Hewitt Ltd have become Warriors’ Main Partner and Front-of-Shirt sponsor. Adam Hewitt Ltd, who are based at Harvington near Kidderminster, will have their name and company logo displayed on Warriors’ shirts – produced by new kit supplier O’Neills.
Huddersfield Giants Community Trust has announced a sporting partnership with Kirklees College. Commencing in September 2020, this new partnership will see both institutions join forces to form a hybrid team featuring talented players from across the local community on various Further Education courses. As part of the expansion of the college’s Sports Academy provision, the new Rugby League Academy can be accessed by any student studying at Kirklees College to create an inclusive team that nurtures home-grown talent, not just Sport Students.
The partnership extends a relationship between Warriors and Adam Hewitt Ltd that goes back ten years with the partnership expanding rapidly in recent seasons.
News, opinion and features from the grassroots rugby community.