RUGBY BLINDSIDE WINTER 2021 - ISSUE 17
Featured: Kings Cross Steelers 'A step in the right direction' ...................................................................................................02
SNAP Sponsorship ....................................................................................................08
Opinion: Rugby Blindside 'A new direction for Premiership Rugby' ...................................................................................................04 Interview with Sarah Saunders Commercial & Marketing Manager at Blackheath Rugby ....................................................................................................12
News Club news ....................................................................................................26 From the professional game .....................................................................................................29
Featured: Community Heartbeat Trust 'Not all heroes wear capes, some wear gumshields' .....................................................................................................16 Featured: Fill Your Boots 'Fill Your Boots launch new grassroots rugby social network' ...................................................................................................20 Interview with Kenny Moore, Commercial Manager at Rosslyn Park ....................................................................................................22
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See page 12
See page 02
Published by Oryx Media - December 2021
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Featured: Kings Cross Steelers
"The role for me is to champion the voices I have heard in rugby and those who feel rugby it may not be for them, especially from within the LGBTQ+ community."
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A step in the right direction The World's 1st Gay & Inclusive rugby club now has a seat at the table. Kings Cross Steelers RFC are proud to announce that its chair, Matt Webb, has been successful in his application for one of these prestigious roles. He now joins the RFU council serving a term through to July 2023. The RFU council is made up of representatives from the games grassroots, partner organisations and bodies. It plays an essential role in developing the game, making key decisions on how rugby is played and overseeing the board in their duties running our sport. Matt’s appointment comes as part of the ongoing work to diversify the sports management, add voices to the game from different communities and ensure the game represents the members who play it across the country. Matt also currently sits on the RFU Diversity & Inclusion delivery group, Diversity & Inclusion Training Group and on Essex RFU’s management committee as the D&I lead. Of his appointment Matt Webb said: “I am incredibly proud to have been selected for this role, there was a lot of competition and many excellent candidates who I hope will continue their work in our great game. The role for me is to champion the voices I have heard in rugby and those who feel rugby it may not be for them, especially from within the LGBTQ+ community. This will help influence the vital work done by the council, as we do what’s best for the game's future. I have long felt that rugby has been extremely tolerant of the diversity that naturally exists in our clubs, it is now time to celebrate these differences and speak more authentically. A great amount of work and passion has gone into ensuring rugby is inclusive to all, I am excited to continue that and amplify the voices with different lived experiences. I am grateful to our amazing volunteers at the Kings Cross Steelers RFC for all the work they have put into making the club what it is now, this has allowed me the time to work in the wider game. We should all be proud of this appointment.” Club President of the Kings Cross Steelers Tim Sullivan said of Matt’s new role:“The Kings Cross Steelers RFC are delighted to acknowledge the appointment of Club Chair Matt Webb to the Board of RFU. This appointment is a testament to Matt’s commitment to the issues of diversity in all its forms and will add a strong voice at the RFU to support their drive towards full inclusion. There is much to do, and the rugby community will benefit from these collective voices.”
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Opinion: Rugby Blindside
A new direction for Premiership Rugby The new Premiership Rugby Chief Executive faces a range of challenges and expectations are high. WRITTEN BY: RUGBY BLINDSIDE In October 2021 Premiership Rugby were delighted to confirm the appointment of Simon Massie-Taylor as their new Chief Executive. His successor, Darren Childs, had been in the role since August 2019 and stepped down back in April 2021 leaving the role vacant for nearly 6 months. Childs’ tenure was seen to be not overly impressive so what can Simon Massie-Taylor do different?
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Opinion: Rugby Blindside Well let’s firstly take a look at Simon’s background. Simon’s most recent role was at the RFU where he is Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer. At the RFU, he was responsible for the organisation’s revenuegenerating and marketing activities including broadcast, brand partnerships, fan engagement and digital and data transformation projects. Prior to the RFU, he was Commercial Director at the British Olympic Association and Commercial Director at Tough Mudder in New York. His broad range of experience and knowledge in the sports sector should put him in good stead to take the game forward leading from the top. This is important because the Chief Executive role for Premiership Rugby not just impacts the competition but it also has an effect on the game overall. Premiership Rugby’s influence on the community game cannot be overlooked. You see the same in football. Lower league clubs want to emulate what top tier clubs do in terms of commercial and marketing, fan engagement and general club operations. If you were to sum up Simon’s objective for the role in one word it would be, ‘Growth’. With Simon at the helm, Premiership Rugby plan is to continue to build live TV and stadium audiences whilst significantly increasing the league’s digital presence, with investment in quality and digital fan engagement. These are key steps on the path to grow commercial revenues, for reinvestment back into the sport, ensuring the longer-term success of our clubs and players in the Premiership, in Europe, and on the world stage. In the immediate future Simon’s top responsibilities will be to guide the league out of the Covid era, oversee Premiership Rugby’s expansion to a 14-club league, deal with the evolving debate over ring-fencing and put building blocks in place for renegotiating the league’s TV deal which runs out in 2024. Guiding clubs and the league out of the Covid era will be a tricky one. As this article is being published we are still in the grips of coronavirus with what looks like a fourth wave sweeping the country over the Winter/Christmas period. In other sports fixtures are being cancelled but domestic and European rugby is still holding strong. Clubs can ill afford to have games cancelled or the season halted as the loss of revenue will be damaging. But at the same time it is also Simon’s job to ensure the health and safety of coaching staff, players and fans. The difficulty will be striking a balance between these two factors in the hope of keeping as many parties happy. The expansion of the league and the ring-fencing issue are things that Simon will be inheriting. The Covid recovery plan passed by the RFU Council stated that in the 2022/23 season no side will be relegated from or promoted to the new 14-team Premiership. Even after the that season, a play-off in the 2023/24 season between the club finishing bottom of the Premiership and the winner of the Championship (subject to that club meeting the required minimum standards) will decide which club plays in the Premiership the following season.
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As whole the general consensus amongst Premiership Rugby fans is that ring-fencing the league would not be beneficial. What will be expected of Simon is to listen to fans wishes and act accordingly. Jeopardy is built into the English sports system, with Simon’s experience working in the RFU and other English sports he should have a firm understanding of this. This should put Premiership Rugby in safe hands when staving off temptations to adopt the US based sports system which perhaps might be in the minds of those working for investment firm CVC who recently took a stake in Premiership Rugby. On this front it will be expected of Simon to protect our game. Keeping the competition exciting and competitive will also be a determining factor to driving one of Premiership Rugby’s aims which is to increase TV and instadium audiences. Simon is lucky in the fact that he joins after one of the most exciting Premiership Rugby seasons to date with Harlequins defying the odds on multiple occasions to seize the crown. You can sense a buzz and excitement from the regular fans who attend matches which can be attributed to the fact they were unable to attend games for many parts of last season. An example of this excitement can be seen at Bristol Bears where they reported an impressive 10,000+ season cards sold ahead of the start of the 2021/22 season. But unfortunately, this is an anomaly with overall match attendance figures being down on previous seasons. After the first five rounds of fixtures, the average attendance for a game in the Premiership was 10,748. That is a 25.9 per cent decrease on the average for the last full season played before the pandemic, 2018-19. Stadium attendances at games have been around 50%. This is both concerning and promising. Concerning in the fact that even after fans weren’t able to attend games clubs haven’t been able to attract fans back to attend live matches. To take the glass half full approach you can say that the clubs have the necessary infrastructure in place to accommodate growth. This is an issue that clubs will be looking to Simon to help them fix. It will be his responsibility to assist clubs in any way he can to help them attract fans to games. Increased marketing efforts by Premiership Rugby in emphasising match attendance of its games will be needed to help boost numbers. Supporting clubs in this way will help grow club audiences and in turn revenue. What will be interesting is to see what Simon’s plans are for digital fan engagement. This is exciting as the emphasis on digital fan engagement is a clear focus on the younger, new generation of fans. Simon does have his work cut out as there are major trends that need reversing. Clubs need assistance, fans need reassurance and the competition needs a leader. Let’s hope with Simon’s wealth of experience he’s the man for the job.
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In Focus: SNAP Sponsorship
For more information visit: https://www.snapsponsorship.com
Creating A Sponsorship Strategy For Your Grassroots Sports Club In order to bring in extra funding, many clubs turn to sponsorship. They open themselves up to the idea of having a sponsor and then proactively search for one – but when it comes to the crunch, how many actually have a strategy to maximise revenue and keep their sponsors happy? It isn’t as easy as being handed some money to stick a brand logo on a clubhouse or building – there are always options that have to be considered before you take a leap of faith and put pen to paper on a legal agreement binding sponsor and rights holder. Taking time to plan now will save time in the long run – know what a company who sponsors you stands to gain from the partnership. Do some research, have a look at what audiences you can reach, and market yourself to the appropriate sponsor.
Research Before sending off a thousand requests asking for sponsors, do some research. Have a look online for businesses that have a track record of sponsoring people in your field – the field it operates in and its turnover. You do not want to target someone who cannot afford to sponsor. Look to see if the people that the business’s target audience are would be interested in what you or your club has to offer. You must match the brand to the audience. For example, there is no point approaching a company that makes high-end products if the audience will see their involvement but cannot afford to buy their products. This would offer little potential for return on investment, and as such your proposal probably will not see the light of day.
Your goals and objectives Make sure that you lay down goals so that your club can sit down at the end of the year/season/event and measure what success has been gained by having a sponsor. There is little point in putting all the work in to get a sponsor, if when the year/season/event ends you do not know whether they've had a positive impact or not. Have a funding goal as well – creating short-term and long-term funding targets will help you to keep your eyes on the prize in relation to income. It also means you will be less likely to be blindsided by a lucrative yet short-term deal if it leaves you short of cash in the future. You also need to make sure that they are specific, measurable, and achievable. Do not get excited and aim too high in terms of income, keep your goals down to a level that you can expect to hit. Long-term thinking can also come into the equation here, as a good plan will allow for year on year growth that short-term vision might not be able to achieve. But just as you want to keep a sponsorship pitch precise, you need to keep your goals specific – otherwise you can get lost in a mire of ambiguity and misdirection.
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Doing some research on your fans or people in your organisation is a good idea as well – pass around a quick questionnaire, find out what they like and what sort of brands they are receptive to, and use that information to target sponsors. A company will be a lot more likely to jump on-board if they sense an opportunity to make money out of the deal. Where you talk to potential sponsors can also make a difference; should you meet them face-to-face, start things off with an email, or maybe even a cold call? Again, research comes into play here as well, as you want to get off on the right foot. Once you have got in the door, keep a record of all the companies that you have spoken to – even if you did not manage to reach a formal agreement. This will allow you to collect your thoughts, approach companies like the ones you already have on-board, and it will also mean that you don’t ask the same company twice. You can input your data into SNAP to have online and at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. Storing information online on SNAP is a great energy saver.
Your data can be accessed by anyone online (provided you or your club have set them up with a secure account), which saves you having to remember to put it on a memory stick – or having to lug a laptop around with you if you want to show others what data and research has been carried out. The SNAP portal is an excellent admin tool and can help you save a lot of time. Make sure that your promotion and marketing is in line with all the research that has been carried out and the information that has been found. There is no point putting the hours in if you disregard what you found out. Sponsorship opportunities Sponsorship opportunities are the meat and drink of what you offer once you have done your research, found a suitable sponsor, and gone through the process of getting them on-board. There are several ways to build sponsorship opportunities, including: sponsorship levels, sponsorship brands, and creating an individual opportunity to suit one sponsor. There are pros and cons for all three systems – sponsorship levels cover a lot of bases but are impersonal to the sponsor and could result in you not maximising revenue from them. Sponsorship bands are better but suffer from a similar problem to levels – while an individual opportunity may be too time consuming for an amateur club or part-time organisation to put together.
Don’t think that just having a website is good enough. Social media needs to be explored – and if done well, can have just as much of a positive impact as a good website can. Twitter is an excellent tool in order to let locals know what is going on. A lot of clubs have Twitter, but not a lot use it well. A good starting point would be to follow all the local journalists in the area as well as all your players, sponsors, supporters and even just people who live close by. With any luck, news stories that you tweet out will get picked up by a few people with influence in the community – who can then spread the word for you. Facebook is useful in the sense that it can create conversations around the club, and if you set up a page correctly, it could eventually become a good ecommerce tool. Using Twitter and Facebook can also help you to build up a conversation around your club or organisation – it can help you to interact with members of the community and build up an invaluable rapport for the people who support you at grass-roots level. Also make the most of any events that you have running – make sure to invite sponsors and potential sponsors to those events and show them what sort of set-up they could get involved in. There is nothing wrong with giving sponsors some good treatment by throwing in a freebie as a thank you. It creates a good feeling between parties and shows that you don’t just view them as a cash cow. Proposals
But anyone building any opportunity needs to start by taking a look at what assets they have. Is there a lot of space to put branding? Maybe a company can sponsor an event or match? Does what you have to offer and what the sponsor wants fit well together? These are all questions that need to be asked. Asking someone else for help on how to put together a package can help you grow your organisation even more quickly. A service like SNAP sponsorship can help you to match sponsors to your goals. You can put your assets into the SNAP framework and use the tools that they provide to help you minimise your workload. Promotion Getting a sponsor is not enough – you still need to do some legwork to make sure that you build off the back of landing some extra money. Social media and a website come into the equation here, as they are excellent in spreading the word about your club or organisation, for free. Developing an online presence can help to attract and keep sponsors, and just having a professional looking website can do wonders for the image of the sports club – attracting new sponsors, players and possibly even a bigger crowd to games as well. A website will also be one of the first things that a prospective sponsor will look at – so a good one is vital if you want to market your club in the correct manner.
The proposal is the main element that is going to decide if you land a sponsor or not – and things to put in it include anything that’s of particular interest to a certain sponsor, and outline anything that will be of a specific benefit to them. You should also make sure that each proposal is tailored personally to each business. They are the ones who are going to be putting some money into your organisation, so taking the time to draft a unique proposal is the least you could do. Why not throw in a promotional video? It is a great way to really show sponsors what they will be getting if they join forces with you, especially if they haven’t had the time to have a proper look behind the scenes yet. Retention Do you have a plan in place to maintain communication with any current sponsors? If not, then you should. There’s no point spending all year chasing new sponsors if you’re neglecting the ones you already have – rather, when they have signed on the dotted line, do all you can to keep them coming back year after year. This builds a good relationship, which is likely to benefit both parties. One ingredient in this could be offering special treatment in some way – whether it is cheaper drinks at an event or free entry to something that you’re hosting. Small gestures can go a long way to building and
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In Focus: SNAP Sponsorship cementing a good relationship between parties and should not be overlooked.
Dyce RFC is a small club, based just outside Aberdeen. The club has a long history, being founded in 1983, but remains at the forefront of the community as it enables families, friends, and supporters a place to socialise. Their grounds consist of a leased full-size grass pitch, a shipping container as storage & their local pub, The New Greentrees as their clubhouse. However, their lack of infrastructure does not set them back as they are committed to monetising their existing assets.
Having a measure of how well you have achieved your initial goals is vital. You do not want to have done all the hard work in getting someone on-board without knowing if you have achieved what you set out at the beginning of the process.
Even though Dyce RFC is a relatively small grassroots rugby club, they are still extremely attractive to sponsors as they have strong community opportunities in addition to both tangible & intangible assets. When attracting new sponsors, Phil Horsfall added...
Comparing results over a certain period of time can be useful as well; in that it can provide you with a document that highlights what went right and what went wrong over different periods. Having records can also help you to see what sort of business you have been successful in targeting – which could lead to more precise pitches in the future, resulting in more sponsorship coming through.
“We are committed to giving you and your company the exposure and promotion you deserve. We recognise that without your support many of our lads would not be enjoying their rugby at the weekend!”
Again, SNAP can help with something like this – and is able to take a lot of the manual legwork out of comparing notes from two separate sponsorship campaigns. By using the portal, you will be able to view stats on deals, keep track of renewal dates and trace trends in sponsorship.
They did simple calculations to show what value their membership could be to a potential sponsor. Dyce calculated that out of their 100 members, half may drive to the matches and training, so that’s 50 cars. All of those 50 cars will need MOT’s at some point in a year, and if 20% of those cars fail then remedial work would be carried out at an average of £100 per failure. 50xMOT (average £45) = £2250 per year 10xRemedial work (average £100) = £1000 per year Total revenue = £3250 per year
One method to not only keep, but to increase the level of sponsorship that an individual sponsor gives, is to upsell – offer them alternative, larger deals to keep them at the organisation.
Conclusion Having a better understanding of what your goals are and how to achieve them will improve over time – especially if you keep records that measure success and failure. Every sponsorship opportunity will be different, so it’s important that you modify each one to maximise the potential synergy between you and a sponsoring company – they don’t want a generic offering, as it’s all about creating a return on investment for them. By that same token, each plan will be different, so the goals and objectives that go along with them will also change. It is important that your organisation is always changing and adapting – make sure that you move along with it.
Case Study - Dyce RFC In this rugby club case study, we will be looking at Dyce RFC, an Aberdeen based club. Dyce RFC managed to grow their sponsorship income by a whopping 400% through exploiting their SNAP profile!
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Dyce RFC is a relatively small club with around 100 members, but they know what their value is to a local business.
In this example they tagged all of the local car garages and showed them what potential there was to the business by sponsoring a player at the club. Dyce RFC have fully engaged with their SNAP profile using the management system to effectively renew many of their pre-existing sponsors. They have been able to add sponsorship activations and tasks for their various sponsorship deals and maintain contact with their sponsors. In addition, the club has secured two new sponsorship deals through SNAP and have used their profile to attract new local sponsorship interest. Companies such as InterMoor, John Williamson Group and The New Greentrees have contributed to Dyce’s increase in sponsorship! Phil posted on social media: "[Dyce RFC] has boosted its sponsorship income by more than 400% in a single year after partnering with [SNAP Sponsorship]” Dyce’s story demonstrates that any club of any size can increase their sponsorship income. This means sponsorship is versatile as long as there are creative activations that engage and have meaningful value with potential consumers, therefore, ensuring that it is attractive for the business to sponsor.
Dyce RFC is a small club, based just outside Aberdeen. The club has a long history, being founded in 1983, but remains at the forefront of the community as it enables families, friends, and supporters a place to socialise. Their grounds consist of a leased full-size grass pitch, a shipping container as storage & their local pub, The New Greentrees as their clubhouse. However, their lack of infrastructure does not set them back as they are committed to monetising their existing assets. Even though Dyce RFC is a relatively small grassroots rugby club, they are still extremely attractive to sponsors as they have strong community opportunities in addition to both tangible & intangible assets. When attracting new sponsors, Phil Horsfall added... “We are committed to giving you and your company the exposure and promotion you deserve. We recognise that without your support many of our lads would not be enjoying their rugby at the weekend!” Dyce RFC is a relatively small club with around 100 members, but they know what their value is to a local business. They did simple calculations to show what value their membership could be to a potential sponsor. Dyce calculated that out of their 100 members, half may drive to the matches and training, so that’s 50 cars. All of those 50 cars will need MOT’s at some point in a year, and if 20% of those cars fail then remedial work would be carried out at an average of £100 per failure. 50xMOT (average £45) = £2250 per year 10xRemedial work (average £100) = £1000 per year Total revenue = £3250 per year In this example they tagged all of the local car garages and showed them what potential there was to the business by sponsoring a player at the club. Dyce RFC have fully engaged with their SNAP profile using the management system to effectively renew many of their pre-existing sponsors. They have been able to add sponsorship activations and tasks for their various sponsorship deals and maintain contact with their sponsors. In addition, the club has secured two new sponsorship deals through SNAP and have used their profile to attract new local sponsorship interest. Companies such as InterMoor, John Williamson Group and The New Greentrees have contributed to Dyce’s increase in sponsorship! Phil posted on social media: "[Dyce RFC] has boosted its sponsorship income by more than 400% in a single year after partnering with [SNAP Sponsorship]” Dyce’s story demonstrates that any club of any size can increase their sponsorship income. This means sponsorship is versatile as long as there are creative activations that engage and have meaningful value with potential consumers, therefore, ensuring that it is attractive for the business to sponsor.
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Interview: Sarah Saunders
Interview with Sarah Saunders Commercial & Marketing Manager at Blackheath Rugby Sarah explains what her role at Blackheath Rugby involves and the challenges she faces. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved in rugby? I’ve spent the last 15 years or so working in golf at two high end clubs in Kent. Before that I worked for a company providing premium solutions for marketing campaigns which took me all over the world working for various blue chips including PepsiCo and the Disney Corporation. A chance conversation with one of my members at my last golf club, Littlestone, started the ball rolling and a year or so after that initial conversation I found myself enthralled by the prospect of working with Club and made the change. It’s been a big learning curve of course but a thoroughly enjoyable one.
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Interview: Sarah Saunders Blackheath is based South-East London which is probably one of the most populated areas in the country for rugby clubs. How does this affect the club when reaching out for new sponsors/partners? It’s a double edged sword. Of course I came to Club bang in the middle of the pandemic so I’ve not experienced a ‘normal year’ thus far but I’ve found every bit of available sponsorship is being spread more thinly and it’s far more about exposure and how we can partner with our sponsors to benefit their business. Being in SE London as you said, competition is fierce but we have we have a fantastic pedigree being the oldest open rugby club in the world and now we have far better systems in place to maximise the opportunities for sponsors. The facilities at Blackheath offer a wide range of commercial opportunities. Tell us how you take advantage of this. We do! Our geographical situation is unique being literally on the corner of the A2 and South Circular and with a massive car park (a rarity in itself in this location) and 5 minutes from Eltham Station. Our pitches are complimented by an all-weather pitch with flood lights too and of course are first team pitch is second to none! We have pretty much full utilisation for our outside space and we are now focusing on our inside spaces. We already have three weddings booked for 2022 and numerous private parties as the clubhouse has capacity for 100 plus and is great space, however it stands empty during much of the week day, day time so would love to get some local community groups using it and I will be concentrating on that early in 2022. Sports sponsorship is constantly evolving. What new sponsorship opportunities have you been offering at the club? When I first came to Club, we were in the middle of creating a new website and that was completed early this year together with an online retail facility too. I also bought in a new system called Intelligent Sport which is developed by Intelligent Golf. This is an holistic product linking EPOS, Membership and communications and provides excellent reporting to enabling far more accurate data for budgeting. We have grown our social media presence so we now have this plus our communications and website linking together and giving our sponsors a high visual presence to our membership and supporters. The days of a pitch side sign being the only advertising for sponsors is long gone although it still forms part of the packages I offer. I spoke before about partnerships so if a sponsor takes a page on my website for example, they can update their call to action or offers as often as they wish and this is repeated in my communications which are often twice weekly. Alongside this are kit and player sponsorship and we have invested in an enormous stand cover for the off season which can be seen clearly from the A2 (and space!) I am also more than happy to create bespoke packages for customers
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that want something specific so flexibility is key. How important is developing relationships within the local when help to grow the commercial department at the club? Vital of course. We want to do even more but this year we decided to offer all young adults aged between 18 and 22 free membership of the club. This was a direct result of the pandemic when statistics suggested those just starting out in university or their first jobs were isolated from their peers and suffering with their mental health. We wanted to encourage those young people to come along to training, socialise with team mates and benefit from both without any financial restraints. We also work with Greenwich in supporting their programme offering lunch combined with sport for school aged children during the school holidays and we provide coaches for that. The benefits commercially are simply to increase our presence in the community. Many people that have booked with us for funerals or parties etc are unaware that we have facilities to hire and only found out about us because of referrals. The past 18 months has been challenging for all rugby clubs. How has it affected Blackheath Rugby Club, and the commercial department? Of course it’s been catastrophic for us all. We rely heavily on match day sales from the gate, F&B and merchandise. This was gone in an instant and even since rugby came back gate sales have not completely recovered as people still act with some caution. In terms of sponsorship, many of the conversations I’ve had have been focused on Brexit and the pandemic and many companies are acting, understandable with trepidation and of course the first budgets to be cut in an economic crises seems to be the marketing one. One conversation I had stays with me and that was of an organisation who started by telling me that 2020 was their best financial year on record but they wouldn’t consider sponsorship because they didn’t need any more business! That was a unique prospective but primarily companies are nervous of committing because of the current uncertainty. However we have new sponsors and retained many of those from the previous season. We have the tools in place to support our partners and so far feedback has been good and commitment given for next season. And finally, what does the future hold for Blackheath Rugby Club and the commercial team? Our membership is growing and utilisation of the club house increasing and this trend looks to continue. We have spent the last 18 months upgrading the facilities and developing initiatives to drive the business forward plus we have the most dedicated and loyal membership and supporters working together to ensure success. Of course the realities of the current situation still hang over us all but we will continue to focus on the future and adapt to face any further challenges.
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Featured: Community Heartbeat Trust
Image: Presentation of the defibrillator to Ludlow RFC
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Not all heroes wear capes, some wear gumshields The Community Heartbeat Trust are highlighting the importance and raising awareness of how valuable defibrillators can be for the rugby community Four years ago, Richmond Rugby had personal experience of how valuable defibrillators can be. A tragedy was only averted because the Club were lucky enough to have a working defibrillator and trained people in place. Sadly, the Club could not avoid tragedy away from its own pitches and were hit hard with two premature deaths of two great friends of the veteran’s side (the Heavies) with cardiac related attacks, in quick succession. This was the driving force behind the formation of The Richmond Heavies Foundation (“The Foundation”), whose purpose is to protect and support the clubs’ members, as well as help in the wider rugby community.
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Featured: Community Heartbeat Trust Equally importantly it established a Defibrillator Fund, whose purpose is to provide defibrillators to community rugby clubs who cannot afford this lifesaving device. The Richmond Rugby community has risen to the challenge of providing defibs for clubs unable to fund equipment themselves with typical vigour, working through the National Defibrillator charity, the Community Heartbeat Trust (www.communityheartbeat.org.uk) . Firstly, in 2020, Rupert Allhusen became the first front row forward to successfully swim the English channel, a feat made all the more remarkable given he trained for the event during the first lockdown! In September 2021, 10 Club members and friends of The Foundation took on the challenge of cycling from Lands End to John O Groats – just under 1,000 miles in just 9 days, an incredible effort given their combined age is well over half the miles to be covered! These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things to raise money to save lives in the rugby community. The frightening images of Christian Eriksen receiving life-saving care on the football pitch at the Euros in front of a global TV audience highlighted the issue of heart health and provided an almost textbook example of
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how the timely intervention of trained people with a working defibrillator can save lives. This support is standard procedure for most elite sporting events, but the sad fact is within the community game lives are lost every year due to sudden cardiac events and a lack of trained personnel and working defibrillators. In August 2021, a young Welsh rugby player from Cwmllynfell RFC, Alex Evans, 31, tragically lost his life after suffering a cardiac arrest during a match, leaving a partner and a young daughter. In September 2021, a young English player from Henley RFC, David Hyde, 29, collapsed in the changing room after a match after suffering a cardiac arrest and died in hospital that evening leaving behind a devasted wife and young son. These heart-rending stories are sadly far too common. There are over 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK. Survival rates are extremely poor at around 6%, one of the lowest in the developed world. So, on the evening of Friday 8th October, during a veterans rugby match between Ealing Evergreen and UCS Old Boys, when Ealing player John Fenlon collapsed on the field after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest during the match, things didn’t look promising.
Featured: Community Heartbeat Trust
However, two players, Justin Green and Sid Young, who had both just been on First Aid courses, rushed to help and, with a defibrillator available at the club, saved the player’s life. Mr Green explained “I didn’t think I would need to use the CPR training, but the situation was serendipity exemplified. When John collapsed right by me and he didn’t have a pulse, I was super confident, very much in control.” “The other first aid trained number 9, Sid Young, and I could run the resuscitation, but you need several people who know what they are doing. This has been very powerful for me as an individual and I’ve been walking on air having done something so positive. John’s wife and two young children have escaped an alternative existence and I’m so glad. We worked as a team, the paramedics were amazing as were the cardiologists at Hammersmith.” Mr Young concurred, “That first aid course gave me the confidence to act quickly. I ran across to the clubhouse and back with the defibrillator and then I was helping Justin. Once you have the defibrillator the machine advises you to shock and then suggests further compressions so I took it in turns with Justin who found a pulse.” “The guy running our course said survival with a defibrillator is 70% and it’s incredible how easy they are to use, how straight forward it is. I’d say to everyone do this course and you might help someone on the pitch, a friend or a stranger. You really might save a life."
John Fenlon, who is 42, the Ealing Evergreens player who suffered a heart attack was home from Hammersmith Hospital within four days, said: “The more that’s written the better about what Justin and Sid did, the benefits of the first aid course, and the difference a working defibrillator can make.” I’m so glad it [the cardiac arrest happened when people were there who knew what they were doing and had use of the defibrillator.” Steve Weekes, chairman of Ealing Trailfinders 1871, who was at the match: “The paramedics said we had done everything we could have to help John who is keen that all rugby players have access to the same training and facilities that saved his life. John has pledged his support to help the Richmond Heavies Foundation with their mission to get working defibrillators into all community rugby clubs in the land.” So far, in partnership with leading defibrillator charity Community Heartbeat Trust, The Richmond Heavies Foundation have helped 60 community rugby clubs get a proper working defibrillator and make their players, supporters and local rugby community a safer place. They continue to welcome defibrillator grant applications from community rugby clubs. For further details, please visit their website: https://richheaviesfdn.org/defibrillator-fund/ As recent events in both rugby and football have illustrated, defibrillators and trained first aiders can make a huge difference for players and supporters on and off the pitch.
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Featured: Fill Your Boots
Fill Your Boots launch new grassroots rugby social network London-based grassroots rugby platform Fill Your Boots has launched a brand-new social network, designed to help clubs across the UK find players, fixtures and resources – bringing together the grassroots rugby community like never before. Each region within England, Wales and Scotland has been assigned a ‘Rugby Finder’ group, which allows both clubs and players to network in order to make more rugby matches happen, whether that be via searching for fixtures or connecting with local players looking for a game. Through the platform’s ‘Find a Club map’, men and women interested in joining a club can view what’s available in their local area and sign up to partake in upcoming training sessions. The platform also provides a space for volunteers and coaches to interact and share advice via a dedicated forum, which has the capability to host Zoom meetings and catch-ups. The Fill Your Boots platform also contains an archive of mental, physical and emotional health-related content from contributors who are passionate about growing the
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game. From Fill Your Boots’ ‘Rugby Round Table’ series to Fill Your Boots’ ‘The Hard Line’, the platform’s programming features a plethora of resources for men, women and children of all ages to utilise. Sean Phelan, Founder of Fill Your Boots, said: “Over the last six years, it has been incredible to see Fill Your Boots go from strength to strength via Facebook and Twitter, but I now feel that it’s the perfect time to launch our own social network platform. "The combination of both the RFU’s cuts over the last few seasons and the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated that there’s a real DIY attitude within the grassroots game, and this new platform is the perfect place for everyone to come together, learn from one another, and make more rugby matches happen. “Everyone can sign up for free and create their own Fill Your Boots profile at www.fybrugby.com, and an app is currently in develop to be released in early 2022.”
For more information and to create your profile visit: www.fybrugby.com
"I now feel that it’s the perfect time to launch our own social network platform"
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Interview: Kenny Moore
Interview with Kenny Moore, Commercial Manager at Rosslyn Park Can you tell us a bit about your background? Rugby has always been a big part of my life. My Dad was a coach in the Army, so it was inevitable that I would start playing at a young age. Having started playing, aged 8, I was lucky enough to attend Kirkham Grammar School, which took the sport seriously, including having Brian Gornall (later to coach England’s U19’s for many years) as a coach. I continued to play through university and then for a season with London French and a few seasons at East Grinstead.
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Interview: Kenny Moore After finishing my studies, I was fortunate enough to combine my passion for rugby and sport with my interest in travel by working for the family business, Titan Groups ltd. I’ve since spent the last 20 years in the Travel Industry including Aer Lingus, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Royal Caribbean International in various roles in Marketing and Commercial Sales, before joining Rosslyn Park FC. Rosslyn Park is based South-West London which is another heavily populated area in the country for rugby clubs. How does this affect the club when reaching out for new sponsors/partners? There is no doubt that this area of London is heavily populated with clubs and this does make it a more competitive environment for finding sponsors. However, it also means that there is a wealth of rugby talent in the area and as a club with an incredibly rich history in the sport we are able to attract some of the best. Both those at the start of their careers and those that have already enjoyed a rich career in top flight rugby, as well as coaching talent. For example, this season, we are fortunate enough to have Phil Cokanasiga on loan from London Irish and Brandon Jackson from Saracens as well as signing Luc Smith, brother to Marcus Smith of Harlequins with all of them complimenting an already incredibly talented squad of players. Bryan Redpath, former Scotland international and Sean O’Brien former Ireland International have both joined our coaching staff this season and have been an excellent addition to the Club. These players and coaches, have all contributed to the club’s success and naturally make us a more appealing investment for potential sponsors. Due to the size of our club, we are able to be quite agile and flexible in our offerings; tailoring the sponsorship agreements to suit both the sponsor and the club and ensuring that brands get the maximum return for their investments. The facilities at Rosslyn Park offer a wide range of commercial opportunities. Tell us how you take advantage of this. One of the biggest changes we made was to install a 4g pitch, six years ago, which allows us to open up the club to a much wider audience for use. Local football teams, Schools, Universities, the wider community as well as professional sports teams all enjoy our facilities on a weekly basis. The club’s grounds, fitness facilities and bars, including an outdoor bar mean that we are able to run a number of different types of events, from charity events, fitness to big screenings of sports and films. We explore every opportunity to maximise the space and facilities that we have, including car parking facilities and the rental of rooms in our clubhouse by
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physiotherapists and other specialist groups and individuals. Our aim is to optimise the use of the space and we are always looking at ways to create new revenue streams. Alongside this, we feel that it is important to give back to our community. One of the ways we do this is to work with Wandsworth Council to facilitate work such as the Marcus Rashford Holiday Activity & Food Programme offering essential support to the youth in our community outside of the school year. Rossyln Park also host their own events. Can you tell us more about how this contributes to the commercial department? One of our biggest events we have is the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s. A tournament that was founded over 80 years ago and continues to be something that we are very proud of. This allows us to talk to a wider audience and explore different relationships that the club, alone, may not have access to. We also own and operate the London Flood Lit 7’s which traditionally attracts top teams internationally and from the Premiership which allows for greater exposure for our sponsors but also affords the opportunity to bring in new sponsors specific to the event. Of course, operating these events alongside the club allows us to dynamically package these events together to offer potential sponsors a wide variety of exposure under one roof. How important is developing relationships within the local when help to grow the commercial department at the club? I believe it is incredibly important to develop relationships within the local community. You never know who you may come in to contact with; they could be the next big sponsor of the club. The further you cast your net the bigger the reach and pretty soon people will get to know who you are. The more we can get people talking about Rosslyn Park the better, as this will only lead to referrals and recommendations. We have strong relationships with many businesses in our area through introductions from our local council Chamber of Commerce meetings. These types of networking opportunities are invaluable to our wider success, but nothing beats pounding the pavement and putting yourself out there. My challenge for 2022 is to really connect with our local community and businesses to inform them of the club and the success we are currently enjoying, and open up the dialogue by inviting them to games to experience for themselves what it is like to be part of the Rosslyn Park family.
I’m a big believer in trying to help the community, especially after the last few years that we have had with COVID restrictions. Anything we can do to offer a break from the norm and inject some enjoyment on a weekend is a win in my book. The past 18 months has been challenging for all rugby clubs. How has it affected Rosslyn Park, and the commercial department? Everyone has faced incredible challenges in the last 18 months. At Rosslyn Park we have been incredibly fortunate to have the consistent support of our loyal sponsors, incredibly generous members and passionate fans during these difficult times. They certainly rallied around the club and ensured that the club remained on the right track.
opportunities to our sponsors, potential sponsors and partners. This will undoubtedly afford new challenges to the commercial team around sponsorship and match days but will be an exciting opportunity for the department to once again challenge our creativity and resolve to set the right path for the club. The growth of the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens is also important to us with expansion of the tournament, with the growth of women’s rugby, and broadening our horizons Internationally. We would also like to further establish the The London flood lit 7’s as the premium 7’s tournament for top flight clubs from around the world.
tWe have a number of wellestablished partnerships that were lucky enough not to be so severely impacted by the pandemic, including our commercial kitchens food providers, professional sports clubs that use our facilities as well as a number of other revenue streams. However, the uncertain environment has also challenged us to think outside the box and utilise every aspect of the club to its full potential. We are always looking at ways to innovate and offer as much as we can within the changing Covid restrictions. This has included the purchase of an outdoor bar so we can operate in a safer environment by not putting too much pressure on the club house bars And finally, what does the future hold for Rosslyn Park and the commercial team? The club’s greatest ambition for Rosslyn Park is to achieve promotion to the championship at the end of this season. If the team are able to maintain their current lead and succeed in this, there will undoubtably be a number of new
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Swiftclean sponsor Rochford Hundred Southend-based Swiftclean UK Ltd has confirmed its sponsorship of Rochford Hundred Rugby Club, as it enters its new season, this year competing in the National Leagues. Following the pause in play for the COVID pandemic, the return to live matches has been keenly anticipated by both club and sponsors. Duct cleaning and legionella risk control expert Swiftclean has sponsored the club faithfully for many years, and is delighted to see the club’s promotion, eagerly expecting another successful season as it faces the exciting challenge of National League Rugby. Swiftclean MD Gary Nicholls is a former player for the club, and has been an ardent supporter for many years. “It has been a delight to watch the club pursue and achieving such excellence,” he said. “The track record that they have established has been outstanding and has led to this well-deserved advancement. As firm believers, as a company, in teamwork, discipline and hard work, it has been a logical and very rewarding decision to lend our support for the past two decades and more. There is such synergy between Swiftclean’s values and those of the club. We wish the guys every success in the coming season and fully expect to see even more wins to their credit. I’m really looking forward to watching as many as I can of the matches that lie ahead.” Club Chairman Ray Stephenson said “I have known Gary Nicholls for many years and in my first year of my second spell as Chairman of Rochford Hundred RFC I was very pleased that Gary was willing, yet again, to offer his support to our Club. We have used Swiftclean ourselves for many years and can certainly vouch for them as an outstanding company”. In addition to sponsoring Rochford Hundred Rugby Club, award-winning Swiftclean takes an active role in the local community, spotting and recruiting local talent where possible, and investing in apprenticeships and specialist technical training, for its both office staff and field operatives.
Bury St Edmunds announce college partnership The club are excited to relaunch the Rugby Academy in partnership with West Suffolk College. It will providing a professional rugby programme for 6th form students along side their studying. We will be offering Strength and Conditioning sessions, Rugby analysis sessions and Rugby sessions all tailored into their timetable. This programme is a fantastic way of students being able to be continue their studying whilst training like a full time rugby player. Whilst rugby is very important part of the programme we are investing heavily into
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providing as much support to the students to help them onto their next steps, whether it's to university or into work life. Eventually we want to be the best non fee paying rugby college in East Anglia. It's a great opportunity for the students to learn and be coached by Bury St Edmunds 1st XV coaches, whilst it is ran by Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club the college is open to any students who play at any rugby club.
Darlington Mowden Park announce Youngs RPS Darlington Mowden Park are delighted to welcome Youngs RPS as official sponsors for the 2021/22 season. Youngs RPS is one of the leading, independent local firms of RICS Rural and Commercial Surveyors, Land and Estate Agents and RTPI Planning and Development Consultants. Their team of experts operate nationally, but principally across the North of England and Scotland. Founded over 140 years ago in Chester-le-Street, the company now has offices across the North of England, including Hexham, Newcastle, Alnwick, Sedgefield, Northallerton and now their latest branch in Darlington. Asked about the new partnership, Graeme Bruce, Managing Director at Youngs RPS commented: “We believe strongly in supporting our local community and are thrilled to be official club sponsors for what will hopefully be a successful 2021/2022 season!” The new partnership will see Youngs RPS’ distinctive branding appear around the Arena for the 2021/22 National One campaign. Commenting on the latest addition to the club’s growing network of sponsors and partners, DMP Marketing Manager Tom Bulmer added: “We’re delighted to welcome Youngs RPS to the Mowden Family for the upcoming season. Having spoken to Emma and the team at the Darlington office it’s clear that they have a passion for backing local sport and we’re very grateful for their support this year. We look forward to working with Youngs RPS for many seasons to come!”
Bury St Edmunds announce college partnership Seven cherry blossom trees have been planted at the Athletic Ground. On Thursday 16th December, Richmond Rugby welcomed Minister Takeshi Ito of the Embassy of Japan and Lady Victoria Borthwick, together with a number of local councillors and guests to the Athletic Ground for a special tree planting ceremony. The event marked the planting of seven cherry blossom trees which have been donated by the Japanese Government’s ‘Sakura Project’. The seven trees have been planted at the top of Pitch 4, as part of the groundbreaking project which aims to plant 7,000 trees to over 200 sites in the UK.
The trees have been planted in special memory of one of Japan’s most famous rugby players and coaches, the late Seiji Hirao, who won 35 international caps, and played for Richmond during the 1985/86 season. Richmond Rugby Limited Chairman Nick Preston said: “I had the enormous privilege of playing with Seiji at Richmond and he was an exceptionally talented player who was much loved at our club. The trees are not only a beautiful addition to our ground but also a very special tribute to Seiji and our ongoing friendship with Japanese Rugby and our partnership with Shibuya Rugby Club. “We would like to thank the Japanese Government and the Sakura Project for donating the magnificent trees and to Reg Clark from club partner Rhino Rugby for organising this fantastic event. We are very excited to see the trees grow and blossom over the coming years.”
This kit will be recycled and passed on to rugby teams and players in developing countries to aid their development in the world of rugby. Northwich members will recall Geordie used to do this in the local area before moving to Northumberland. With support from the club Giles will take up this mantle for the Cheshire and Shropshire area. Building friendships Andy from Fleetwood Rugby was very grateful for this kit donation and he has invited the Superstars up for games and beach fun in the summer. What is SOS KIT AID ?
Northwich RUFC donate rugby kit
SOS Kit Aid exists because sport changes lives. The club's mission is to recycle sports kit for the benefit of young people in the UK and overseas so they are given a sporting chance. We make a positive and tangible impact on children’s lives by giving them the chance to participate in sporting activities; promote social inclusion; and protect the environment.
Giles and Alistair Rigby took a car-load of old Northwich first team kits to Andy at Fleetwood Rugby Club who runs SOS Kit aid.
The club's vision is to give all children access to sport, and in doing so, reduce the volume of sports kit in landfill sites.
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From the professional game
Six Nations Rugby appoint Ronan Dunne as Non-Executive Chairman
World Rugby launch Brain Health Initiative
Six Nations Rugby have announced that Ronan Dunne has been appointed as Non-Executive Chairman effective 1 Jan 2022. The Six Nations Board is the newly formed body overseeing the commercial and marketing operations for the Men’s, Women’s and Under-20 Six Nations championships as well as the Autumn Nations Series. The appointment follows the completion of CVC’s strategic investment into Six Nations Rugby and is the result of a rigorous recruitment process led jointly by the unions and CVC.
World Rugby, national unions and International Rugby Players have launched the Brain Health Initiative, a global education campaign to increase understanding of the importance of brain health within the rugby family.
With more than two decades of executive experience in the media, digital and data world, Dunne will provide strategic direction to Six Nations Rugby’s senior executive team, led by Chief Executive Officer Ben Morel.
Initially aimed at current and former professional players, this groundbreaking campaign is being launched at the World Rugby Medical Commission Conference in London. It reflects World Rugby’s ongoing conversations with member unions, leading independent scientific and medical experts, and local healthcare authorities with specialist provision for medical and social care directed towards brain health. This is also a reflection of World Rugby’s aim to maintain rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare.
Premiership Rugby and Gallagher announce multi-year partnership renewal Premiership Rugby and Gallagher have announced a multi-year renewal of their existing partnership. Gallagher, one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services companies, has reaffirmed its commitment to the sport as the official title partner to elite rugby’s most competitive league. The partnership extension builds on its first four years of a successful sponsorship that has delivered year-on-year increases in brand awareness and business value. Grassroots engagement has also been central to Gallagher’s partnership alongside its support of the professional game, including its sponsorship of Project Rugby. Run in conjunction with Premiership Rugby and England Rugby, this ground-breaking community inclusion programme – which is set to welcome its milestone 70,000th participant – continues to break down barriers to participation in the sport and increase the accessibility of rugby to young people from under-represented groups and parts of society. Having established itself as a professional sports competition of global relevance and reach, Gallagher Premiership Rugby now enjoys an international audience of more than 150 million households across 135 different territories, mirroring Gallagher’s own global footprint. In the UK, TV audiences watching Gallagher Premiership Rugby have grown strongly. BT Sport saw a 16% rise in the average audience last season – a level of growth that has continued into the 2021-22 campaign.
Betfred Women’s Super League to expand again in 2022
Super League announce broadcasting deal with Channel 4
The Betfred Women’s Super League will expand again in 2022 after the pandemic delayed planned expansion to 12 teams in 2021.
Super League has announced a landmark deal which will see Channel 4 broadcast Betfred Super League matches in 2022. This initial two-year partnership will see matches broadcast free-to-air for the first time in the competition’s 26-year history. Channel 4 will broadcast 10 live games each season, starting with eight-time Champions Leeds Rhinos hosting Warrington Wolves on Saturday 12 February (1230). The remaining nine games will be spread across the season and will include two end of season Play-Off fixtures. The 2021 Betfred Super League season saw record viewing figures with more games than ever attracting over 200,000 live viewers. By offering sports fans the opportunity to watch games via a free-to-air broadcaster, these figures will continue to show significant growth in 2022.
Barrow Raiders and Leigh Miners Rangers, who finished first and second in the Women’s RL Championship in 2021, have been promoted to join the 10 BWSL clubs – meaning the competition will have expanded by 200% since it was launched as a four-team Super League in 2017. Huddersfield Giants, who won the BWSL Shield on Grand Finals Day at Emerald Headingley in October after the 10-team competition split into two groups of five midway through the season, have earned promotion to a six-team Group 1 in 2022.
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