Issue 90 - Page 28

... CONTINUED
We have a number of other social events planned for the remainder of the season which will include three more Vice-Presidents ’ lunches , Christmas lunch , Boxing Day Family Day ( including our 500 Club Draw ), Ladies Lunch , Golden Jubilee dinner with John Inverdale as a special guest and finally our Cider and Sausage Festival incorporating the McCue Cup game .
On the pitch our first XV are finding their feet in the level 5 National League and all other sides are enjoying relative success . Just prior to lockdown we had 917 fully paid up members . This number reduced to 860 during season 2020-2021 which was a brilliant result considering we were unable to do much either on or off the pitch . During this period our main sponsors and a large percentage of our local advertisers also stood by us which helped with the lack of normal income during this period .
We have entered the new season , and two months in
our fully paid up membership is now over 860 and growing . We currently have two girl squads at u13 and u15 and are keen to see this develop over the coming seasons .
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT 3 SEASONS ? We are keen to establish our first XV in the National Leagues level 5 and have our second XV playing in the Southern Counties ( Level 7 ) – fingers crossed pending the RFU restructure for next season . We plan to continue to expand our youth and girls sections and continue to improve our facilities . Our new Gym should be operational within the next twelve months and other capital projects include the construction of new treatment rooms , a club shop , new offices and continued investment in our playing and training areas .
HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUTH RUGBY TO THE CLUB ? We firmly believe that it is vital to the continued success of our club ( see publications ).
As we ’ ve already stated the majority of our senior players are all graduates of our youth programme . Indeed many of our players have been part of the club since joining at under 6 . Taking the whole of season 2019 – 2020 , our first XV match day squad of 18 players was made up of on average of 15 home grown players , i . e . graduates of our youth section . We are keen to extend our work with local schools and would like the RFU to consider once again in investing in this type of activity .
DO YOU OR DO YOU PLAN TO HAVE A WOMEN ’ S / GIRLS ’ TEAM ? We already have two girls ’ teams – under 13 and under 15 and have an active recruitment campaign to continue to grow this section of our club . We see it as an opportunity to expand our service to the local community in line with the developing national trend of more girls taking part in rugby . We aspire to have girls represented at all age groups .
HOW DOES THE CLUB ENSURE THAT YOUNG PLAYERS ENJOY A SMOOTH TRANSITION INTO THE SENIOR GAME ? Historically this was an issue for us which we have worked on to improve over the last 10 years and in recent seasons we have experienced improved success in transitioning players into our senior section . We can attribute this largely to the implementation of our player pathway model . A few seasons ago we began to look a lot deeper into exactly what was happening at the transitional drop off areas in sport and how we could ensure there was a more effective retention process in place . We made our initial new intervention , a little earlier than most , by starting our first transitional step at U16 where there is a known drop off nationally as players move to Colts ( U18 ) rugby .
This focus has also resulted in us introducing a joint coaching group for our U16s and Colt age groups . The players are encouraged to mix more socially across the U16 , 17 and 18 teams . An example of good practice is that we provide a hot meal for them after midweek training when they can come into the club and sit down together . The under 18s are also joined in their meal by members of the senior squad . As a result of this activity , and the associated revised organisation , we have now seen more players retained through the U16 to U18 stages . In turn , this has also led to us being able to transition more players into the seniors . As stated earlier , taking the whole of season

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’ s such a wonderful place to meet with like-minded people and make new friends .

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