I hope everyone is keeping safe and well during these unusual times.
It seems a long time since the season ended prematurely and the clubhouse was mothballed. However, as things slowly return to normal, I thought it may be a good time to bring members up to date with what has been happening, during lockdown and our plans to reintroduce rugby.
Many of you will be aware that the clubhouse is usually in constant use and as such we rarely get the chance to carry out much needed maintenance. Lockdown has given us an unexpected opportunity to carry out repairs, do deep cleaning and redecorate the clubhouse, particularly the changing rooms, which as players will know, were in dire need of attention.
We continue to maintain the pitches to keep them in good condition, for a return to rugby and have recently strimmed the long grass around the perimeter of the ground, revealing hundreds of discarded plastic bottles. These were picked up and will now be recycled.
Over the next few weeks, in preparation for the winter months, we are planning to do some maintenance work on the floodlights, which are temperamental to say the least. We were hoping to have been able to replace the tungsten halogen lamps which are unreliable and expensive, with more efficient LED lamps and have applied to several funding sources for a grant although to date we have not been successful.
Plans for a new clubhouse are still very much on the table but have been placed on hold during the pandemic. More news will follow in the Autumn.
Senior and youth players have returned to socially distanced training in accordance with the RFU community rugby roadmap. Return to Rugby Roadmap. We are now at phase C of a 6-stage plan which means that teams of up to 10 players can engage in non-contact match activity based on the RFU’s Ready4Rugby guidelines but only at their own club; Ready4Rugby.
The RFU hopes to move to non-contact inter-club Ready4Rugby in September and it is anticipated that it will be at least November before full contact rugby will be allowed.
It is important that coaches ensure that the RFU and government Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines are followed. Any increase in Covid-19, attributable to rugby activity, would see us return to Phase B and further delay the return to the full contact game we all know and love.
Youth/Mini rugby, again following the Ready4Rugby guidelines, will commence in September as usual.
All players, from all sections, must be registered for ‘track & trace’ purposes
Please note that the RFU has made major changes to the Age Grade registration process for this year. This will now require direct action by each parent to confirm contact details and re-register their child, so Chris Collison and John Strickland will be contacting all parents with guidance on how we achieve this.
To celebrate reaching Phase C in and, in conjunction with the RFU, we are planning a ‘Pitch up for Rugby’ day on Saturday 12th September. On the day we will be organising ‘Ready4Rugby’ matches for all comers and off the pitch the facilities will be open and there will be a BBQ. More details will follow shortly.
The 1st XV fixtures for 2020-2021 have now been published RFU Fixtures. Tabard are in London NW3. The leagues have been split into two conferences based, as far as possible, on geography. The fixtures are arranged in three windows, with a view to providing three points to equitably conclude a curtailed and/or interrupted season. Dates will be set when it is deemed safe to return to play, i.e. when we reach Stage F, on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap.
Financially, the club is facing a difficult period. Despite Covid-19 it is still necessary to carry out repairs and cyclical maintenance to the clubhouse. The pitch and grounds require to be kept in good order and monthly direct debits continue to be collected. However, we are receiving little or no income from hires, sponsorship, social events, or the bar. Our only form of income is through subscriptions.
Membership fees will remain unchanged and we would appreciate those of you who are able to do so, pay your subscriptions, as usual, in September.
We understand that there could be members facing hardship because of Covid-19 and we would not wish to see anyone leave the club because they cannot afford to pay. If you are experiencing difficulties paying your subscriptions, then please contact, in confidence, the membership secretary, John Strickland, at firstname.lastname@example.org, who will be able to help.
To further support those who may be finding things particularly difficult now, a team of club members have been working with the Welwyn RFC based mental health support organisation, ‘Just One Click Away’ (JOCA - pronounced "Joker").
JOCA was set up in response to a series of tragic events that took the lives of several Welwyn club members within a very short period. The organisation provides training & funding to clubs that wish to offer their membership access to anonymous, quick, and free mental health support, and we will be rolling this out at Tabard very soon.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish members, their family and friends, the very best of health and I look forward to seeing as many as possible for our ‘Pitch up for Rugby’ celebrations on 12th September.