Club shop update

Samurai have been managing the online store on the Club’s behalf for a season. During the last few months we’ve been looking into how to get the best experience from our relationship with Samurai, the conclusion of which is that we are asking them to hold too much bespoke TWRFC gear, and in some cases it makes sense to replace with core Samurai stock (explained below).

Our approach will be try and reduce the number of bespoke items we are using and holding stock for.

  • Where we really do need an ‘essential’ item to be bespoke (socks & playing shirts) – TWRFC will try to maintain a stock with Samurai.
  • Where we don’t really need an ‘essential’ item to be bespoke (shorts) – we will allow our stock to run-down and replace with a stock Samurai item.
  • Where an item is not ‘essential’ or there is not enough demand to hold stock (hoodies) – we will make these available to order via ‘order-windows’ (explained below).

Since we moved to Samurai – we still have some (assorted) stock left in the the St Marks’ club shop which we will be looking to sell if possible.. planning’s still under way, but a pop-up shop at the TJs game (30th Aug) and first-mini’s session (8th Sept) are likely.  If anybody is able to help with either please do get in touch (mcroker@gmail.com, 07770 936977).  The stock we have left to sell is generally some leisure items such as polo shirts, beanie hats, some umbrellas and also so rain-smocks, but not either shorts or socks.

Key changes

Item From
Youth playing shirts

Historically the youth section have had bespoke shirts with a different design for each age-group, and arrangement which has caused all sorts of logistical problems. These have not been available online.

Following the generosity of our youth sponsors (and some hard work by Andre and Simon) we are moving to a single shirt design across the entire youth section.  Even better – the sponsors have all committed to TWRFC for 3 years. More communication on this to come…

As the shirts are the same across the whole youth section – we will shortly be able to stock these online.

Socks

No change – these will remain ‘as is’

I have two batches on order – one of which has just arrived, but not yet been reflected in the online store (expect this next week – although the 1st team have grabbed a portion of the ‘L’s) and another one about 2-3 weeks behind.

Shorts

The cost/overhead of using bespoke shorts isn’t justified.

The residual TWRFC Bespoke White/Gold Trim Shorts will continue to be available through the online store whilst stocks last, but will not be replenished (the race is on to get the last 9 3XL shorts). We will replace with Samurai Stock Navy Shorts.

NB: If there’s enough demand for the white/gold trim shorts I will consider making these available via an order-window.

Blue/Pink Hoodies

I like these tops and intend to continue to make them available, but can’t justify the cost/overhead of holding stock for bespoke hoodies.  I will be allowing our stock of these to run-out and won’t be replenishing the online stock; instead these will be available using an order-window (explained below).

What’s an order-window?

Rather than holding stock of bespoke items, we can instead batch together your orders into an ‘order-window’.  We have done this before on a few occasions such as the chequered playing top, and it worked well. This provides a good compromise between making things available, and us having to hold the stock.  It also should help manage expectations of how long these items will take.

The way it works is that the bespoke items are added to the online store for a limited period of time (the ‘order-window).  At the end of the order-window, provided that the minimum order quantity has been met (usually 10 items) – the order will be batched together, manufactured and shipped to us.  Typically this will be 6-8 weeks from then end of the order-window.

Why? – Bespoke vs. Stock

The eagle-eyed may have noticed there are two types of item in the club shop:

  • Bespoke goods manufactured specifically for TWRFC: The can be identified by the tag “TONBRIDGE STOCK” and includes our custom hooped socks, the blue/pink hoodies, the match shorts with the white/gold trim and of course any playing tops.
  • Samurai stock goods which are customised with TWRFC logo: These can be identified by the tag “CORE STOCK” and includes pretty much anything else… blue hoodies, T-shirts, polo shirts, navy shorts, …

Bespoke goods are a bit of a pain – they have to be ordered by TWRFC in a minimum order quantity, and take 6-8 weeks to be manufactured and arrive into the online shop (compared with slightly over a week for the core stock).  Managing stock levels for core stock is also entirely Samurai’s responsibility (that’s not to say they never go out of stock – but it happens less frequently).

To try and make this a better experience for everybody the club (previously Michelle, now I) pre-orders some of the bespoke items and then holds them in stock at Samurai.  It’s a bit of a matter of guess-work, the club can’t afford to hold lots of excess kit and our demand is so ‘peaky’ that we sometime under/over order. Both under/over ordering cause issues – in one case the club ends up owning stock we can’t recover our costs from, and in the other goods people expected/need are not available for 6-8 weeks.

Wonga

Given I’m writing about Samurai – I also thought I’d answer a question raised at the AGM regarding what (if any) money the club makes from the online store.

The club does make a small amount of money on each item of clothing sold through the TWRFC club-shop – In return for appointing Samurai as our sole supplier of kit, Samurai give us a discount on all kit we order through them and also provide us a number of items free of charge (basically the first-team kit). Essentially our ‘slice’ is the difference between the online price and the club’s discounted price.

This isn’t a huge money spinner for us – and we try and keep TWRFC items at similar prices to those in the rest of the Samurai store (if you see an item that that isn’t the case for, please let me know).

Asterix gets his comeuppance

TWRFC vets 16- 66 Sevenoaks Vets

The year is 50 B.C. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. Meaning life is not easy for the Sevenoaks legionaries garrison outside the fortified camp of St Marcus, Tunbridge Wells. 

“Oh bollocks”, said Geriatrix Maynard as he rose from post gym slumber and wiped dribble from his chin, “the senility of old age has caused mayhem recently.” And with that he picked up the magic cauldron, of vets rugby brilliance, and, mistaking it for his chamber pot, poured the contents down the latrine….

Later that day, as the Sevenoaks garrison strapped their sandals, chief vital statistix, aka Gobby G, called his tribe of rugby heroes together and spelt out his cunning and erudite plan. “Errr…Let’s beat Sevenoaks at rugby and..er…Eat fish… it makes me rich”. 

The tribe cheered as the cauldron was placed in the changing room. “It looks a different than usual”, noted Beamicus the speedy, but they ignored him and carried on cheering. At least most of did… for fat father Obelix was strangely absent; awaiting a ride from a limping French immigrant called Gregoire dirtytarticus. 

Addipem bracus, the big britches, stirred the pot afresh and handed a spoon of infamous brew to the assembled Gauls. “Ooh it tastes different but somehow familiar” said camp Rainbow the bard, as Hackeriticus, not a swallower, spat his on the floor. “No it tastes like shit” said Sedgicus Caesar who had much better food awaiting upstairs.

“It a disaster” screamed Chinese dave, the slave with freakish cartoon lips and rounded tummy, as they realised the potion was gone. Hughesicius, Darbyititus,Mac Macias and webbitus did weep. Big Baldockus rent his garments. Lance lancius smoked a fag. And all the gauls agreed it was a disaster indeed. The game was minutes away, the potion missing and only Geriatrix body fluids to feed them. 

At first it seemed the plucky Guals might just do it without as they matched the ferocity of the well drilled Sevenoaks garrison. Tiny Asterix Miles running through their legs and scoring under the posts to even things at 10-10. But soon the lack of that magic fluid took its toll as the oafish Sevenoaks men, seven of whom were playing ones last year, began to turn the screw. Only Severus Slattery smiled for he was secretly one of them. And nasty Rigbius for he truly is evil. 

Oh dear! It all got too much for Zakaria and Parsonica. The first raging at the referee in frustration, the second squealing to the crowd about the missing liquid. “Don’t just gawp bring on the water!!” Only Getafix Whiting kept his cool, strangely tranquil as ever, even offering himself to the foe as a makeshift human carpet. 

The final score was 16-66 and so the drama is now on for the legend of Gaul lies in ruins. Will the plucky veterans return to winning ways? Will they turn instead to anger and vitriol – as did nasty Wrattenicus who deserved his yellow card? Or will they fade to obscurity? Tune in next time for the next exciting chapter of Asterix gets his comeuppance- aka “how to take a right old stuffing from a stupidity good team” If only Timmy Ali had not left camp he might have saved the day with that mighty left hook…

TWRFC Mini’s Festival 2018

We are really looking forward to welcoming 110 teams from 14 different clubs to St Marks on the 18th November.

This is always one of the highlights of the year for the club as we see over 1000 players from Under 7 to Under 11 play on the lovely St Marks pitches.

We hope the day will be a shining example of the values of rugby: Teamwork; Respect; Enjoyment; Discipline; Sportsmanship.

It would be great to see as many Friends of TWRFC turn up and support the festival with your presence, cheering and support. We have lots of coffee shops, food outlets and rugby to enjoy. We even have the world famous chef “Laurence Taylor and the Under 12’s” on the Burger stand!

We are delighted to again be sponsored by our friends at Markerstudy Group this year. We are both key parts of the Tunbridge Wells community and this festival should be something the town will be proud of.

COYW

Mike

Youth Chair

                                                                       

 

Summer Ball

So I think we’ve just about recovered from what was a very lively and entertaining evening. Feedback from Martin Corry was that he had a great time and really good to catch up with lots of old faces. Pete Gould is still counting the cost of each glass of champagne that he drinks from his Jereboam that he won in the auction. Overall it seemed a great success and feedback has been fantastic. I’ve no doubt that we’ll look at doing it again next year and no doubt it will be bigger and better….For those that missed it, chat to those that went, no doubt you’ll come next year! A massive thanks to all that helped me organise and if we do it again, we’ll need a lot more helpers!!!

We have several more Social events coming up so keep an eye on the website!

 

COYW!!

Vets report: Cranbrook away (friendly)

Cranbrook Vets 10- TWRFC Vets 54

A reading from the (less than) sacred scriptures 

And it came to pass, in the second year of the reign of King Creesius the lusty, that the Lord God commanded the ancient men of Tunbridge to battle the heathen men of Cranbrook. For Cranbrook were an brutish and ungodly rabble unpleasing to the Lord. 

And so, verily, the men of Tunbridge wandered to that far and distant land; robed only in cloth of finest blue, provided by an strange man of hideous appearance whose loins were girded heavily as to maketh his pants seemeth fat. 

And, hark, a whistle blew and the Spirit of the Lord descended- so as to maketh them all keen unto a man. And they did take the fight to the heathen heartily, the Baldock running hard, his knees lifted high, his chest stuck out, until the breath runneth from his lungs and his rounded belly dragged upon the earth. And he was joined in the warrior pack by an assortment of blessed disciples; Milo, Tiggy, Craney, Gray, Fatpants, Kenners, Mac, Croker and an dodgy looking chinaman named Taz.

And these mighty men did battle hard, singing hymns of love unto the prophetess Emily, and did provide much ball to the glory of God. And they were inspired by the oldest amongst them, an ancient man whose years span eight and fifty, and Maynard is his name. And he is an miracle. And he also played the day before, despite his crumbling form, for the seconds. And he is an hero of the vets. 

And lo! A giant then appereath from amongst them, Andrew by name, of the tribe of the Northern of Irish, who smashed the heathen aside to put the first points on the scoreboard. And then did a fishy prophet of the Lord, one Bob-eye Jee, kick the conversion. And the Lord was mighty pleased. 

And the whistle bleweth again and the men of Tunbridge returned to battle. And lo! A pretty angel did appear in the backs, sent by God, and his face was brilliant white and his buttocks rounded and firm. And he did score an brilliant try by using a dummy, scissors and pop. And Beamooooo was his name. And Bob-eye Jee did converteth again and the men rejoiced heartily…for it was now 14-0. 

And Beamoooo was joined amongst the angel host by other fair beings of smooth face and effeminate nature. And their names were Hacker, Daley, Webster, Wratton, Derbyshire, and Hughes. And an angel that was fallen stood amongst them, an demonic and evil being, whose leg was deformed. And Riggers was his name. And he was an horrid abomination before the Lord. And the men of God turned their faces from him. And none would speak of him. 

At his command the enemy rallied and the heathen respondeth with an glorious try- straight from the kick off- the ball sailing into the hands of a winger to frustrate the will of the Lord. But the men of Tunbridge were not afraid for a midget did then rise up from amongst them. And the midget did score an third try. And the people of God asketh him to stand before them. And Milo was his name. And the Bob-eye Jee did kick once more and the Lord was mighty pleased. 

But lo! What awful play is this? An calamitous and embarrassing knock on from an hairy and brutish man, Mac, whose anger spilleth over and who did provide for the heathen many penalties with his loutish play and angry visage. But the problems were overcometh when a soldier of the Lord, fleet of foot, did outsmart the enemy on the flanks. And Wratton was his name. But the try was not given for an monstrously foolish and ignorant man, named Croker, did raise his flag and call for a line out. But the soldier of the Lord was not dismayed and scoreth again and this time it stood. And the Bob-eye Jee kicketh but this time the ball striketh the post and the Lord was displeased. And Riggers did laugh for he is evil. 

Now there stood on the field an crippled man whose arm the Lord had healed; an copper man, strong of back but wonky of eye. And he did stand behind the pack to play scrum half for his healing was so recent. And Tiggy was his name. And he did try a fancy boxed kick and verily did make himself look like an arse. And riggers did laugh at his misfortune, for he is a vile and evil being, and wants to return at 9. 

And there was on that field of play also an greedy man who did run mazily through the heathen hoard to score under the post in the second half. And Charlie Hacker was his name. And he did convert his own try for the fishy prophet, Bob-eye Jee, was taking a breather. And the Tiggy also scoreth an try and the Hacker kicketh that also. 

And behold! The Bob-eye Jee did return to battle and was tackled naughtily by heathen swine. And the fury of the Lord possessed him and he did breathe mightily through is nose, red of face and awful stroppy. And he did smash his opposite man and whinge a plenty. And the heathen laughed at him and scored another try in return. 

And the battle drew to a close and the Lord proclaimed his delight in them all. And the men of Tunbridge did stay for a beer and also won the drink off. And then did they travel to the home of the fishy prophet, Bob-eye Je, for a festival of sausage cooked on a brazier of silver. And the men enjoyed their ‘bit of sausage’ and danced into the night. And two disciples of the Lord, Tiggy and Laurence, did attempt to entertain them all with gripping tales of a constabulary nature which sent them all to sleep.

And the Lord looked down on the mighty vets that day and saw that they were good. And he proclaimed this a year of jubilee and commanded them to go forth into the world of Kent and claim a cup of finest gold…the season has begun. 

Here endeth the lesson. 

What makes a stud legal?

As a regular ref I am increasingly seeing in the youth game (and to a lessor extent senior game) with players arriving for games in studs that are not legal and/or safe to play in.

As a ref, I hate it – My choice being to enforce the (entirely reasonable) letter of the law and not permit the player to take place in a game, or overlook it – and potentially take a degree of personal liability for permitting a player to take to the field in studs I know to be illegal (under Law 4).

The purpose of this blog – is to help parents (& players) make an informed decision and purchase legal rugby boots.

The RFU has published guidance on studs as part of their FAQ on player welfare, which states “Blades and studs are currently both acceptable as footwear for rugby (as long as they comply with the IRB regulations below). There is not currently a kite mark for rugby boots; manufacturers self certify their studs or blades against regulation 12 to check that they cause no more damage than traditional studs.”

In general if you are purchasing a boot advertised as a rugby boot from a reputable manufacturer/outlet you are probably OK. If it is advertised as a football boot – more checks are required. The final responsibility is with the players to ensure that they play in safe boots.

LAW 4 deals with players’ clothing – which includes footwear.

4.1. All items of clothing must comply with World Rugby Regulation 12.

4.3(j). Additional items are permitted. These are: Studs, including those of moulded rubber, on the soles of their boots.

4.5 A player may not wear:

b.Any sharp or abrasive item.

g. Any item that is normally permitted in law but, in the referee’s opinion, is liable to cause injury.

4.6 The referee has power to decide at any time, before or during the match, that part of a player’s clothing is dangerous or illegal. If the referee decides that clothing is dangerous or illegal the referee must order the player to remove it. The player must not take part in the match until the items of clothing are removed.

6.4 The match officials must inspect the players’ clothing and studs for conformity to Law 4.

Studs/cleats of player’s boots must conform with World Rugby Specifications (Regulation 12).

Conical or cylindrical stud

The key requirements are:

  • Must not be longer than 21 mm
  • Must not have any burring or sharp edges
  • At least 10mm diameter at the end
  • All edges of the studs/cleats should be finished smooth and rounded to a radius of not less than 1mm.
  • Must be made of a material that maintains these characteristics through the game (Nylon has been found previously not to be a suitable material due to its propensity to burring)

Note: There is no allowance for any differences based on age or boot-size. This photo is of my 5-year old’s (size 13) boot, demonstrating that even tiny boots can fit a legal stud  (and yes – I  have stolen the idea from someone on rugbyrefs.com and added a 10mm spanner to my kit bag).

 

Blades and non-cylindrical studs

The standard effectively is that…

  • The shape and dimensions of other stud/cleat designs should be such that they present a no greater risk of injury to another player than the stud/cleat shown in figure 1.
  • The plan view cross-sectional contact area of the stud/cleat shown in Figure 1 at a plane 2 mm below the tip is 78 mm2. Other studs/cleats having the same or greater contact area might be expected to give satisfactory performance dependent on minimum stud/cleat width in any direction.
  • All edges of the studs/cleats should be finished smooth and rounded to a radius of not less than 1mm.

Clearly this requirement is much vaguer – and at pitch-side is a judgement call.  I run my hands over the boots and see if feels sharper less/comfortable then a conventional stud (although by the time I have run my hands over a whole teams boots – they all feel pretty uncomfortable).

Some examples

Disclaimer – This list was compiled based on the images presented and is intended to be illustrative – it is not a definitive ‘approval’ of a particular boot type, or a recommendation or endorsement of any product.  In many cases studs can be replaced so an illegal boot could be made legal through stud replacements and visa-versa.

It is thankless duty of the ref. to interpret this (somewhat vague) guidance on the day. I also fully reserve my right to deem a boot at legal/illegal on the day based on the boot’s actual characteristics. You can also expect a degree of variance in interpretation between refs.

Conical studs

1. Legal (provided no sharp edges or burring).  These are the defacto standard – against which all others are measured. 2. Potentially illegal – the studs look like they might not be:

  • >= 10mm diameter at the end
  • Suitably rounded (the end is ‘flattened-off’)
3. Legal (provided they are 1cm at the end and do not have any sharp-edges or burring). Nothing requires the stud to be of a single material. 4. Potentially illegal – although the end is of sufficient diameter it looks to have a non-rounded edge at the tip.  The requirement for a conical stud is a radius of >= 1mm.

Blades studs..

These are far more subjective – and each referee is likely to base their judgement on the ‘feel’ of each individual boot. My advice would be to go with conical moulded studs or specifically search for boots marketed as rugby boots.

5.Legal (provided >=10mm diameter, no sharp edges or burring). 6. Probably Legal (& Sold by Lovel as Rugby boots) provided that there are no sharp edges and burring. 7.Hard to call – The cross-area of each  seems less than ‘standard’ and the design could have sharp angles. 8.Potentially illegal  – The cross-area of these seems less than ‘standard’ and the design has a possibility of sharp angles.

 

Looking ahead to another Vets season…

Last season the mighty TWRFC veterans continued to impress (themselves) by not only reaching the final of the Late Red (old farts) Cup again but also, and just as importantly, by turning out Saturday by Saturday to ensure the club gets four sides out. Yes; from the 4s to the 1s the mighty Vets are ever present at the senior level, willingly setting aside false teeth, sock garters and anusol tubes, to don the blue and white (or pink, silver and black on vets days) and bring glory to the club. That last season’s vets final was played by an army of crumbling men, most of whom had played the day before, spoke volumes. 

This year the aim is twofold. To finally lift that accursed cup and to avoid all and any fixtures to Thanet away. Oh and we also aim to keep the beer flowing….old school drinking sessions are in. Rob Harrison, by contrast, is out (of the closet).

For the uninitiated the vets is primarily a social side, comprised of men of varied ability, where all are welcome (except for Rigby!)

As captain I strive to give everyone some minutes on the pitch. Not always easy given the huge level of gorgeous talent available.

So if you are over 35, enjoy your rugby. drink beer (and can put up with shoddy banter on Whatsapp)…If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them… maybe you should join “the vets team” 

I love it when a plan comes together!

First game- a friendly at Cranbrook. Sunday September 9th. Dress Code ‘loud and proud’ followed by a party. Get in touch if you want to get involved.

Not my favourite system…

Membership renewal is once again coming round, which means once again we are all going to get to test our wits against the (awful) GMS user-interface.

Progress last year…

Last season we cutover the youth section (the vast majority of our members), and now have almost 1,300 active members according to GMS.

The process itself was not entirely painless for anybody signing up, and it certainly wasn’t painless for Michelle and I as we dealt with the many ‘features’ of GMS.  In fact only about half of people trying to sign-up for membership were able to complete the process without our help.

This season I am quietly hoping that it’s going to be MUCH easier:

  1. The vast majority of data issues have been resolved (I personally merged >150 duplicate records)
  2. Most parents should have their username & password, and for those who have forgotten hopefully they will have updated their email, so they can reset their own password.
  3. Senior players are more likely than parents to know their username/password and have better data quality.

Even so, it’s a lot of work – so why would we do this?

There’s a few reasons for us choosing to move our membership onto GMS…

  1. At this point we have separate processes for tracking senior players, youth section and vice-president memberships. Some of our process are also manual which can introduce errors, and goCardless is a payments platform not a membership system. This makes pulling together an accurate list of all paid-up members time-consuming.
  2. In either case, we are required (as part of our RFU accreditation) to keep some data with GMS current, it’s the system used for player registration, qualifications, etc.   Anything else we chose to use for membership would cause us to have to duplicate data that is held in GMS.
  3. Having a single source of the truth which is provided and maintained by the RFU takes a lot of the burden from TWRFC in remaining compliant with data privacy regulations and GDPR… There’s still much improvement required in GMS in this regard, but we can see the RFU are working on it.

Speaking of GDPR & Data-Privacy, what are you doing about that…

We’ve released our privacy statement

The youth exec are planning to move all Youth TWRFC communications to happen via mail-groups (probably on googlegroups).  This will give us a consistent approach, which automatically hides the email addresses of our members, and also includes an opt-out link on each email.  A side benefit of this is that the club will (for the first time) have an easy way of communicating to it’s youth parents.

Martin

A new website…

I don’t have much to write as I am really testing out the blogging functionality, hopefully this post will in the fullness of time be replaced with something that is a little more content-rich and interesting.