President’s update

The challenges presented by the Coronavirus restrictions are certainly the biggest faced by us in my over 50 year association with the Club. In fact one would probably have to go back to the Second World War when the Club closed for 6 years, to find anything equivalent. We bounced back from that and I have every confidence that we will come through the current difficulties stronger and with a renewed relish for our Game.

I am encouraged to see that training has restarted at all levels with the young in particular getting some much needed physical exercise after being in lockdown for so long. It’s also about getting out to meet old friends again because Rugby is very much a game  where lasting friendships are forged; I still have friends in the Club I played rugby with at School. It will be that spirit and a shared purpose that will see the Club through these difficult times and on to a brighter future.

Club spirit is in the right place and the Board is very active in managing the current situation and putting plans in place for the future. I am confident that all will work out well.

On a domestic note I have appointed 5 new Vice Presidents in a deserved recognition of their services to the Club over many years. Tim Collins, Bruce Elliott, Martin Slattery, Brian Whiting and Matt Wilkey will be joining the VP ranks from the beginning of the season, and I look forward to the return of normality when I will be able to welcome them properly.
So, stay confident about the future and please take every opportunity to involve yourself in Club activities even if it’s only coming up for a social beer on the new decking.

Alan Skinner
Club President

Chairman’s update

Dear Members and Friends of TWRFC,

I hope you are well, healthy and safe. We have all had a fairly challenging past few months which has tested all of us in many new ways. It was certainly nice to see the minis and youth age groups back at St Mark’s as the restrictions eased. It is equally good to see the senior and Ladies sections back training this month too. I think we have all enjoyed a small step back to normality.

We are very busy and excited about the return to rugby at the beginning of September. We have been busy preparing the club to be compliant with both the Government and RFU guidelines to ensure we have a safe return. If you have been to a shop or restaurant recently you will all be familiar with the look and feel at the club: Lots of hand sanitisers, lots of one way signs etc. But we are ready and can’t wait to get back.

Over the summer it has been great to see St Mark’s being used by our community. In addition to most of our Mini and Youth age  groups training we have welcomed: Rugby Tots; The Mead School, ??? Puppy training, First Class Football a running club and of course our friends at Borderers Cricket club to St Marks. Of course this is in addition to the endless runners, dog walkers, fitness enthusiasts and walkers. In fact this week we have the ground let out to the Kiwi Experience sports camp with lots of kids having a great time. So in short it has been thriving and vibrant as well as of huge value to our Community.

We have also been busy investing. Early on in the summer we had some volunteers strimming and chopping to keep our perimeter tidy. We have seen some fantastic art work go up on the ground floor to make the Club a little brighter (kindly paid for by Countryside Homes). We have also expanded the decking in front of the clubhouse to make a nice place to eat or drink your delights from the Café. We have also seen investment into the pitches, with lots of slitting, sanding, seeding and hole filling. Trying to ensure we have the pitches as prepared as we can for the new season.

We have also progressed our investment and expansion plans. More news will follow on this soon but we are making progress.

As for the club more operationally. We have budgeted for this year, we have sensitised the budget for this year and we have scenario planned for this year. We are financially strong enough to trade through all such scenarios but will be launching our annual membership renewal soon to help us.

As I ended last night’s Board meeting I said:

  • We have a mini/youth section that is growing in numbers (600+) and is offering an ever improving experience
  • We have an academy that ended last year with strength and depth as well as qualifying for a Kent cup final.
  • We have a ladies section that is going from strength to strength with over a 100 members as well as growing senior members
  • We have a senior section that had a really strong finish last season, has a great team spirit. They have carried good numbers into pre-season training with some new faces. The Vets and social members are very welcome but I suspect will appear a little later!
  • We are financially safe and operationally compliant

We are in good shape and I thanked the Board and all our volunteers for putting the club in this position.

We do however have lots to work on still:

  • We strive to diversify our revenues further and particularly over the summer
  • We want to continue the progress on delivering an all-weather pitch as well as better grass pitches.
  • We want to deepen our value to the Community and ensure more people enjoy the beauty of St Marks
  • We want to broaden our Commercial partners to allow even more investment into the facilities we all enjoy
  • We want to attract more social members to play rugby, socialise and enjoy our club

If you can help us achieve any of the above then please do let me or any member of the Board know.

I look forward to welcoming you back up the club soon and hopefully to enjoy some competitive rugby (when we are allowed!)

COYW

Mike
#oneTWRFC

Six Nations Lockdown Challenge – Launch

We started wanting to do the Home Nations – 877 miles but with all the miles pledged we are going to all of the Six Nations stadia 2451 miles.

As players, from U6 to Vets, and parents embark on their virtual journey across six countries we need to convert those miles to donations for Hospice in the Weald – donations can be made at our Just Giving page,

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/twrfchomenationschallenge

For Hospice in the Weald, like many other charities, the lockdown has meant that vital sources of funding have stopped with shops closed and fundraising events cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Hospice in the Weald has been further impacted by increased demand to support patients but also to do so under strict Covid-19 controls requiring PPE. Like all Hospices, Hospice in the Weald is not part of the NHS and although they do get a small amount of funding from the government the vast majority of the running costs are funded from charitable donations.

With the impact of increased demand, increased costs and reduced donations the club are embarking on this challenge to help Hospice in the Weald as they work on the front line of the pandemic giving patients a dignified death and supporting their wider families.

#oneTWRFC

#lockdownchallenge

Home Nations Lockdown Challenge

As we move towards the sixth week of lockdown, TWRFC wanted to something as a club to support a local charity close to many hearts, Hospice in the Weald. Like many other charities, the lockdown has meant that vital sources of funding have stopped with shops closed and fundraising events cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Hospice in the Weald is also dealing with increased demand to support patients but also to do so under strict Covid-19 controls requiring PPE. Like all Hospices, Hospice in the Weald is not part of the NHS and although they do get a small amount of funding from the government the vast majority of the running costs are funded from charitable donations.

With the impact of increased demand, increased costs and reduced donations the club wanted to help Hospice in the Weald as they work on the front line of the pandemic giving patients a dignified death and supporting their wider families.

To do this we are throwing down the “Home Nations Lockdown Challenge”. The aim is to walk, run or cycle the equivalent of driving from our St Marks Clubhouse to “virtually” visit all four home nations stadiums – that’s 877 miles.

Volunteers will be asked to start their miles from Friday 8th May and encourage friends and family to sponsor them via our Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/twrfchomenationschallenge

To help the competition along we will be tracking the number of miles each age group/squad do – so sign up and see if you can get your team to the top of the league. Please don’t forget that if you are covering your miles outside, to only do so with members of your own household within the recommended time within lockdown restrictions.

Anyone who wants to volunteer should send the following details to Drew Raine at drewraine@hotmail.com:

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Age Group/Squad
  4. Mode: Walk, Run or Cycle
  5. Target miles you are setting yourself (this will help us see how close to the 877 target we are getting)

Sign up now and get ready for Friday 8th May

#oneTWRFC

Chairman’s update

Members and friends of TWRFC,

I thought it timely to provide an update on the club and the progress made this year. It’s a long update because we are a big and active club!

However, let me start by saying the world is presently gripped in a fight against Covid-19 which has had a significant impact on everyone’s lives. It puts many aspects of our lives into perspective and raises levels of appreciation for things we take for granted. We are truly in unprecedented times.

The Board have remained focused on the Club throughout the year, both its day to day operations and of course the longer-term future of the club. Below is a detailed update on all parts of the club before I look to the future:

The Youth section: Another very successful year for the Youth section with record membership numbers (621) and a great spirit across all the age groups. Some notable highlights: A very successful Mini’s festival held; Beamo (Under 6 Head Coach and present senior player) gets up and running with a huge 105 players in his U6’s age group;  First team player Ben Whale takes on Head Coach role of Under 14’s (#oneTWRFC), Despite the weather we KEPT training with new 3G locations sourced; Age groups keep the spirit alive in lockdown with remote sessions and fun videos.

To all the players: We are sorry the season ended prematurely but keep active, keep wearing the clubs colours with pride, we will be back before you know it!

The Thank-you’s are endless here, we have over 100 volunteers in this section (from coaches to DBS to Fixtures, parent helpers, to Refs etc etc). Thank-you one and all you are keeping the future of TWRFC very much alive and growing. Thanks to Laurence and Alex for Chairing the Youth and the Minis.

The Academy: As we started the season we had high hopes for the Academy and wanted to revamp it. It would be fair to say the revamp had a tricky start but ended on a real high.

Andy Child has taken on the lead role here and led the squad to stats of Played 7, WON 7 the last one taking them to a Kent Cup Final. It was also great to see Tui, Agy and Max Douch (First team players) playing such an active part in the training and supporting on match days (#oneTWRFC). Our DoR was also very active in supporting this success demonstrating his breadth of role. Well done to all the players, you are the future of the senior section and we look forward to seeing you at training soon.

Some good news for next year, we have a new sponsor for the Academy who is keen we invest further in this important transition into senior rugby.

Thank you to Andy and all the coaches, Jim, Tui and Agy.

The Ladies section: We are really keen to grow the ladies section and make sure TWRFC is the ‘Go-To’ club for ladies’ rugby. We have challenged Simon and the team to grow our Ladies membership and confirmed we are happy to invest to get that growth. So, to the successes: U18’s equalled last year’s national cup run and came 2nd in the County league; U15’s saw numbers grow and got on a good winning streak; U13’s won the county plate against stiff competition; U11 team created to expand the section; and membership numbers rise to 80.

Well done Simon and all the coaches. But also well done to all the players, you have a real sense of community and are the fastest growing section of the club.

The Senior Section: We have three very divergent parts of our Senior club: The Elite squad; The Social side; and of course the Vets.

The Elite squad has clearly had a good season, with a very honourable 6th position in the league. We were light upfront all season but Simon and Aston got the team working really well together and ground out some fantastic results. There was as-ever the odd game that slipped away from us but ‘The Wells’ way of playing was exhilarating to watch: Strong defence, well organised team structure and hugely exciting with ball in hand. Well done guys a fantastic effort and a pleasure to watch.

The second XV struggled this year for players, fixtures and results and is an area of focus for us. Also on that list of focus areas are player-retention and player-recruitment.

The Social side under the leadership of Andy Cunningham has operated well all season winning half their games. The number of players representing the 3rd XV was north of 50 which shows the depth of squad at this level. If everyone wanted to play every week we’d have a 4th XV back before you knew it!!

The Vets…….shall be remembered this year for their activities off the pitch! The lockdown videos have been amazing. Thank-you to Tommo and Tom for your hard work they have kept the spirit of the club alive in these hard times. Awesome.

Thanks to all those that pulled on the Blue and White shirts this year, thanks to Jim Scully and the coaching team, the Captains, the organisers, the helpers, the ref liaison/refs, the caterers, the bar staff etc etc and thank you to the one and only Lino. Thanks to Stu Montgomery for leading this area for the Board.

So lastly to the running of the club and the area I have focussed a lot of my time and effort upon to get us financially and structually on an even keel.

The Commercial team: All major sponsors are now contracted and most on multi-year agreements. They are regularly engaged with to ensure they feel part of our club. We have two new ‘tier 1’ sponsors for next year on multi-year contracts which help build our diversity of revenues. We are under no illusion that our ability to get new sponsors next year will be harder. Thanks to Simon Hughes, Steve Webb and Andre Van Zijl

The Events: After a hugely successful summer ball at the High Rocks we have lost our last two fundraising events to Covid-19. The Youth Ball is postponed to early October and the Player’s end of season dinner will now be delivered virtually. We also lost our VP’s lunch at the Spa. We did however have a hugely enjoyable ‘Brave the Shave’ event run by the Senior section with lots of monies raised for an incredibly worthy cause. Thanks to Sarah Raine, Fran, Michelle and many many others.

The Operations: As mentioned most sponsors are now contracted, all our 1st team players were contracted, our major supplies are actively managed with terms renegotiated, and we are doing some work to tidy up our Board structure. Martin Croker, Michelle Greenall and Tony Pawson have been immense here.

The Clubhouse: Alan and Kathy have kept the Bar well stocked, the match day lunches organised and the volunteers at hand, Martha has kept the Bacon cooking and Charmaine has kept the match teas consistently good. But Nick has overseen not only the maintenance of an ageing old clubhouse but also lots of small but important investment:

  • The new combined gym and physio room invested in and refreshed. Including new equipment.
  •  The interior sound system and external PA system has arrived (Thanks to Pete Gould for sponsoring)
  • The first XV changing room has been refreshed with shelving. The ground floor TWRFC street art arrives soon (Thanks to Countryside Properties).
  • The Café has arrived! A real improvement to the ground floor and to the feel of the Clubhouse.
  • Nick has recently had the ground floor completely painted and is working up some more decking outside the café.

Marketing/Press: An area awash with volunteers from Graham/Roger on match reports, to Drew/Michelle on marketing, Fran on programmes, Mac on videos, Michelle on instagram (so hip!), and Martin on the website. Not to mention Bruce’s brilliant photography each week.

The Future of the Club: You will all have seen our recent posts on how we wish to focus our attentions on future ground improvements. We have started to progress plans in this regard and will continue to keep you fully appraised as we reach key milestones.

Lastly and perhaps at this present time most importantly

The Finances:  Don has continued to keep us on the straight and narrow this year. We have added cashflow forecasts and forecasting tools to our armoury as we look to ensure we are financially tight and resilient to blips. Thank goodness we did and thank goodness we ended the year in a far stronger position financially than we started. We will provide a full update at our (Covid-19 delayed) AGM when we get to it but in the meantime I wanted to reassure all the members we are in a stable position. We ended the season with cash resources in the bank, with our reserved funds safely set aside, with no debt and with sufficient cash to see us through to next season despite the early finish. We have availed ourselves of all Covid-19 grants/support that is available to us but we have not taken any funds from the various debt facilities offered from either the RFU or elsewhere. We are financially resilient at present but our planning shows any persistent delay to the restart of the rugby season will have an early impact.

So in summary:

  • The Club is in good shape on the playing side
  • We have a growing youth and ladies section
  • We have a successful academy
  • We have a performing 1st XV
  • We have a socially active club
  • We are ever closer to our #oneTWRFC ambition
  • The number of volunteers are growing and making a difference
  • We are financially stable and operationally organised
  • We have direction and purpose for the future of St Marks.

Thank you to all our many volunteers and to everyone who keeps TWRFC at the heart of our Community.

COYW

Mike
Club Chairman
#oneTWRFC

TWRFC Families Step-up to Help Nourish Community Foodbank

TWRFC has a long standing partnership with Nourish Community Foodbank but with the “Lockdown” hitting our community hard members have stepped up to volunteer to support the team at Nourish.

“We were busy before the lockdown supporting over 7,000 people in crisis per year across the borough of Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge” said Operations Manager Dawn Stanford. “Since lockdown we have seen over a 100% increase in referrals and we have also been asked to be part of TWBC’s Frontline response team to COVID-19. At the same time as demand has increased, we have lost a lot of our usual food and monetary donation locations e.g. churches, schools and businesses plus we have had to work around many of our existing volunteers self-isolating due to age.”

Families from TWRFC have come forward to help weigh-in and sort donations, stack shelves, pack and deliver food parcels. Nourish are restricted to the number of volunteers that can be in the packing unit due to social distancing requirements. Volunteers have worked in household groups so they aren’t limited by social distancing and Nourish supplied gloves, aprons and sanitiser on site. Deliveries are managed by knocking on clients doors without the need for contact.

Here are just a couple of examples of TWRFC families supporting Nourish

The Weaver family have been out delivering food parcels:

“I’ve always had massive respect for Nourish Community Foodbank and the support it gives our community so when Dawn asked the parents of the U12s for drivers to help with deliveries, I was really pleased to be able to help out a couple of times a week” said Tam Weaver. “It is fantastic that Nourish were able to turn to the club for help to continue with their essential work during lockdown”

The Dexter family have also been out and about supporting deliveries:

Ele Dexter commented “We want to support our community in any way we can and volunteering for Nourish Community Foodbank seemed like a great way to do something good on a regular basis.”

The Raine family have been supporting weighing-in, sorting stock and deliveries:

“I was amazed how busy the team are, it’s easy to forget that even in an affluent area people are struggling and need support from organisations like Nourish” said Drew Raine “With lock down presenting even more challenges we wanted to help as much as we could and it’s great to see the wider TWRFC family supporting a community in need.”

For more information about the work of Nourish Community Foodbank and how you can donate or help, please go to:

www.nourishcommunityfoodbank.org.uk

or follow them on facebook @nourishcommunityfoodbank

Countryside Kent Sevens – Update

This weekend would have been the Countryside Kent Sevens at TWRFC but with the current lock-down in place the event was postponed.

“The Kent Sevens is a major event in the club calendar both for the teams that come from all over the county to play in the mens and ladies competitions, but also the families that come to enjoy the rugby and community spirit of the event” said Mike Rigby, Chairman of TWRFC. “Of course it’s a shame we’ve had to postpone the event but we are looking at options to stage an invitational competition early next season as we get guidance from the RFU and our colleagues at Kent RFU”

Simon Hughes, Head of Commercial said “We really want to thank our sponsors, in particular our headline sponsor Countryside Properties, for their on-going support in these unprecedented times. We are working closely with all our sponsors on re-organising the competition and look forward to a weekend of showing casing Kent rugby.”

Watch out for news of new event here and on the clubs social media:

Facebook: @twrfc

Instagram: @tunbridge_wells_rfc

Twitter: @tunwellsrfc

#oneTWRFC

Brave the Shave – Update

In what turned out to be the last social event of the season the club held a charity “Brave the Shave” event in March in aid of the Lewis Moody Foundation, a charity that supports people of all ages battling brain tumours. The event was organised after first team player, Chris Brown’s 19 month old son, William, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer in the form of a brain tumour.

“The Club wanted to come together to support Chris and his family” said Stuart Nicholls, a fellow first team player who helped organise the event. “Chris and his wife Faye asked for any funds raised to go to the Lewis Moody foundation, a charity run by the ex-England and Leicester Tiger player”

 25 brave souls took on the challenge to have their heads shaved – the team from Gallery Hair & Beauty, in Southborough, manned the clippers. Once all the heads were shaved, the evening continued with a quiz, raffle and some excellent food supplied by The Raj Pavillion.

The event was given an additional boost courtesy of Tonbridge Juddians. Earlier in the day TJs had run their own charity match that TWRFC players and supporters attended. When TJs heard about the Brave the Shave they held and extra collection that raised over £750 – a great example of how rugby is a real community sport.

Donations continued to come in after the event and we can now confirm the event raised over £2500 for the Foundation, with a donation also made to the family to help with William’s on-going care.

A huge thank you to the team that organised the event, those that attended and everyone that donated #oneTWRFC!

Jim steps down as director of rugby

Jim Scully has stepped down from the role of Director of Rugby at Tunbridge Wells RFC.

As a club we would like to take this opportunity to thank Jim for everything he’s done for the club. The 2019/20 season has been a challenging one, impacted by the British weather and COVID; despite this, and due in no small part to Jim’s efforts, the Wells continues to thrive both on and off the pitch. The first team finish 6th in the London & South East Premier league, having played 21, won 10 and drew 2. Youth membership has once again grown, and we now boast a youth membership of 621 children; and (after a rocky start) the Academy has has a particularly successful season, winning all 7 of their matches, with a number of players graduating to senior rugby. The academy Alumni now includes 3 internationals and a Sarries U 18’s player plus 3 other Kent U 18’s.

Jim will replaced in the interim by Stuart Montgomery who will be taking on the role of DoR on in addition to his existing role on the TWRFC board, I’d like to thank Stuart for stepping up, and am sure he will shortly be looking for volunteers as his gets to grips with his expanded role.  Simon Whatling extends his role and will continue as head-coach for 2020-2021 season, and, following this year’s success, Andy Child continues to manage the Academy.

Mike
TWRFC Chairman

Week 2 video challenge: World Rugby approves law trials to further injury prevention

Well done to those of you who participated in the various passing video challenges. I know a few are still to publish and I’ll add there here as they are shared…

This week – we’re setting a new challenge which should help get us all ready for the world-rugby global law trials, one of which is to be trialed in England next season. Specifically the permitted forward pass. For more details – read the World rugby announcement below. Teams will be allowed once pass per phase, provided the receiving player catches it in the 22 (some age grade variations apply).

In the video below, Martin provides a little guidance on how to do this – as well as setting the video challenge.

World Rugby approves law trials to further injury prevention

Injury-prevention focused law change has taken another significant step forward with World Rugby’s Executive Committee approving a package of law amendments for trial in London.

Following a comprehensive evaluation by the expert Law Review Group, the Committee approved six law trial proposals submitted by unions and developed at the ground-breaking player welfare and laws symposium in Marcoussis, Paris, in March. 

The package of trials will be rolled out as designated closed trials in competitions around the world and if successful, would be recommended for global trial within the next Rugby World Cup cycle, meaning Rugby World Cup 2023 could be the first global showpiece to feature law amendments fully aimed at reducing injury risk. Full announcement ,details of the law trials (including impact on Reg 15)