Tunbridge Wells RFC launches community led development plans

Tunbridge Wells RFC (TWRFC) has submitted a planning application for the construction of a new ‘3G’ artificial grass pitch to be constructed alongside the existing first XV pitch. The application also encompasses an expansion in parking at the club, a relocation of a cricket square and a new storage building.

TWRFC has a thriving youth and woman’s section alongside its successful senior section. Squad numbers are expanding each year with its under six level intakes doubling inside 5 years. The club is also reaching out into the community to support primary schools and schools with special educational needs, to progress and promote access to active sport for all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

Proposed 3G Pitch (Minifie Architects)

The proposed development is a continuation on the club’s focus on improving playing facilities following on from a six-figure investment in the drainage at the club over the summer. TWRFC hopes these plans, once delivered, will accelerate ambitions for a new sporting hub at St. Marks

Mike Rigby, Club Chairman commented ‘This is a hugely exciting moment for the club. The proposed development will transform the facilities at St Marks allowing the club to move forwards but also giving opportunities to local schools, clubs and other community groups to be able to benefit from the facilities. The club is committed to improving facilities and being at the heart of the community, this application represents our ambition’

TWRFC Ambassadors (l-r) David Strettle (England), Tammy Samuels (England), Martin Corry (England & Lions) and Ben Kayser (France) support the launch

To support the application an event was held at the club to formally launch the plans to TWRFC supporters and to start the fund-raising efforts. “The event was designed to let members and supporters know more about the development plans” said Steve Daly, Head of the Development Committee. “We had a great turn out including some of our club ambassadors and former Rugby Internationals Martin Corry (England & Lions), David Strettle (England), Ben Kayser (France) and Tammy Samuels (England). The event was the first of a number that will be held in the coming months and we were pleased with the level of interest. Should a person or business that is focussed on corporate social responsibility, be interested in our project, we are open for partnerships. Please contact us”.

Chaz Spence Joins TEK Group

The connection between key club sponsors TEK Group grew even stronger with the announcement that former 1XV Captain and current club coach, Chaz Spence, has joined the sales team at TEK.

“It’s great to have Chaz onboard” said Charlie Harding, BDM TEK Group. “We’ve known Chaz since his playing days at the club and his professional experience combined with the drive and commitment he’s shown at TWRFC makes him the perfect fit for TEK.”

“It’s great to part of the team at TEK” said Chaz, “2021 has been a big year TEK recently celebrating their 50th anniversary and I am really looking forward to helping the team drive the business forward towards achieving the next 50”

For more information on TEK Group products and services please go to www.tekseating.co.uk or www.sitstmart.co.uk

21/22 Membership

The exec have set the membership fees for the 21/22 season at:

Senior Player£80
Family with single child£160
Family with multiple children (or senior player plus one child)£200
Social Member or VP£80
Concessions/Students£50
Senior Player match fee£10

These can be viewed in full, with notes and more details on the membership page (along with the links to sign-up for direct debit schemes for a vice-president or social member, any existing DDs just roll-over into 21/22)

Playing membership will be administered using Spond if you aren’t yet registered please join spond. For members already registered on Spond, you will receive a payment request in early July. Payment isn’t required until before the first session of next season, Sunday September 5th (or after 2-session trial for new joiners); but summer cash-flow is ever an issue so early payment is definitely appreciated.

With the exception of the two items called out below fees remained unchanged from the previous seasons. We felt this was the right thing to do; we are really proud of all that TWRFC delivered in adversity, but we also appreciate how much our members stood with us in what was a tough year. We have evaluated our costs against those of other local sports clubs, and feel this is a fair level that is still fantastic value for money, and will enable us to continue to invest in the improvement of the club for our members.

  1. We are now asking families with multiple playing children to pay slightly higher membership than those with only the one child. The exec have long felt that our current ‘one-size-fits-all’ youth membership structure has been slightly unfair to those with just the one child.
  2. We are simplifying the approach to match-fees as a straight £10/match-fee (in effect removing the notion of a cap). I will be monitoring the impact of this, and if it gets silly will look into it again. The rational for the change, comes out of sympathy for our poor team captains who would have to administer anything more complex, in the changing room, potentially wearing nothing but a towel.

Chairman’s Update: 3G – Alternative Grass Pitch

In my last update I mentioned that the club was planning for the future, looking at how we continue to develop and grow as a club. A key part of those plans includes looking at delivering a 3G Alternative Grass Pitch (AGP). Even with all the work done on improved drainage this year there is still demand for all year round playing space at St Marks now and in the future.

Whilst the club will benefit from access to an AGP we are keen that this development is part of us becoming a community sports hub. To that end we have been working closely with local schools, sports clubs and the council, as part of their sports field strategy, to develop  plans and supporting business case.

Given the intended location for the AGP is alongside our current 1XV pitch we are working very closely with TW Borderers Cricket Club on plans – which include the creation of a new cricket square on the land to the south of the 3rd XV pitch and the construction of a cricket pavilion adjacent to the current Sussex square. This will ensure no loss of playing space for the cricket club.

We are well progressed on pulling together all of the technical reports required for submission of a full planning application over the next few weeks. In addition to the AGP, the planning application will also include installation of hard standing in front of the clubhouse, new storage for equipment, cricket pavilion, new cricket wicket and extending and improving our onsite parking.

As part of the preparations for planning, the club held a Public Consultation evening for residents in the neighbourhood to talk them through the plans and take on their feedback ahead of making our application.

The full suite of plans will shortly be available to all members to view in the café. We would warmly welcome you to take time to have a look next time you’re in the café.

Whilst a lot of work has gone into getting the AGP project to this stage, we recognise that planning is just the first stage. Once we have planning, we then need to start fundraising for the actual build – we have some interesting plans in development and are looking at what grants we could apply to for funding. But, we will still need help from all our members to support fundraising, so please keep an eye out for more news on that front.

The fundraising stage of the AGP project will also need a lot more support to deliver so if you are interested in helping please contact Steve Daly in the first instance on 07825 286 813.

If you have any questions about the proposed plan please send them to secretary@twrfc.com and we will come back to you.

#oneTWRFC

Proposed Plan
Proposed paving improvements and equipment store
Proposed equipment store – front elevation
Proposed improvements to existing parking
Proposed extended parking
Proposed Cricket Pavilion

Chairman’s Update

Members and friends of TWRFC,

As we have recently seen a return to rugby and sport at St Marks I thought it timely to provide an update on the club. 

Pleasing as it is to see the latest lockdown conclude and rugby resume, there is no doubt that the pandemic has touched every single one of us. Many of you have personally caught the virus, most know someone who has been significantly impacted by the virus and all of us will have felt some negative impact. Unfortunately some club members and friends of the club have paid the ultimate sacrifice and our condolences are with all their families.

 Whilst we have had little actual rugby to enjoy this year, the Board has remained focused on the Club with perhaps a greater focus on the future of the club. Our thoughts have turned to our ambitions for the club over the next 10 years and what we would like the club to look and feel like in our centenary year (2031). Whilst 10 years seems like an age away, this is the horizon we look to when we assess our broader development plans. Also, as we know time flies when you are having fun, it was only 10 years ago that I made my vets debut……..or maybe slightly longer. 

So, let me take you on a quick trip through the club and give you an update:
The Senior Section: 

We have three very divergent parts of our Senior club: The Elite squad; The Social side; and of course the Vets. But this year they have been united in playing no fixtures! There is of course a clear divergence in one matter: Training. The Elite squad have trained hard and benefitted from our fantastic coaching team…..The Vets have not trained for rugby at all but have made several videos that have entertained tremendously through lockdown. The social sides are in a happy place in the middle.

The Elite squad has recently resumed training and in fact recently enjoyed a friendly game of touch with TJ’s. They will shortly break for the summer before returning early for pre-season training. We have a couple of pre-season friendlies lined up and are very optimistic of a full season of competitive rugby. Most will now be aware that we have been joined at training by Ben Kayser who has given a real added dimension to forwards training. I also recently advised that Simon has departed to pursue new opportunities, Stuart and Dave are busy establishing our new structure for the new season. We have also started the drive to build a squad for next season and please do spread the word of our club, its ambition and culture. Thanks to all our senior coaches and players. We can’t wait to see you back in action next year.

It’s good to be back – Elite Squad training

The Youth section:

This year has been extremely different for our youth section. No fixtures, no festivals, large periods of no physical training and lots of online activities organised to help our members through lockdown. In case you have not heard, as he has told just about everyone he has met, Tommo has successfully managed to take our Under 6 age group (years reception and one) to 150 members. This is just outstanding and demonstrates the strong local demand for getting kids active. It also shows the tremendous role we provide to our community. We now have over 730 youth members and it has been great to see so many of them back at St Marks recently.

The reason for the success of our youth section is very clear: The incredible volunteer coaches that support every single age group. These ladies and men get qualified, plan sessions, complete endless admin, prepare kit, turn up bright faced and deliver an exceptional experience for our members week in week out. Thank you.

Thank you one and all you are keeping the future of TWRFC very much alive and growing. Thanks to Laurence, Martin and Alex for Chairing the Youth and the Mini’s.

Just a few of our 150 U6 players!

The Academy: 

Following the return to play the Academy also returned raring to go but with a minimum period before we could taken on opposition in competitive games we had a lot to do to get ourselves ready.

But with the hope of games before we close down again for the summer numbers and energy at training has been fantastic. Linking up with the U15’s, who will be formally coming into the Academy set up next September, we have had some really productive sessions.

It is so encouraging to see how keen the boys are to be back and play this great sport. We are still building but clearly the fundamental foundations from which we build are stronger than ever.

Huge thanks to our first team players who are helping out and doing a brilliant job, Max Douch and Matt Spicer. Big thanks to Andy and all the academy coaches.

The Ladies section: 

Despite the lockdown the U11’s, U13’s and U15’s have all grown with new players keen to enjoy social sport. This has made the Wednesday and Sunday sessions busy and a lot of fun. The noise is tremendous to hear across St Marks.

The Over 18’s (Adults!) with new members are growing and this is all before our inner warrior session on the 9th May. The squad are enjoying getting back to sport, improving the fitness and core skills. They are also enjoying playing the new RFU adapted touch game.

As the end of season beckons the ladies section also has the Rachel Buford camp to look forward to on the 31st May. Should be a fun end to the season.

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.

Ladies O18 Squad showing their Inner Warriors

So lastly to the running of the club and the area we have spent time on during lock down.

The Commercial team

I would like to thank all our sponsors for their unwavering support this year. Every single one of them continued their support for our great Community club. They have helped us keep going, engage with our members and continue to invest in the fabric of the club. We also have doubled our efforts to give as much social media coverage for their support as possible. I hope to welcome them back up to the club soon to personally thank them.

We are under no illusion the ability to get new sponsors next year will be harder and hence if you are able to help support Simon Hughes and Andre Van Zijl it would be most welcomed.

The Operations: 

Membership: Has been a huge success this year as we transitioned to SPOND. No doubt this has helped us perform track and trace as well as tracking membership fees. A record year for membership collection. Thank you for your support of your club. 

Covid-19 Policies: Who would have thought we would celebrate our ability to react to the relevant Government and RFU CV-19 guidelines. But we have trained at every opportunity because we have adjusted our approach to stay safe. Thanks to all involved in keeping us legal/safe and training. 

Pitches: Well this is the first year we haven’t cancelled training for the weather!! Mainly because we haven’t been up the club in Dec/Jan/Feb. We have invested though and they are looking good.

Clubhouse: The cafe trades on (for takeaways) and the decking is a great place to carry your produce over. Hopefully these will both come into their own over the summer.

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 with brand new drainage systems going into pitches two and three. We are also progressing our thoughts for an alternative grass pitch and will provide a further update within the next two months. The latter has a thirst for volunteers and so please do let myself or Steve Daly know if you can spare a few moments to help us plan for 2031. 

So in summary:

–          Not the year any of us wanted, but we have kept on performing our valuable role in our community.

–          We have a growing youth and ladies section

–          We have a successful academy

–          We are ever closer to our #oneTWRFC ambition

–          The number of volunteers are growing but we do need more!

–          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



HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

TWRFC join the country in mourning the loss of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A tireless member of the Royal Family but also a loving Husband, Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather.

Best known to many as the founder of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, a scheme that has helped millions grow and develop skills over the years including many of our own members.

Rest in Peace

TEK Group Hits Major Milestone

2021 sees 1XV sponsor TEK Group hit a major milestone of 50 years in operation. Known to many of our members for their ergonomic office chair brand Sit Smart. Through their TEK Seating and TEK military brands they also offer solutions for commercial, bus and coach, construction, agriculture, material handling, military, rail, minibus and marine markets.

TEK Group remains a local, family run business but has grown to become the UK’s largest independent vehicle seat distributor for the OEM and aftermarket.

 “TEK Group is really proud to hit this significant milestone” said Paul Fleming, CEO TEK Group. “ It’s down to the hard work and loyalty of past and present team members. Being part of the community we work in is very important to all of us at TEK Group and our involvement with TWRFC is just part of our commitment to community engagement.”

“TEK Group have been a 1XV sponsor for over fiveyears” said Simon Hughes, Head of TWRFC Commercial “Paul and the team at TEK have been fantastic advocates of the club and continued to support us through these challenging times. We are delighted to see them hit their 50 year anniversary and we wish them all the best for the next 50.”

For more information on TEK Groups products and services:

t: 01892 515028,

e: sales@tekseating.co.uk

https://www.tekseating.co.uk/

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