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

Academy & Senior Club Awards 2020

The Club has held it’s Academy and Senior Awards over the past two successive Fridays, to formally draw the 2019/20 season to a close. With the Covid-19 lock-down curtailing the season back in March we have all had to get used to changes in the way we live our life and the onset of a “new normal”. 


One of the ‘positive’ developments which has ensued has been the way we have started to use evolving technology to maintain a semblance of business as usual and, hence, the awards were held over Zoom, with over 30 attendees at the Academy event on 15th May. We then had approaching 80 players, coaches, officials and supporters wearing Black Tie in the Zoom room last Friday (22nd), plus many others following the evening on Facebook. The generations were spanned with the likes of John Evans at one end of the spectrum and young Ollie Rigby learning the tricks of the trade from his father, Club Chairman Mike Rigby, at the other.


Academy Awards

After overcoming some initial difficulties, the Academy squad went on to attain a 100% record. Played 7 won 7, scoring 219 points and conceding just 34. Sadly, their two biggest matches were cancelled with TJs withdrawing from their scheduled match on “strength” grounds (and not because they

 were too strong..wink wink!) and then Coronavirus claiming the much anticipated Kent Plate Final against Canterbury. The lads should be very proud of their campaign, though, and the future of the club looks rosy. 


The individual award winners were:-


Most Improved Player: Alex Thomas

Top Try Scorer: Connor Bourne

“Did I really say that?”: Will Hawksfield

Coaches’ Forward Player: Jamie Phillips

Coaches’ Back Player: Sam Dupuy

Players’ Player: Markus Lagnovics

Academy Player and Clubman: Innes Woodhouse.


The players would like to thank an ‘army’ of people who supported and helped them: Andy Child (Team Manager), Jim Scully (Head Coach), Max Douch (Backs Coach), Tui Tauaika & Agy Eukaliti (Forwards Coaches), Lucas Scully, Drew Raine (Communications), Sean Maywood (Teamer Manager), Tash Gale (Physio) and Duncan Keys (Pitches). In addition Monday night training sessions would not have been the same without Alex “Fat Pants” Nicholson, Laurence Taylor, Paul Miles, Ollie Allman, Richard Sparks, Martin Slattery, Tiggy Bartley and James Gwinnett. 


Senior Awards

The irrepressible Tim McCabe was our compere for the evening, with Mac GD acting as Floor (Zoom) Manager and Director…..


We first raised a glass to absent friends to mark those who have passed away over the last 12 months – John Exall was a President 1973-86 and 1st team Captain 1950-52. He was a Life Vice President and had dedicated his life to the Club; David Barnard who died earlier this month after a short illness was a club VP. He was 1st team Captain in the 1958-59 season and lived in Sheffield. He and his wife always tried to attend the Spa lunch at the end of the season Gordon Thornby was a fixture in the Club in the 50s and 60s and will have been known to many people. Bob Wykes was the Junior Co-ordinator in the early 90s and contributed to the ongoing success of the Junior section. He died earlier this month at the age of 87. And, of course, we lost Steve “Angry” Anderson who has been at the heartbeat of the club for so many years. A true “club” man. Gone but not forgotten.


We were then joined by the first of a number of “guests” who offered light relief and support via a series of pre-recorded messages. World Cup Final referee Nigel Owens recalled his attendance at the 2014 awards and he was later followed by Andy Goode (2015 guest of honour), Rob & Alex Lozowski, Jason Leonard and Martin Corry.


Chairman Mike Rigby then welcomed the assembled throng before providing an update on the season just gone – both on and off the pitch. He highlighted our excellent 6th place in the league, the two drawn ‘derby’ games against Sevenoaks when the teams “could literally not be separated” and the progress made on the 3G pitch and club plans. His stand-out performance though was the Academy and their undefeated season.


Youth Clubman of the Year

Junior Chairman Laurence Taylor expressed his pride in a youth section that has over 600 playing members, despite an incredibly tough season which saw 5 months of weather disruptions before Covid-19 halted all playing….and just as the weather was perking up too! That over 20% of these players are in the Under 6s is a powerful testament to the continued attractiveness of rugby as a sport.


Laurence then announced Simon Hughes as the winner of this award. Not only is he the club’s Commercial Director at the forefront of the 3G pitch and new “Youth Shirt” projects, but he remains an “inspirational Head Coach of the Under 9s”.


Academy Player of the Year (Seniors)

Academy Backs Coach Max Douch announced this award which recognises the Academy player to make the biggest impression in his first season transitioning into senior Saturday rugby. The award went to a player who made his senior debut on his 17th birthday, playing alongside his very proud father, and scoring a try to boot! Harry Child is a very “exciting player to watch with ball in hand…..and is the future of the club”. He also continued to be a key part of the Academy squad.


Young Player of the Year

Mike Rigby announced this award and it went to Jake Smith. The flanker has made rapid progress in recent seasons, graduating from the Academy via impressive performances in the 2nd XV to make his First XV debut a few months ago. A highly-talented athlete and fierce competitor he will surely become a mainstay of the elite squad in the years to come. 


Anthony Clarke Memorial Award

Roger Clarke, club Life Vice-President and RFU Council Member for Kent, announced this annual award in memory of his son Anthony. It is awarded to a player who has made the full transition from mini rugby right through the club to the seniors so is, quite rightly, held as one of the evening’s most prestigious accolades.


This year’s winner is Harvey Colangelo. Not only has Harvey played in all the age groups through mini and juniors but he has also completed the “full house” of Academy, Fourth, Third and Second XV appearances ahead of making his First XV debut in the 2019/20 season. He has an “excellent attitude and temperament” and his strong performances in the 1st XV level bode well for a successful career ahead of him at this level.


Vets Player of the Year

Sadly, skipper Father Ed Tomlinson had very little on-pitch rugby to reflect on – played one won one – so instead this year’s award was made for “off” field activities.

Club members (and victims further afield!) will have to be living in a cave with no WI-FI to have not had the ‘joy’ of watching the Vets “Lockdown” videos and little embodies the spirit of #oneTWRFC more than these terrific efforts. Consequently, the creative geniuses behind the videos Tom “Tommo” Callaway and Tom Beynon are richly deserved joint winners.


Third XV Player of the Year

Andy Cunningham presented a season that saw some heavy “mis-matched” defeats but overall produced a record of played 12, won 6, lost 6. He was quite rightly proud of the fact that unlike many teams at this level in the county, Wells did not forfeit any games and also gave 53 players a run out during the campaign. This year’s winner is Nick Baldock, a true clubman who “encompasses the spirit of the 3s” and “played every position from prop to taking conversions to serving behind the bar!”.


Second XV Player of the Year

Head Coach Mav Anderson reflected on a tough campaign that saw just 4 wins from 14 matches played and a remarkable 68 players used……better player availability leading to greater continuity of selection has to be a goal for next season. Mav was, though, delighted that seven 2nd XV players made the step up to earn their first caps at 1s level and also commended the spirit of his squad and the attitude of players who dropped down to the 2s at various stages.


The likes of Connor Davis, Jack Palmer, Angus Horne and Jamie Piggins should be proud of their contributions but this season’s winner was a stand-out in the shape of Lucas Scully. Having made his First XV debut in the 2018/19 season he spent the bulk of this season in the 2nds where his ability to play so many positions was a god-send. Indeed, this might have counted against him when it came to possible elevation to the First XV but he “stayed focused on delivering for TWRFC and committed to training hard and learning”. His time in the 1s will surely come again before too long.


First XV Awards

Head Coach Simon Whatling was able to report on another successful campaign and a 6th placed league finish. That this was achieved playing a brand of attacking and open rugby that has come to be seen as the “Tunbridge Wells way” should not be under-estimated.


1st XV Most Improved Player

This was awarded to flanker James Pancaldi. James arrived just a few weeks into the season but quickly established himself as a regular in the back row and 1st XV match day squad. He has a “great attitude, commitment and level of intensity…..the lad that never steps back!”.


1st XV Top Try Scorer

Given the nature of Wells’ attacking back play this season it was unsurprising that this award would come down to a straight shoot-out between two prolific try-scoring backs. Max Hobbs has exhibited superb form all season and has quickly become a fan favourite but his tally of 12 tries left him just one short of another player who would sit firmly in the camp of one of the most popular players that the club has seen in recent times. Mike Doherty‘s 13 tries secured an un-paralleled third successive top try-scorer award. Mike trains harder than ever to maintain the fitness levels that makes him one of the most consistent performers in the squad and enables him to be “always in the right position to receive the ball to break the line”.


1st XV Players Player of the Year

In what was undoubtedly one of the most popular wins of the night, Stuart Nicholls picked us this prestigious award as voted by his fellow players. Stu is a “clubman through and through” and off the pitch he organises the Socials for the Seniors. However, this should by no means detract that this true team player is now firmly ensconced as one of the first names down on the First XV team sheet. He “delivers for the squad week in week out with body on the line performances”.


1st XV Player of the Season

Si Whatling drew the playing awards to a close with the announcement that in the face of strong competition from Nicholls and skipper Ryan Taylor-Dennehy, the Player of the Season would be Frank Reynolds. The outside half continues to demonstrate his ” excellent knowledge of the game” and “is a consistent performer week in week out”. Whatling continued “Frank is a game changer who keeps the scoreboard ticking over and is a leader amongst a very capable squad of players”. There can be little higher an accolade than that.


Clubman of the Year

Mike Rigby made the final award of the evening. Despite strong competition from Stuart Montgomery, Michelle Greenall and Drew Raine, this year’s award went to the highly-deserving Nick Van Overstraeten.

Nick has taken on responsibility for club facilities and has delivered multiple improvement projects including the Internal Sound system, the External PA, a re-vamped gym/physio/changing rooms and, of course, the new club cafe. As well as always being a keen volunteer to assist with BBQs and socials, he has kept the club “legal” and has been “omnipresent around the club making sure it runs smoothly”.


The Chairman then thanked all involved in producing our Zoom awards before closing the evening with with a rallying call that once we are able to resume rugby again, the the Club “will move on stronger, with greater ambition and with a huge desire to progress”. Hear, Hear!


Graham Withers

2019/20 Players Player of the Year – Stuart Nicholls
2019/20 Academy Players Player of the Year – Markus Lagnovics
2019/20 1st XV Player of the Season – Frank Reynolds

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

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)