Chairman’s Update

Members and friends of TWRFC,

Welcome to 2022 and Happy New year to all.

Firstly, I hope you are well, healthy and happy. It is of course great to be back to normal rugby but I am very conscious that there are still some very challenging problems in our community.

However, as we are at the half way point in the season I wanted to give you a club wide update. It has been a very busy first four months across all aspects of the club with plenty of rugby played so let’s have a quick tour 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. One common feature across our club and many other clubs locally is a struggle for availability. The return to senior rugby is proving quite abrasive on the bodies of our seniors and we are seeing more soft tissue injuries and longer recovery periods. Hopefully this will diminish as our bodies re-acclimatise to contact.

The Vets have had one outing so far this season and two fixtures where the opposition have failed to raise a team, the latest being TJ’s. However, as you would imagine this has not held the Vets back. They have remained focussed on their training regime and are seen regularly at touch on a Tuesday and the bar on a Saturday. They have, as always also been actively supporting the social side in their fixtures.

Vets Pre-match Huddle

The Social side have also been out on the field of play and enjoying life back in Kent 5 rural league. They are presently mid-table having played 5, won 2. They have had nice wins against Old Gravesendians and Vigo. They did also record a win against Gravesend on Mute’s 40th birthday weekend, but as we fielded a squad of circa 30 we did have to offer them the walkover win!! Well played lads good to see you back and active.

The Elite squad is a having a tougher start to the season. We do of course have a completely new coaching set up and an evolving playing squad. As per my note earlier in the week we have recently made some changes to our coaching set up as we welcomed back Simon Jervis to the club as our Director of Rugby. He will continue to be well supported by Chaz Spence, Ben Kayser, David Strettle and Paddy Seymour. Stuart continues to lead all things senior rugby and I would like to thank him for all the hard work he has put in this year under tough conditions.

Elite Squad & Management Team

We have started see the fruits of some hard labour as the squad are playing some lovely rugby. It is particularly pleasing to see our pack looking strong and us winning scrum penalties at regular intervals. We are still lacking some squad strength and depth in key positions but are working hard to address these. I have to say I have really enjoyed watching the rugby this year and have huge admiration for our players who literally give their heart and soul for our club week in week out. Thank you.

Ben Kayser watching the IXV in action

The Youth section:

What a difference a year makes: This year we have had fixtures, festivals, training (in person) every single week. What’s more……the pitches have been in great condition and we have played every week!! We now have over 760 youth members and it has been great to see so many of them back at St Marks.

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. You will see from our social media we now publish every youth fixture and the result every weekend. We are keen for them to feel as special as any other team in this club. It also means I can see all the results and I have to say our U13’s are looking pretty unbeatable this season. Well played lads and good luck in the Kent Competition later this season.

The Academy: 

Andy has continued to keep his focus on the Academy in the first half of the season. As always this is the quieter half of the season as it overlaps with most of the local school rugby.

We are really keen to have a cracking second half of the season with some real focus on Strength and Conditioning as well as seeing our new DoR Jervo get heavily involved. We will also see Ben and Stretts get more involved as well as other local qualified coaches. Andy is really looking forward to having a great second half of the season.

As always a huge thanks to our first team players who are helping out and doing a brilliant job inspiring the next generation.

The Ladies section: 

It is great to see so many numbers across all our ladies age groups. Simon continues to steer the ship well with the addition of Kelsey helping out across the older age groups.

The U13’s are progressing well and are in the Kent waterfall competition. The U15’s are doing well in the league and are in the last 16 of the national cup. The U18’s are enjoying their rugby and rebuilding the squad back to previous years strengths. The over 18’s continues to grow as our mini-coaches, senior players partners and friends build towards pulling a side together.

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 Inner Warriors – Ladies Over 18’s

So lastly to the running of the club :

The Commercial team: 

I would like to thank all our sponsors for their unwavering support this year. Many of our sponsors have been with us for many years and they enable this great club to trade on year after year having the impact we do on so many young lives. We have also added several new sponsors this year like:

Tunbridge Wells Taxis 888 tunbridgewellstaxis.co.uk ;

Pringle Insurance pringleinsurance.co.uk ;

Prestige Plumbing prestigeplumbers.co.uk ;

Benchmark Brewery Benchmark Brewery | Craft Beer | Eridge | Tunbridge Wells ;

Willowstick willostix.co.uk | English Willo Cricket bats

Easistore Storage Tunbridge Wells – Self Storage Units for Hire Kent (easistore.co.uk).  

Your support is helping us so much, thank you.

We are under no illusion the ability to get new partners/sponsors is always hard but we are ambitious and determined. If you know anyone who would like to sponsor our club please do let Simon Hughes or Andre Van Zijl know.

Operations: 

Membership: Has been a huge success again this year. Martin has brought real discipline to this via Spond and its starting to make a real difference as well as being really useful to track attendance. A record year for membership numbers and of course membership fees. We presently have over 750 youth members and 136 senior players. In addition we have well over 100 VP and social members. All round a good bunch of members who enjoy being part of our very special Club. Thank you for your support of your local club. 

Pitches: Well this is the first year we haven’t cancelled training for the weather!! The money we have spent on draining pitches two and three has made a real difference and they are in great condition. Long may this last!! We are now doing some work on refreshing the drainage channel along the north side of the site to make the training paddock drainage move away from our site.

Clubhouse: The cafe trades well and continues to be a great addition to our food & beverage provision, But the highlight of the first half of this season has been the arrival of Julia as our new landlady. She of course arrives with her partner in crime (Nick) and we have all felt the impact of her arrival: New drink choices being trialled; Halloween themes; Christmas decorations; and most importantly a lovely warm welcome to everyone who arrives in. No surprise that as a result of all of this we are seeing increased turnover through the Clubhouse.

The Future of the Club: 

Steve Daly and his team continue to make good progress on the AGP, Parking, Storage facility and Cricket pavilion project. Our planning permission is in which reflects a huge milestone in this project. Special thanks goes to Rich Bains for his huge personal efforts for the club. The fundraising is under way and has made a good start but as you will imagine there is still lots to do!

If you wish to support this project them please:

  • Comment favourably on the planning permission – TWBC comments are now closed but there’s still time to comment on the planning application with Wealden:

https://planning.wealden.gov.uk

Reference: WD/2021/2544/MAJ

  • Help with our fundraising either through grant applications, community fundraising or personal contributions. Please get in contact with Steve Daly if you believe you can help.

Well done Steve and team, your efforts on behalf of the club are much appreciated. 

Our Ambassadors – David Strettle, Tammy Samuel, Martin Corry and Ben Kayser support support the launch of the AGP plan

Impact on our community:

We know that as a club we have always had a significant impact on our community through volunteering work and social impact work e.g. fundraising for local charities (like Nourish)  and supporting local events (like Dunorlan Fireworks). During the pandemic our volunteer coaches also had a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of our members through virtual sessions and social events. We also continue to be a site where you can see: rugby tots happening; where BMF perform weekly fitness sessions; schools tag festival occurs; schools rugby/cricket matches happen; county schools cross-country competition occurs; dog training classes happen; acting societies practice; county over 70’s cricket occurs; our community enjoy walking with their dogs (on a lead!); and of course occasionally the Air Ambulance lands. Hence our impact locally is significant but we now wish to strive to have more impact away from St Marks.

So this year we have made a conscious effort to build out our community coaching impact. We have always supported ad-hoc requests for our local schools with visits from our parent helpers but now we have looked to offer more structure and formalise this offering. The arrival of Jack and Kelsey has certainly helped this: We have already 125+ sessions in 8 local schools. This is amazing and reflects our biggest ever community impact.

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

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