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President's Awards case studies

Below are some examples of category winners from previous President’s XV Awards.

1. Player recruitment: Grasshoppers RFC

Grasshoppers RFC have more than fulfilled the requirements of their category in that they are in the process of creating an entire league of teams rather than a single entity. Moreover, their efforts have benefited a group of people who are new to the game.

Their initiative stems from coaching in two special needs schools in Hounslow and working with the RFU's community coaches to host a school festival, which includes special needs schools from neighbouring boroughs.

While working with these schools and organisations, Grasshoppers identified that there are a number of older players with learning difficulties who would like to play the game and in their drive to bring the sport to a wider audience, they have organised a league for Over 16 players with mild learning difficulties.

Ruislip RFC and Twickenham RFC were early participants and Saracens Amateurs make up the quartet that will not only introduce players to the sport, but also to the camaraderie that comes from being part of a team and a club.

2. Player retention: Sheffield RUFC  

Sheffield RUFC has a thriving playing membership with upwards of 360 Minis and Juniors and more than 35 Women and 75 Seniors, represented by 17 teams. At 17/18, the club identified that the integration from Colts to Seniors results in many players leaving (a known issue in sport generally in the UK ). There is now a Player Retention/Integration Plan at the club (with help from the local RFU Rugby Development Officer) to facilitate better player retention.

The first step was to understand why so many leave, and then try to address these reasons as follows:

  • Now have a Fixed Colts Coach/Manager
  • Colts train with the senior squad on Tuesdays as part of the skill sessions, and warm up together at Thursday training
  • Club policy is: “if a player is U19 and eligible to play for the colts, then that should be the default team they play for”
  • Moving in to the senior club is seen as a step up, and a new chapter. A presentation night (a club tie as they need to wear it on a Saturday) is held as they leave the U17s and move up in to the Seniors, and all Seniors are present to welcome them
  • 1:1 mentoring. A Senior Player is allocated to a Colt, to help integrate them
  • Imperative that we retain players that go to university for 3/4 years. To do this we need to instil a sense of belonging, and keep them interested in SRUFC. Keep a record of those players and keep contact with them. Invite them back at holiday times for fun initiatives/games, as well approach them asking if they want a game
  • Set up  a number of activities to try and recruit from the universities, during the trials and by liaising with the coaches at Hallam/Sheffield to get them to point people who aren’t going to make it, or can’t train on Wednesdays
  • We’re looking at the option of having 3/4 games during the year as U21s/22s
  • Now Colts are part of the weekly selection meeting. Attendees – Chair of Selection Committee, 1st Team Director, Director Of Rugby, 1st, 2nd, 3rd , Colts/U19 coaches, team captains

3. People power: Eastern Counties RFU

In the last 12 months the Eastern Counties RU (ECRU) Volunteer Committee has been set up and consists of a ECRU Volunteer Coordinator and three sub-county volunteer coordinators. The impact this small group of volunteers has had on raising the profile of volunteers and volunteering has been remarkable.

Their strategy has been simple – provide the clubs with the tools and training they need and provide a recognition system that rewards excellence and is easy to access.

They also formed a Volunteer Recognition Group with the objectives of supporting the delivery of the RFU President's XV Awards from a local level, introducing a local level ECRU President’s Awards system and providing advice, support and guidance to individuals with nominations for awards at all levels throughout the year.

The ECRU volunteer committee have worked hard throughout the year in preparation for this year’s awards. Early communication and regular reminders to clubs across the ECRU has kept volunteer recognition high on clubs' agendas. In the CB annual action plan they set themselves a target to increase the nominations from 22 last year to 30 this year. They have greatly exceeded that target with nominations moving towards 40.

4. Club management: Castle Cary RFC

Skydiving from 15,000 feet and walking the Three Peaks are just a couple of the projects that Castle Cary RFC have put together to raise enough funds to build new changing rooms and showers, and extend their social facilities.

Thanks to a hefty contribution of £136,000 from waste management firm Viridor, they have raised £196,000, with the balance of £60,000 being delivered by club members in a variety of ways.

These include raffles, book sales, auctions, eight members skydiving, race nights, quiz nights and in June last year, the Three Peaks challenge for 24 members.

5. Better facilities: Buckingham RUFC

Buckingham RUFC have been on a self-help mission for almost 30 years, continuously improving facilities since buying their 11-acre ground in 1982. Gradual improvements followed on all fronts as numbers grew, the most recent development coming last year in the shape of a new £175,000 changing room block.

Now the club has its sights on a £40,000 kitchen and cellar expansion and a full set of training lights on a rented field. The effort in expanding and improving facilities has seen the club grow both in numbers, particularly youth and ladies. In 1982 the club had a mere handful of mini rugby children, four senior men's sides, and no vision of a ladies side.

The increase in quality and quantity of pitches has been driven by the growth in playing numbers, which now stands at around 500 youth players, a very strong ladies section and three men’s sides and an occasional Vets team.

6. Community engagement: Aspatria RUFC

Aspatria RUFC is a central focal point to both a town of 2,800 inhabitants and a number of surrounding villages. Their facilities are used by various local organisations, with user groups including Blood donors (NHS), Eat Healthy club, Young Farmers, Horticulture and Cage Bird clubs, while minimal charges are made for private functions like christenings, birthdays and anniversary celebrations.

For the last three years Aspatria have opened their doors to people with learning difficulties as part of the Government strategy to integrate disadvantaged people back into the community.

The club has also reached out very successfully to the farming community, an initiative that has swelled the playing ranks, while the formation of a cricket team promises new contacts – and the distinction of hosting the first floodlit cricket match in Cumbria.