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More Volunteers award 2008/09

Winner: Penzance & Newlyn RFC (Cornwall RFU)

Over the preceding five years, Pirates Youth Rugby membership had almost doubled from around 100 to nearer 200. The volunteer support base had largely remained the same, both in number and personnel. Consequently, it was under-resourced and had no obvious succession plan.

The Pirates Youth Rugby Committee decided to hold an Open Evening to showcase the resources that were already available, to show parents of younger age groups what was required and to undertake a recruitment drive, especially amongst the U7 to U11 age groups that would form the committee for the next five years.

The Pirates have a fantastic relationship with their local newspaper, the Cornishman. It was decided to run a series of press releases about a month before the Open Evening. The key to the press releases was to feature a volunteer from each of the key areas of coaching, refereeing, team management and committee membership. Each volunteer would describe their motivations for volunteering and their individual experiences and rewards. Weekly updates were also featured in the Youth Rugby newsletter and on the forum.

In addition, the local RFU Rugby Development Officer was asked to attend and bring along resource information, especially regarding relevant courses. The event was timed to coincide with the major training sessions for the younger age groups on a Friday evening.

A major feature was the inclusion in the Cornishman, on the day before the Open Evening itself, of a photograph taken the previous week showing the 300 or so members of the Pirates from U7 right up to the prestigious first team, the Cornish Pirates.

At the Open Evening itself, presentations were made by the Club President, Cornwall RDO Mike Bratt and one of the coaches. During the evening, around six serious expressions of interest resulted, with several more coming over the next couple of weeks. A follow up meeting was held for these potential new volunteers in the closed season.

The 2008/09 season started well, with a full committee achieved for the first time in many seasons with some new posts created to spread the load including Vice Chairman, Social Secretary, Grants Co-ordinator and Volunteer Co-ordinator.

Significant increase in helper support was achieved, particularly in the U7 to U10 age groups, from around 20 to almost 40. Significantly, individuals have taken on specific roles so there is improved effectiveness and motivation. Several younger members also assist with providing refreshments on match days!

Runner Up: Huntingdon Stags RFC (East Midlands RFU)

John Doonan, who nominated Huntingdon Stags, said: “Last season we as a main club Committee sought to broaden our volunteer base, through a campaign: "Your Club Needs You - Volunteer for an Age group".

Before this campaign we had around fifteen volunteers doing everything. We now have per age group, from U6 to U14, a Lead Coach, three assistant Coaches, a Social Secretary, a Press Officer, Team Manager, Good Practice manager, First Aid coordinator and Child Welfare Officer. The roles are all filled by parents - both fathers and mothers, with CRB checks where required.

At the main Club committee level, we also created five sub committees which led to an overall volunteer base of 58 across the club. The upside of this campaign has been new ideas, new enthusiasm and a 15% increase in Mini & Junior registrations. This summer we will relocate to a ground where we will further capitalise on this firm base with our own pitches and clubhouse. Based on the campaign, we are now seeking Seal of Approval status.

A further upside of the campaign has been the more proactive participation of our social members in events such as the annual summer ball, race night, Sportsman’s Dinner etc. It has been successful all round by reducing the burden on the main committee and getting volunteers organised for each age group, thereby improving the rugby on a Sunday morning for all the kids and parents involved”.

Runner Up: Skipton RFC (Yorkshire RFU)

With a new Chairman and a few new faces on the Committee, this season Skipton RFC have used all their personal contacts and motivation to get more volunteers involved in the club. They developed a plan, identifying certain supporters and ex-players who should be approached, and started the persuasion process.

This has resulted in appointing three new team managers (all ex-players) to do all the team admin, where previously it was the captain and coach doing the work. This has resulted in a substantial increase in player memberships and match fees being paid and collected.

The club now also have three committee volunteers collecting entrance money on the gate (they used to have one and missed many supporters). As a result, the club’s gate money receipts have shown a considerable increase, year on year, much needed in these difficult economic times. One new committee member has now taken responsibility for booking all transport for away games, relieving the coaches of that job.

Skipton RFC now has four senior coaches, with another three planned for the Colts next year, whereas two years ago there were only two coaches. This has resulted in senior midweek training showing far better attendances, from around 15-20 last year, they are now regularly getting over 30, and in recent weeks over 40, players training. This has been reflected by an improvement in the club’s playing performance.

This season the club have five senior players who each have responsibility for training and coaching one of the mini or junior teams; they used to only have two of these player/coaches. They have also persuaded another four senior first team players to help in the junior coaching, new this year. This should ensure a continuity of rugby coaching throughout the club, and gradually improve the level of senior rugby.

The club have also approached several junior parents to help, and this year have gained a junior team manager and another member for the junior committee, who has already brought in one additional junior team sponsorship.


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