Veterans award 2008/09
Winner: Bournville RFC (North Midlands RFU)
Dave Boehmer, who nominated Bournville RFC, said: “We started our Hippo's Veterans side in October 2007 to play monthly games against like minded opposition. The side was called Hippo's on the basis that most of the side are 'fat, slow and ugly' and enjoyed playing in mud! I can say that - I am a proud Hippo! It also says this in Latin on the Hippo shirt with a Hippo, ball in hand, on the back.
The side was established by two former players who also coach sides in our Junior Section. They got together a group of former players and a number of interested Dads from the Junior section. The team now have over 40 players who play every month and we have fielded two Vets sides on two occasions such has been the demand!
The squad is for players aged 35 to 60, and all varieties of shapes and sizes. We also have to provide our own referees so have attracted others back to the game in new capacities. The side has helped integrate the new Dads into the club and allowed us to get to know them better and quicker.
The side doesn't win many games but has brought many old players back to the Club and a resurgence in commitment. The additional side also helps support club membership funds. This is particularly important as the club approaches our Centenary season in 2009/10 and are working on plans for the development of a clubhouse.
Bournville have secured promotion for the last two seasons and have attracted some former Moseley RFC players via our Club Coach. It is great to have a mixture of new players and Old Boys at club functions, annual dinners and Tours. The Hippos help to maintain our social traditions and a few old songs that would otherwise be lost! It has helped us retain club identity.
The Hippos side has only been running for two seasons but is strongly becoming a key feature of the club. The side has not only kept players involved in the club longer but encouraged them to get more involved with the Junior sections - although I am not sure encouraging the Juniors to grow up to be Hippos should happen too quickly. They have time not to be fat, slow and ugly just yet!”
Runner up: Bridgnorth RFC (North Midlands RFU)
Doug McGill, who nominated Bridgnorth RFC, said: “I am nominating the "Vets" from Bridgnorth RFC because of the way they encourage new young players to get a "blooding" with the older players and prepare them for a future in the game by taking them on "Vets Tours" to other countries in Europe, giving them experience and comradeship with all national players.
We bring the players up from the U18s teams and introduce them to Senior rugby. We get them to bond with the older players, learn the fundamentals of playing with an older generation and hopefully learn how to act on and off the field. We try to teach them how to get on with the opposition (and our own team) and make friends with players in opposition teams, hopefully for a lifetime in the sport. We hope that it helps them to mature into well rounded adults (not like the Vets who are more rounded than others!)
When we go on tour we teach the youngsters how to behave on foreign soils, let them see how the game is sometimes played from a different aspect and that they should try to help people who are learning the game abroad to understand the way we play. We teach them that they are ambassadors for our team, and more importantly, our country and the sport of rugby.
On our tours, we have played in France, Wales, Ireland, Guernsey, Portugal and Italy. In Italy we were the first English team to have played there, a fact we were pretty proud of. This was in Pescara, who we have now played twice. This year we are going to Portugal again where they are arranging a game against Porto Old Greens as well as Guiamares; a team who have only been formed for two years.
We are also entering a team in next years European Golden Oldies and hope our youngsters will be coming with us to do a bit more bonding”.
Runner Up: Weymouth RFC (Dorset & Wiltshire RFU)
Weymouth RFC reformed their Veterans team in September 2008 after the club received enquiries from various sources including Mini & Youth parents. Everyone that enquired about joining the Vets team wanted to continue to play rugby as and when they could, without the pressure and commitment of league rugby. Numbers gradually increased and some Vet players started to play for the 2nd XV when they were short of numbers. By the end of the 2008/09 season, Weymouth Vets had played six fixtures and only lost one, had grown in numbers from three at the outset to 25 plus and rolling substitutes meant that everybody that turned up to play got on the park.
During the summer months, numbers continued to grow and players expressed interest in playing from all levels in the local community. At the club’s AGM, Veteran recruits were elected as Fixture Secretary & Club Solicitor. One Veteran recruit is now playing for the 1st XV and is one of the club’s senior coaching team.
This season numbers have continued to grow and the latest recruit was found whilst he was repairing the club’s boiler. The Vets Team Manager is constantly asked by the younger players if they can become Honorary Vets as they see them having such a good time and team sprit is high.
All games had been played under the Vet’s code of “Fun and Fraternity for all”. Every club should endeavour to keep older players involved and Vets is a good way of achieving this as most older players happily volunteer to undertake club positions/roles.