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Technology award 2008/09

Winner: Kesteven RFC (Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire RFU)

Recognising the importance of the worldwide web, Kesteven RFC acknowledged the need for a new and improved website to attract more interest.  The club was eager to combine the separate and rather dated looking senior and junior websites, to an all in one functional website that would cater for all sections of the club.

With no funding available, a determined club member volunteered to take on the project of developing a new club website.  After getting to grips with some web and graphic design software, a new website was introduced in late 2007.

The website has since become a massive asset to the club and has grown, improved and evolved at a phenomenal rate, high above original expectation. The website has some excellent features such as a photo gallery that helps deliver the complete club image. The overall result is a top rate and professional looking website which has cost the club nothing, everything has been completed on a voluntary basis.

The website is also proving a benefit to the local Community.  At present it is supporting a large scale Charity event to raise money for children with cancer by acting as a web based focal point.  Furthermore; the original creator of the website now offers to design other websites in exchange for a donation to the club, continuing the raising of vital funds. Extra funds are now also being generated as a result of setting up a club web shop, which is a commission based initiative.

Statistics show that the website achieved over 40,000 hits in its first year alone, more than doubling the statistics of the old separate websites combined. The website now comes top of all important search engine ratings, so potential newcomers find Kesteven RFC straight away.

The website has helped increase overall club interest and continues to portray the professional image that the club promotes.  It is updated by club members daily. A new forum was set up to allow vital communication within the club’s community. This again has been of no cost to the club and is purely maintained by club members. The knowledge gained in setting up the club forum has enabled members to help other local clubs who expressed interest in setting up a forum of their own.

The Club produces a weekly e-newsletter that is sent out to a large scale mailing list. The newsletter incorporates all key fixtures and results along with important information and exclusive offers. The club has also benefited from setting up its own Facebook page linked directly from the main website to attract more members. Regular write ups are featured on local newspaper websites and the everythingrugby.com website. A feature video was filmed just after the summer to sell the club’s ‘enjoyment not elitism’ ethos and to inspire newcomers to join. This video has been hosted on the County website and is also directly linked from the club’s own website.

Runner Up: Bromsgrove RFC (North Midlands RFU)

Martin Lakeman, who nominated Bromsgrove RFC, says: “Making use of effective technology is essential in running an effective and efficient community rugby club in today’s current economic climate.
In order to keep pace with the times, at the start of the 2008 season, Bromsgrove Rugby Club invested in a new EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) Database.

This technology allows the club to have a single point of contact for all membership details and an inventory of all stock that the club purchases. It identifies what is sold, by whom, and to whom at any given time. Further, it identifies trends in terms of types of drinks and commodities and produces monthly analysis of spends, predications for the executive of the club, and provides the data to review on a monthly basis - providing both the club and the Executive with timely and accurate information whilst reassuring the membership that the club is being run effectively.

To encourage sustained investment in the club, the technology has been maximised to include a membership card scheme and cards have now been issued to all members. This allows for members to accrue credit on the cards to purchase drinks and commodities from the club by use of the card with the added incentive that any purchases will come with a 10% discount. In simple terms this encourages members to commit monies to the club in advance and gives the club a positive cash position.

To date the club has seen in excess of £50,000 invested through this initiative since September 2008. This scheme is part of the EPOS system and allows the club to analyse which products are most popular with members (as individuals) or any organised events. This allows the club to measure the effectiveness of any given promotion or event and more importantly to renegotiate any future purchasing to maximise profitability for the club.

The system also allows the bar manager to have an overview of the productivity of the bar staff thereby enabling effective flexible rostering and identifying training needs for less experienced staff. More importantly it allows the club, based on analysis, to effectively resource the bars across a broad range of events ensuring that the club secures best value in its staffing model. As the next stage of the development, all access and reporting will be available via web based technology allowing real time monitoring to occur remotely.

In addition to the above technological investment the club has invested and installed Broadband Wireless access for use by all members which in turn encourages the use of the facilities by the members and is part of the ethos of the club as being an important part of the community.  In addition, the club has the full Sky package thereby the membership and their families the opportunity to watch Internationals and share in the rugby experience. The club has also invested in multimedia equipment which is being used in a variety of ways; an example being the Internet Safety Initiative as part of the club’s commitment to Safeguarding.

Runner Up: Old Rishworthian RUFC (Yorkshire RFU)

The Old Rishworthian website is highly comprehensive, updated on a daily basis and forms the main source of information and communication to the club coaches, players, parents and members.

All the senior, junior and mini teams have their own pages with fixtures, results, match reports, statistics and photos. There is a fixtures/results page which provides a fast link to any league or cup fixture/result on RugbyFirst.

The mini/junior section has a comprehensive welcome section which is a good source of new players joining the minis and juniors. Many parents looking for a club in the area for their child to join have found the site through the Google search and the pages with the welcome and joining information has often been a factor in choosing the club.

The club also host a junior fixture pool for junior clubs in Yorkshire and neighbouring counties seeking fixtures and have received numerous complimentary messages about this service. This allows many junior clubs without fixtures to place a fixture request and nearly always manage to arrange games thus enabling as many teams as possible to turn out in Yorkshire.

There is a comprehensive link to all clubs in the North of England and parents who are new to the club use our ‘directions to other clubs’ facility which provides an address, telephone, postcode (for sat-navs), how to get there, and a link to Google Maps to show either a map of the area or visual satellite photo of the club they are due to play.

The club have a password secured database with Seal of Approval and parent/player, non player contact details. This allows them to mass e-mail certain categories (e.g. U10s, all minis, U16s, all seniors etc.) This was invaluable during the poor winter as the club could inform parents/players if games were off via email in addition to publishing the details on the website.  

The hiring of the clubhouse facilities, like most clubs, is one of their main sources of income. There is a webpage to describe the facilities and a bookings page which allows people to see which dates the clubhouse is booked. The website has been developed in-house by a voluntary club member who had taken early retirement through ill health.

 

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