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NatWest RugbyForce in full swing around London & South East

14 June 2013

  • Ten clubs in London region received maximum £4,000
  • Jobs include decorating, gardening and pitch improvements

Rugby clubs around London & South East region are gearing up for a weekend of fun and hard work as they join the NatWest RugbyForce.

A joint initiative between NatWest and the RFU, NatWest RugbyForce, saw 410 grassroots clubs sign up to take part in this year’s programme, with 175 awarded grants to make major renovations - 35 clubs including 10 around London & South East received £4000 and 140 received £500.

Now in its fifth year, NatWest RugbyForce aims to help over half the grassroots clubs in England over the next five years. The programme provides clubs with free online resources and access to workshops where clubs are assisted with planning their NatWest RugbyForce Weekend event. New for 2013, clubs will be able to access business workshops to ensure they capitalise on the renovations made over the NatWest RugbyForce Weekend.

Among the London & South East recipients of a £4000 award, Shoreham Rugby Club in Sussex is running a family fun day at their Buckingham Park home, with attractions for all ages including traditional fairground games, a bouncy castle, face painting and tombola, food and drink stalls, a barbecue and tuck shop.

Shoreham chairman Mark Norris said: “With more than 130 adult and child members of Shoreham Rugby Club, and with more than 20 other clubs visiting the park across the season, it is essential that we have high-quality facilities.

“The current changing rooms are in desperate need of revamping and these funds will make a huge difference to the hundreds who pass through the park every season.

“The NatWest RugbyForce grant gives us a fantastic opportunity to improve the space at the park and the fun day will provide additional funds to ensure the club is in perfect condition ready for the start of the new season and can provide our teams, and our visitors, a warm welcome across the winter.”

Crawley RFC plan to redecorate the hall and stairs to the main clubhouse, have a general tidy-up and garden and finish work on a balcony.

Volunteers are welcome along, to paint, rub down, garden, clean or even just make the tea, starting at 10.30am on Saturday morning.

Canvey Island in Essex have two packed days of works going on and many volunteers attending, while Chineham RFC, based at May's Bounty in Basingstoke, put out a call to local plumbers, electricians, joiners, decorators and builders to join with their volunteer labour force of players, friends and families transforming the changing rooms and shower facilities.

Verulamians RFC in St Albans have a range of DIY jobs available so that everyone can get involved, the club will be providing refreshments throughout the day and in common with many others they will be showing the Argentina v England match at 8pm on Saturday evening.

Another of those is Watton RFC in Norfolk, where they anticipate watching the England match will be a welcome break midway through a hard weekend’s work.

“We do not have our own clubhouse, we are based at Watton Sports Centre, and we do not currently have any identity or club room,” explains Louisa Bayley from the club.

“The grant will support us in making improvements to changing rooms that will benefit a wider section of the community as a range of sports teams use these facilities.

“Additionally, we will be creating a clubroom within the sports centre to give us a sense of identity, show the history of the club and its past achievements, and provide a space for the club to use after matches and training and for special events.”

At Footscray RUFC in Kent, the projects include relocating the second team pitch and spreading 100 tons of fibre-sand and topsoil onto the main playing areas.

“It’s a major task,” admits Footscray chairman Barry Lewis. “But as one of only 35 clubs in the country to achieve the full NatWest RugbyForce award of £4,000 we aim to use the funds to help take our playing facilities to the next level.

“Having just won promotion to the Shepherd Neame Kent 1 Division, our highest ever level, and formalised our links with the Greenwich University rugby sector, we are very optimistic about the future.”

Staines RFC in Middlesex are concentrating their efforts on refurbishing a lounge bar known as the ‘Partner Bar’ in memory of a long-serving member Aubrey Partner, who joined the club in 1931 and became its president and was also President of Middlesex Rugby from 1976 to 1979.

Battersea Ironsides in Wandsworth, south London, have an “all hands day” on Sunday June 16, inviting all-comers to help redecorate the changing rooms, shower area and clubhouse exterior, with a barbecue and free drinks laid on, and jobs including painting walls, windows and fence panels, gardening, tidying and hedge-cutting.

And Weybridge Vandals RFC, uniquely situated on a River Thames island in Surrey, are giving a major boost to women’s rugby in the area by converting part of their changing facilities into a segregated area so that female players and match officials are able to shower and change on site.

Fabrizio Maffi, Weybridge Vandals RFC’s Mini and Junior Chair, sums up the feelings of all the clubs involved in NatWest RugbyForce: "Through the support of this scheme and we are able to make a significant improvement to our facilities.

“The NatWest RugbyForce weekend also brings together the different sections of our club. It is all part of our plan to be ready to capitalise on the likely surge in interest in rugby when the Rugby World Cup comes to England in 2015.”