High Wycombe RUFC Annual Chairman’s Report for 2020/21 Season
I started last years Chairmans Report stating we faced many uncertainties as we start the 20/21 season, however I don’t think anyone foresaw the extreme restrictions we would find ourselves in - basically being forced to close from the end of October until April this year with no meaningful rugby being played.
That should have spelt nothing less than disaster for us and our fellow clubs however with significant targeted help from the government and continued loyalty from our members, as well as the phenomenal hard work of all the committee and volunteers, we actually look forward to 21/22 in a healthy position and full of confidence.
I cannot express enough my thanks to you all during this incredibly diﬃcult time.
Obviously as far as the season review is concerned - there is very little to inform you of however some rugby was played, the bar did open and the club did function as best it could.
Around the Clubhouse you will see we have made several improvements, a new courtyard area outside and a dedicated covered smoking zone at the rear of the building. Inside new bespoke graphic wall vinyls are now on show in the main stairwell and main wall, the honours board has now been extended for our Women Captains and future Men’s Captains. We have now been granted planning permission for a first-floor steel balcony to be erected overlooking the re-oriented Pitch 3, we hope to be commissioning the work by the end of the season.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers, committee members, parents, Sarah Broad and her team of bar staﬀ and of course Rob Purtill in the kitchen
Jerome Bartlett continues to hold the purse strings as Treasurer, and Nigel Pullan continues as our Commercial Chairman. Commercially this year has been quiet for obvious reasons, however, we did manage to secure a new deal with Revere Homes for the sponsorship of our new kit for all senior teams for the next 3 years, we also thank all our existing sponsors for their continued support. In addition, the 200 Club continues to grow steadily and has generated enough to fund the facelift of the interior of the clubhouse which is now completed. More 200 Club members are always welcome. This coming year there will be a focus on social events as well as additional sponsorships as fund raising activities.
On the Pitches..
Clive Girling continues as our Director Rugby for 21/22, and continues to be extremely well supported by Mark Barry, George Davis, Richard Burrage, Mike Banton, Dan Dudley, Toni Flore, and Club Captain Mike Fradgley. We thank them for all their hard work in keeping our senior teams organised and creating the environment for them to be successful and to our Physio, Josh, for keeping our players in one piece.
Although the regular 2020 – 2021 season was completely lost to the global pandemic, we have worked hard to keep our players engaged during the long period we have been unable to play or train normally. We did manage to play a little rugby of sorts but it’s a massive sense of relief to have finally been given the go ahead by the RFU to return to ‘normal’ training and playing regulations from July 19th this year.
We were able to start pre-season training on 14 July 2020 under the ‘Covid Safe’ guidance provided by the RFU, at that point we had high hopes there would be a season of rugby and we had large numbers of players at training, averaging nearly 50 players per session over the 7 weeks of pre-season.
From mid-September, when we would normally have started the season, we were only able to play a touch rugby format called Ready4Rugby and so we set up a series of fixtures against all the local rivals; Marlow, A&C, Beaconsfield, Chesham and Aylesbury playing both home and away. Whilst it wasn’t proper rugby, the format kept the basic running, passing and positional skills in place and HW were undefeated, so I think we can credibly claim to be the Bucks R4R champions!
The 2020/21 season was oﬃcially cancelled in October and all rugby activity including training was cancelled as we went into another lockdown at the end of December to emerge some 3 months later at the end of March 2021 when training restarted.
We have been able to play 2 friendly fixtures since the return to training and once again HW came out the blocks strongly defeating both Aylesbury and Crawley. With both of these fixtures open to any and all players it was fantastic to see the emergence of our latest batch of new talent as our youngsters stepped up from junior to senior rugby.
I think it’s fair to say a frustrating season, many of the fixtures were cancelled and without a dedicated local Vets league, securing valid vets fixtures continues to be a challenge, however,I will continue to develop the section building new relationships with other clubs which will hopefully enable us all to enjoy our rugby as we slow down a little when our prime years have passed!
Fiona Czakan continues managing our girls at U13, U15 and U18.
A huge thank you to all of our players, parents, coaches and parent helpers, it’s been a very tricky time but everyone has stuck together and made something out of this season. Special thanks must go to Kayleigh, Heather and Sarah from the senior ladies and Mike Kirby; our Youth Chair for their huge eﬀorts and support.
Obviously, a very diﬀerent season, lots of fun and fitness training on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. A number of multi club get togethers. We hosted 95 girls across 4 clubs at HWRUFC for a joint fixture, the girls got the opportunity to play and enjoy their rugby wherever possible.
The U11s/U12s girls have been enjoying gradually transitioning into U13s girls. This is the first time that we have had a significant transition directly from Minis to Girls, this is clearly an indication of them having enjoyed their Mini's experience within the club and we look forward to watching their progress.
A number of the girls took part in the Summer Touch Tournament, 4 girls made their debut with the Green Dragons, Rohan and the lads looked after them and they've had a great time.
The recent summer training campaign has brought 7 new players and interest from 3/4 more for September, we are also in contact with a RFU coach who is working with WHS and Pipers Corner.
Finally, we wish all the U18 girls well as they hopefully transition to senior rugby, good luck girls!
Kayleigh continues heading up our Women's Rugby and after the successes of 19/20 the team were crushed to not be able to play the last game of the season to bolster the lead at the top of our table and take the league title.
Team morale was kept high throughout the lockdowns and attendance was strong whenever team training was permitted.
The Ready4rugby adapted game brought its own challenges however several fixtures with our neighbouring clubs were played which proved fun and successful.
We started our journey into the coming 21/22 season with our usual Barnes 7’s tournament and many of the girls took part in the Summer Touch tournament.
A huge thank you to all the coaches and volunteers that continue to work tirelessly to make our women’s section a great asset to the club both on and off the pitch.
Youth Section: I’m delighted to confirm Mike Kirby will continue as Youth Chairman, Mike and his team are having a significant positive impact making many improvements to all areas, we welcome back Bob Gregory as the club Safeguarding Oﬃcer as well as many parents accepting roles within the section - the future looks bright!
With our regular season “on-pitch” success usually being measured by competitive fixtures, and there being no rugby games under normal laws this season, the focus was switched to training sessions. Right throughout our club we have seen fantastic numbers at training, with members returning after each lockdown to the club in their droves, we’ve seen age groups recruit new and enthusiastic players who have been inspired to get out of the house and try something new.
As we look forward to the season, our focus will be to build on solid foundations, with key consideration toward volunteer recruitment and development in key positions, and external community engagement to drive rugby forward in the High Wycombe area. We expect to see lots of new players down at the club following a summer where rugby is on the main stage, both in South Africa with the Lions, and Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics in the sevens code, and our eﬀorts in local schools to bring rugby to those who would otherwise not be exposed to it.
I am excited to return to what I fully expect to be “rugby as we know it” in September, and I look forward to continuing our eﬀorts towards successful player transition throughout our age grade teams, and through to our senior men’s and women’s teams.
And finally from me, Natalie and all the committee; we look forward to seeing you all in person at the club as we return to normal getting back to what love - The game of Rugby!
Martin Good Chairman
High Wycombe RUFC