I wanted to write to you all and give you a full update on the situation at NDRFC with the current new one-month lockdown now in progress. The new Board hit the ground running and is doing a great job. Our mantra “One Club” has been reinvigorated from the days of President Jez Spicer’s chairmanship. This lies at the heart of every decision that we have taken. A key element of the future success of our club relies on the transition and retention of young players from our minis and youth setup into senior rugby. The appointment of Alec Newing as Director of Junior Rugby and Dave Stickland as our new Director of Senior Rugby, has been fundamental to implementing this strategy. The Board also took the very important decision to appoint a senior coach and to continue with this despite the difficulties of the pandemic. We are thrilled to have Taff Bamsey on Board, and he has fitted in brilliantly.
Our tactics have obviously had to be modified to take account of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I wanted to let members know of the actions the Board has taken to address the situation.
Firstly, the financial implications. Right from the beginning of the pandemic the club, despite valiant efforts through the summer, has lost very significant revenue from our bar and social events, notably the loss of the summer’s sevens tournament.
We were fortunate to be in a strong cash position prior to the start of the pandemic, and for this, we thank the out-going treasurer. In addition, in June the club received a significant hospitality and leisure grant from the Government. We were also pleased to receive grants from both Gillingham and Shaftesbury Town Councils.
The Board agreed a strategy of supporting rugby activities wherever possible by keeping the clubhouse open on training nights and for rugby centred activities. This has obviously meant that we have incurred significant costs, including keeping the bar open and a massively increased emphasis on the cleaning regime for the clubhouse. In addition, Covid 19 PPE equipment and protocols have further increased our costs. Cash outflow from the club is therefore up on last year and being carefully managed. The Board felt that providing the best possible, welcoming environment for players of all ages across the entire club should be our primary focus during this period.
With the situation now entering its 8th month and the horizon for a return to full rugby still unclear, we have taken the opportunity to obtain a government-backed loan. This money is not required immediately but, if the situation does not improve, we have prepared the club to be able to survive till next season.
In light of the lack of senior rugby we have the taken the decision that senior subscriptions will be reduced to £65 for this season. This takes account of the match fee element of the subscription when no matches are being played. It is important to note that subscriptions as they currently stand do not cover the running costs of the rugby club. They never have. The club has always relied on the revenue generated by match day activities and social events.
We are continuing to support our existing partners and have therefore agreed to with catering partners to forgo their fee to take account of the reduced activity.
We are pleased that in the short term we could continue the work on the Shed to ensure that the building is made watertight and useable. We must thank Tim Rose and David Marsh for all their hard work on finding cost savings within this project. The significant costs for the main doors are still an obstacle to complete the project and this will depend upon on the length of time the situation continues.
I must take this opportunity to thank the work of the Board and particularly the workload of Alec and Sticky. Their achievement in this season given the circumstance have been incredible. A new structure has been implemented and I am pleased to say that we are already seeing some results. Communication and Integration across the club have improved. The workload and restrictions that Covid 19 have imposed on the organisation of the playing side have been significant.
A new touch rugby tournament has been introduced on Friday nights with the aim of providing a competitive outlet for rugby within the current restrictions. The senior competition encompasses colts right through to vets across both the men‘s and women’s sections. A Junior game was also organised and proved to be hugely successful. A big thank you to all involved in getting this organised. This tournament was intended run fortnightly up until at least Christmas but will have to pause during the current lockdown. For more details, please see the website, and we would love to see you when the tournament resumes, hopefully in December for a socially distanced drink to support this event.
As you will be aware, the club has experienced a couple of cases of COVID-19 within the club. A Covid Committed meets weekly under the chairmanship of the Director of Safeguarding to review the effectiveness of our Covid 19 response. As part of the review process, we have taken the opportunity to update all our Covid 19 policies and protocols. These are issued regularly to all relevant parties, and we invited all coaches and team managers to the club to reemphasise the importance of rigorous implementation but also as a thank you for all of their efforts and support so far.
We do need your help, though. Whether this be supporting taking on a role within the new streamlined structure or by simply frequenting the bar throughout the coming months. Although there is no live rugby to watch on a Saturday afternoon, we do still have the televised games on TV through December and would love to see you during this period. Obviously, our traditional Christmas fixture of Presidents vs Chairmans 15’s is uncertain this year, but we will be having an event, the format is still being worked on, so await further details. A word for our clubhouse manager, Jeanette, who is doing an admirable job of running the place in a Covid compliant manner. For any information on forthcoming events, please see the website as your first port of call. This is now being kept up to date by our New Director of Communication, Jonathan Hooper. I hope you will all have appreciated the improved level of communication this season.
As a final note, I wanted to say how proud I am of everything we continue to achieve at the club. This season has been a turning point of many reasons but firmly believe that like a phoenix from the ashes, we will rise for this period stronger than ever before.