Goals for the Season:
The 1st XV targeted a playoff position in BT National League 1
Further progression of junior players from their feeder Club (Jed Thistle) into their senior teams
Their Season So Far:
It’s been a fascinating season for E4R Club Partner Jed Forest RFC. After a dodgy start to the season, in which they lost four out of their first five fixtures, Jed managed to get back on the right track and have since experienced a great string of results! The middle part of their season was brilliant with 9 wins on the bounce.
They’re currently sitting fourth in the league. The top side gains automatic promotion, whilst 2nd place enters a playoff fixture with the 2nd bottom side from the league above.
They’re a few points adrift of Marr RFC who are in 2nd and achieving their initial goal of reaching the playoff is unlikely – yet they remain defiant and will push all the way to the end!
They had a Scottish cup home tie against BT Premiership side Heriot’s RFC on Saturday 20th February and they only lost by a point.
A good cup run is always great for a club, however as long-standing Jed Forest committee member, Jim Thompson, told E4R;
‘The league is much more important for grassroots clubs – the better league position of a club, the larger the crowds that come through the gate and the easier it is to attract and retain players.’
Although the unions may see the Cup as a great way to endorse their sponsors and get people down to Murrayfield, the clubs much prefer and place lot more importance on the leagues.
As Jim described, at Jed Forest it’s all about producing and developing players for the future. So far it’s been a successful season in that aspect with one or two of their young guys making their debuts in the first team.
Jed Forest’s unofficial feeder team is the local Club, Jed Thistle RFC. Thistle are their own separate entity and Jim see’s this as a real positive for a number of reasons:
‘They have their own separate committee that’s dedicated to youth rugby and so there are no conflicts of interests with the senior teams. What’s more they have different playing grounds and sponsors so there are two ways of generating income rather than a shared resource. If the teams merged I’m sure you would see a drop off in volunteers and in financial support.’
In order for the Thistle lads to be eligible to play for Jed Forest, they must pass a series of S&C tests to prove they have the physical capabilities to play amongst the seniors – we see this as extremely sensible!
Jed’s D.O. works with a number of schools along with Jed Thistle through the Club’s academy in order to recruit, encourage and develop players to enjoy playing rugby!
The Club has around 60 players registered on their books for this season with training numbers consistently at 32 and above.
The Club only have 2 XV’s at the moment:
The 1stXV are enjoying a successful season within National League 1 whilst the 2ndXV act as a backup squad as well as competing within their own league. Jim told us that it’s only on the very rare occasion that they fail to field a 2nd team, either due to players being called up into the firsts or work or family commitments.
Jed Forest used to have 5 fully functioning and effective teams and Jim told us that he would love to see the Club thrive like it once did.
There’s no real social interaction outside of the club during the week due to the Clubhouse and pitches being on the town’s periphery. The Players’ are provided with a post-training meal on Thursday’s but on the whole the Clubhouse is quiet during the week.
The Lanton Carpet Bowlers use their facilities twice a week and every New Year’s Day, The Clubhouse plays host to a large bowling tournament that entices teams from all over the UK.
The Club also host some key events throughout the calendar year:
They host an annual Ladies Day lunch that usually see’s about 100 women dine at the Club
They also hold a Former Players Day on the nearest Saturday to Remembrance Sunday, in order to celebrate those who played for the club both before and after the war.
The Club also host a pensioner’s day at the start of the season where they offer pensioners a free lunch in the Clubhouse, which is a great service to the community.
Former Captains and President day that celebrates the Club’s legacy, history and supports its future.
Jed Forest’s Riverside ground also play host to the summer music festival, Riverside Rock, which attracts bands and crowds from all over the country!
As Jim mentioned, ‘It’s a fantastic day that see’s around 10 bands play live sets, as well as there being a fairground for kids – it’s a real community day that promotes the rugby club!’
Jim believes that the game’s grassroots have suffered ever since rugby went professional.
As he told us, '20 years ago Jed had 5 teams, Heriot’s had 9, Selkirk and Kelso had 4…now the numbers are a lot less and the concept of social rugby is diminished.’
Many players played rugby lost their appetite for the game when teams were reduced in size and social activity – they may now have taken up alternative spots and hobbies and so there children are likely to follow in their footsteps. In the last 20 years rugby has lost playing numbers.
Jim also believes that youth academies and highly positioned Clubs recruit young players too early and often, if they don’t make it, the process disheartens them and they lose interest in playing sport.