Engagement with the local community is imperative for the success of many grassroots rugby clubs, whether it’s ensuring that there’s a crowd watching on the side lines or generating vital revenue through local sponsors.
Unsurprisingly, there are many situations where a rugby club is the beating heart of a town’s community, and the mood in the local pub or clubhouse on a Saturday night will be determined by how the rugby team got on earlier that day. It offers a real sense of unity and togetherness, which is one of the fantastic aspects of grassroots rugby!
However, there are also situations where a rugby club can be rather distant from their township, either by choice or misfortune. We see this as a great shame.
Of course, they’ll still have their fans that will watch fixtures, and if they’re lucky enough to have a high profile, they’ll likely be able to attract sponsorship. Yet the community aspect and the feeling of togetherness that defines so many clubs across the country, may not exist; and on the Saturday evening, the local pub may be having a party whilst the rugby team are in their beds!
E4R Club Partner, Melrose RFC, one of the household names of Scottish Rugby Union, have experienced problems surrounding engagement with their local community. As Club President, Trevor Jackson said, ‘The committee are looking at where the Club stands in the town.’
Words such as arrogant, unapproachable and unfriendly, have been used to describe the Club by townspeople and rugby players alike, and so Melrose are seeking ways to break down the proverbial barrier and reach out to the local and wider community.
A club with the prestige of Melrose, can selcom be intimidating to ‘outsiders,’ with them housing traditions and viewpoints that backdate many years…however as the game progresses and grows, it’s key that rugby clubs move with the times.
Being a positive asset to the local community is now a must and so the fact that Melrose have realised there are wrongs to be righted is extremely positive. For example, they have teamed up with a local football side and are sharing facilities with them. What’s more, the door, that according to Trevor Jackson was always open, is now being promoted as open to the general public. Great news!
We hope this will have a positive effect on other clubs who may be in a similar position, and encourage them to act sooner rather than later.
Rugby is a great sport that endorses Great Spirit and local interaction…we don’t want our beloved sport to let age-old tradition act as negative publicity, like we’ve seen with golf in recent weeks!