Grassroots rugby. It’s where the stars of the future begin their rugby careers but more importantly, it’s where the majority of the rugby playing community spend their whole time in the game. The professional game is largely the focus of attention for many due to levels of exposure given to it but, at E4R, we want to change that.
You, the grassroots rugby clubs, players and supporters are our focus. Everything we want to do works towards the goal of developing rugby at a grassroots level. You are the reason why we have spent so much time looking at what we can do to help, through using our network, contacts and partnerships as a business and a group of ex-rugby players, to help the rugby playing community.
Take a regular rugby club. Probably very similar to the one down the road from you. Facilities are a key factor in ensuring it has a successful future for many reasons but we feel that too many clubs are having to cope with not being able to make any changes to current situations and environments.
This might be through choice or circumstance. To continue developing as a club (it’s not related to winning on the field as in professional rugby) the key individuals who make decisions need to understand the influence a club’s infrastructure can have on player retention, membership numbers and finance.
When we talk about facilities we are not simply talking about buildings. The state of the pitches, floodlighting and access to areas which can be used for training or games at night are an issue, as are the changing facilities.
No player wants to be involved in a club where the changing facilities are terrible, where the showers are cold and where they aren’t at least comfortable in their surroundings. Let’s not slip into the ‘old school’ trap and call it character building. It’s not.
It’s just horrible; plain and simple.
Likewise, no club member wants to head down to watch a game and find themselves leaning on the bar afterwards, realising that it isn’t somewhere they want to spend time socialising with other members. Essentially, the clubhouse and the bar are the beating heart of local club rugby. It’s a place where relationships are formed, friendships made and spirit developed.
Having facilities to allow this to happen is something every club should strive for and it's so refreshing to see and hear about clubs that are making developments on this front all the time.
Grassroots rugby is not only a sport but a social provision.
The local community can, and hopefully will, use the club as a hub for local events and meetings. However, if the facilities are not of a certain standard, the club isn't giving itself the best opportunity to access much needed funds from bar sales and events that can be run within the building.
Some of the clubs we regularly talk to and work with are very creative in the way that they use their facilities. We've realised just how important these innovative ideas can be and when you strike comparisons with the clubs who have either missed a trick or have struggled with funding, the gap in facility standards are clear.
We know that it’s very difficult for rugby clubs to survive. However, there is much that can be done by all clubs to keep moving in the right direction.
We understand the importance of the local rugby club, not just from a sporting aspect but a social one too and we are here for the long term to help and develop the game.
We’d be really interested to hear the challenges that your club faces and the frequency that you are faced with them.
So many clubs have similar and vastly ranging issues to face and we want to know them all so we can cover every area effectively.