Surrey Rugby Newsletter - December 2020

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Surrey Rugby Newsletter

December 2020


To all Surrey Volunteers, Patrons, Supporters and Clubs

On behalf of everyone at Surrey Rugby may I take this opportunity to wish you and all your families and friends not only Seasons Greetings but also continued good health and safety from the COVID 19 pandemic which has blighted much of 2020. Our thoughts and condolences are of course extended particularly to those who have lost loved ones from within the wider Rugby family due to this pandemic.

You are probably aware of the massive efforts being made to “Return to Play” - involving the introduction of Amended Laws. Guidance on Clubhouse usage, Changing Rooms and Showers guidelines and a wide range of other considerations before we can resume full participation in rugby.  This guidance is changing rapidly so I would refer you to the RFU website and or the Surrey website rather than re -present information here which might well be out of date before you read it!.  Surrey Rugby is happy to help with any queries through our office which is manned by our Office Manager Jo Fisher (currently flexibly furloughed).

Tyrone Lawless details below some of the proposed competitions and conferences which we are arranging in the New Year.

In 2020 we made the decision to relocate the Surrey Office from Riverbridge House in Leatherhead to an office within the Old Cranleighan Club in Thames Ditton. We consolidated our storage arrangements and with a lot of hard work by our own staff, RFU staff and a number of key volunteers, the removal was completed very effectively.  Although we have been operating a virtual office throughout most of 2020 this decision has reduced our cost base and ensures that our funds are being recirculated within the world of rugby. Our focus is to use as much of our resources as possible to getting more rugby played.

Sadly, in late 2020 we made the decision that the part-time roles of Sarah Fowler and Ellie Pragnell could not be sustained and these roles were made redundant.

We thank both Sarah and Ellie for their work over many years and wish them every future success. 
The RFU has also undertaken a significant restructuring program in 2020 predicated upon the enormous revenue reduction suffered by the loss of spectator games at Twickenham. This has been well publicised elsewhere, but the net effect to Surrey was that we lost one of our Regional Development Officers - Dan Buckland and all our RFU funded Community Rugby Coaches.

Happily in the shake up the RFU has retained George Maxwell in a new role as Club Development Officer and welcomes back Adam Cottingham in his new role as CB Relationship Manager. Both of these guys have a long association with Surrey from previous roles and we look forward to an exciting time in working with them to help our clubs.

One upside from the COVID lockdown period has been the progress made in the use of virtual communications – both by Surrey and the RFU.  This enables direct communication with our clubs whilst restricting the need for volunteers, and those with busy private and professional lives, to travel across the county for various meetings.

In 2020 we not only enjoyed our first Virtual Awards Dinner but also held our first virtual AGM.  Both events were very well received and featured many attendees from clubs which had not previously been able to participate.

We are communicating widely with DORs, coaches and others involved in the playing of the game through dedicated WhatsApp groups, Zoom communications and Webinars. We hope you will join these as appropriate and engage as fully as possible with ourselves and the RFU.

Paula Carter

In the course of 2020 one of our two RFU Council Representatives, Paula Carter, was nominated to join the board of the RFU as one of four Council nominations. We extend our heartiest congratulations to Paula upon this prestigious appointment.

Our long-standing Council Representative Malcolm Caird (who also served for many more years in a variety of senior roles within Surrey including as Chairman) has recently announced his intention to step down from his position at the end of the season - which marks the third year of his third term of office.

We will be organising an RFU election in due course in 2021 for both Council positions so please watch out for further information.

The focus of the funding from the RFU in recent times has been to create an Immediate Support Fund to help clubs affected adversely by the COVID 19 pandemic. Surrey has match-funded these RFU amounts and this ISF “pot” will continue to be available to our clubs until the end of the season to help with immediate needs arising from the COVID 19 pandemic. If you feel that your club could qualify for some of this additional funding, please be in contact to discuss the relevant criteria. More information on how to apply is on our website

Many of our clubs have worked diligently to rein in their costs during the lockdown and happily have avoided the need for emergency funding. We remain hopeful that these funds will continue to be maintained and re-invested as a contingency fund as the world of rugby returns to increased activity.

As spectators return to grassroots rugby, we are offering pitch side “Pitch respect barriers” to all clubs. These will help to designate appropriate spectator locations but will also act as a reminder that our values extend beyond the field of play to include those supporting their teams. Please contact the office if you have not received yours!

Patrons and Sponsors
Our Patrons have continued to support grassroots rugby by renewal of their subscriptions throughout 2020. We are deeply grateful for this ongoing patronage and hope that as rugby recovers, we will be able to resume offering more tangible benefits for this support. Meanwhile we are using our self-generated funds to support our office activity and to coordinate our volunteer work which underpins most of the work within the county.

We appreciate the amount of frustration amongst our clubs as members are chomping at the bit to see grassroots rugby restored. Please understand that we and the RFU share this impatience but recognise the overarching need to prioritise community safety -in which rugby has played a leading role.

We now believe the prospect of rugby, possibly in an amended format, being played again is imminent. At that time my fellow Officers and management colleagues look forward to resuming something approaching “normal service” - however we define that!

May I take this opportunity to wish you, your families, friends and club members a Happy, Healthy and Safe Christmas and a prosperous New Year  
Best regards
John Pownall
Surrey Rugby

Competitions Newsletter
Hopefully Santa is bringing us all the gift of playing rugby in the New Year under the adapted regulations of no scrums and mauls.
Senior Competitions: 
The proposed start date is from 23rd January 2021 for Round 1 of the one-off structure of localised conferences of 5-6 teams giving 8-10 matches plus cross conference finals on the last weekend of April.  We have planned this approach from levels 5-12 and all the reserve leagues.

The aim is to allow clubs to have localised fixtures in as equal,  yet competitive, format as possible whilst still allowing the end of season finals for all clubs to have a chance to win a trophy.

We have also restructured the cup structure for teams to be in groups of 3 - playing 2 x 40 minute matches at the same venue in their group and all teams to make a semi-final.

The Surrey Finals Day is planned for the weekend of 14-16th May 2021.
Junior Competitions
We have changed the offering for Junior competitions due to the shortened season, but our structure will still allow for clubs to enter at the appropriate standard and play for the

  • Quins Cup - 15/16/Colts & 15/18 Girls
  • Waterfall cups: 12/13/14s & 13 Girls.
  • The TREDS 10s, Surrey values and Xpitch 7s will also be run across the age groups as one day festivals giving lots of rugby opportunities in line with the age grade calendar.

Mini Festivals
Surrey Rugby will be running the end of season minis festival at the venues that missed out last season. All these dates can be found on the Surrey website under Age Grade Rugby.
Game Development update
Hopefully clubs are making use of the online coaching resources on the RFU website and signing up to the online coaching TV which is being funded by Surrey this season.

We have also planned in 6 Coaching sessions across the County being run for our coaches by our experienced and knowledgeable club coaches.  Sharing best practice and new ideas that can be taken back to our clubs to be cascaded throughout all the team coaches and players.

Details of our coaching plan have been shared with the club DORs, Head coaches and CCCs. It is also available on the website under game development resources.
Tyrone Lawless
Chair, Competitions & Age Grade Rugby
Surrey Rugby