A Rugby Life

A Rugby Volunteer's Blog

Weekends are for Rugby

On Sunday afternoon I got the following email from a colleague in Surrey:

“It is twenty past four, Sunday afternoon

I returned about an hour ago after refereeing Haslemere u/15s against their Guildford counterparts. Both teams stuffed full of boys at RGS Guildford, but equally both teams with boys at schools who do not play rugby.  About 100 parents coaches and spectators in good form on the touchline. Cracking game, a lot of running open rugby, one knackered referee (!), match ended 0-0…….but Haslemere won the boat race in the clubhouse afterwards!

Yesterday I was at Rosslyn Park, refereeing their 6th team against Arioch Crusaders. Again two teams who wanted to play rugby

It doesn’t get much better than this

As we battle with funding issues, regulation compliance and all the other paraphernalia that goes in to running Surrey Rugby, I do hope that each of you has managed to have as enjoyable a week-end of rugby as I have just had…….because if you haven’t, why on earth should we bother?!”

This prompted me to remember that Rugby should be at the heart of everything we do, and unless we enjoy what we do as volunteers there is little point continuing.

My Saturday was spent at Cambourne Exiles RFC, a Cambridgeshire club formed about six years ago in a newly built town, run by players for players.  They meet at the local pub before and after games and get changed in portakabins a couple of hundred yards from the pitch.

004The Parish Council have got together with the local developers and have started work on a new £½m clubhouse, with four changing rooms and an upstairs club room with bar, to be used by the rugby club, football, tennis and cricket.  Great news that will secure Cambourne’s future as a sustainable club.

I stayed to watch the game against Shelford 4s but the drizzle and cold persuaded me to leave at half-time and head back to Colchester to catch the last few minutes of their game against Thurrock and enjoy a few post-match pints with old friends.  Sunday was rugby-free as I visited my Mum in London on her birthday.

So what did you get up to?  Leave a comment and share your rugby weekend.


3 responses to “Weekends are for Rugby

  1. Andrew 8 March 2011 at 11:30 am

    I got this email from Alec Motts, President of Cambourne Exlies RFC, which he asked me to put on the blog:

    It was a worthwhile visit I made to Cambourne with you to meet the Councilors and I was very suprised at their positive message to us about the new clubhouse and its prospective opening in September. All systems go, and I managed to land another £500 sponsorship and as you know Greene King have indicated that they are interested. At half time I was frozen so cut away to see Shelford demolish Lydney. For the first time this season they looked to be at almost full strength .

    Sunday morning coaching the Shelford Under 7 s with my grandson, back to real enjoyment and following this attended the opening of the Sawston cricket clubhouse by Devon Malcolm in my capacity as president of the Cambridgeshire Cricket Association, yet another cold day. However on talking to Tony Rodgers yesterday I told him that I had introduced Greene King to the Cambridge University Rugby Club and that Stuart Eru promotions manager had been in touch with the other place and who knows where that might lead. At least they can handle the contract direct rather than have it come through me as the Eastern Counties contract did.

    Tony went on to tell me that Mark Bailey who is the Cambridge University Rugby Club President is leaving the U.E.A. and will become the High Master of St Pauls School in London ,perhaps Eton and Harrow aside the most prestigious public school in the Country. Maybe see Mark at the Penguins game on Wednesday



  2. John Mackay 10 April 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I came across a link to your blog while browsing Facebook on a Sunday evening while reflecting on my own rugby weekend which is just drawing to a close.

    Unlike your weekend in March, Saturday dawned bright and clear with warm spring sunshine and the white and pink of the blossom on the hawthorn hedges contrasting with the brilliant yellow of the daffodils.

    Arrive at Tuttles Lane (Wymondham RFC) just after 9.00 to find the ground already a hive of activity. We had put up a beer tent on Friday morning and this was now being stocked with casks of real ale, soft drinks and sweets to cater for all age groups.

    The Minis’ parents were busy firing up the barbecue and soon the smell of sizzling bacon started to whet the taste buds.

    Ten o’clock came and the rush began, two coach loads of minis and their parents on tour from Ampthill followed by a steady stream of independent travellers in their cars. I was given the impossible job of fitting the pint into the quart pot…..can you sort out the car park please?

    Fortunately, the recent spell of dry weather, although changing the playing surface from quagmire to concrete, did help us as we could park cars on the grass…anyway, we managed somehow and the tone was set when the (male) parents of the tourists were bitterly(!) disappointed on finding that our licence did not allow us to serve alcohol until 11.00.

    By now , there were minis games in progress at every age group all over every square inch of grass and there was a wonderful buzz of purposeful activity punctuated by the occasional muted blast from a coach’s whistle.

    How wonderful to see so many rugby people enjoying the game being played in a spirit of friendly but competitive rivalry.

    Then, guess what? a third coach turned up. Kettering Veterans- otherwise known as ‘the totty’ had arrived. Resplendent in their multi colored dresses, fishnets and frocks, the players headed for the changing rooms (actually they were unable to pass the beer tent without taking some ‘medicinal compound’ ).

    Meanwhile, the guests for the pre-match luncheon and 1st team players from Wymondham and Newmarket, their opponents had started to arrive and sample the ale in the club house while the caterers were busy laying the tables with crisp linen and silverware and the smell of steak and ale pie mingled with that of the burgers and sausages from the barbecue which was still going full tilt. It occurred to me that there is a certain irony in a renowned cardiologist and his wife slaving over bacon, burgers and sausages…

    All too soon the vets were at it hammer and tongs with no quarter given or asked on the bone-hard pitch! A resounding victory for the home side but, I suspect, the visitors might have been somewhat jaded by their pre-match ‘preparation’.

    Meanwhile, lunch was in full swing with 70 or so people being excellently fed. The loyal toast was drunk and Bob Sutton’s 94th birthday was marked with a splendid cake bearing the Wymondham crest and other rugby motifs and a specially posed and autographed photograph of the ‘Leathes Prior’ girls specially attired in rugby gear.

    Martin Crook made his last luncheon speech as President and he, too was honoured with a toast and presentation of an engraved tankard as a token of appreciation for his work over many years.

    On to the game which swung backwards and forwards with try being countered by try , penalty kicks regularly being slotted from prodigious distances and the outcome being uncertain until the final whistle. All very entertaining but not good for the health of the Chairman when the final result saw Wymondham lose by 34 points to 38, picking up only one losing bonus point. Ther efollowed a very nervous period until we heard the other results which meant that we finished 5th from bottom and would live to fight another season in the London Leagues.

    So, a few more drinks and the ground gradually emptied to await another influx of youth tourists from Enfield on Sunday.

    More, beautiful weather as Sunday dawned and, this time, 9.00 saw me on the A11 en route for Shelford where the EC Colts Cup competiton, which I organise and which started back in September, was to reach its climax with the Cup Final . I was thankful for an understanding wife (it was her birthday…) as I looked forward to more exciting rugby.

    Arrived at Shelford, despite the satnav deciding it would be quicker to route me through the middle of Cambridge, dispensed with the administrative formalities of ID checks etc., and wished both teams good luck.
    Watched the game in the relative cool on the far side of the pitch while reliving old memories with Bob Cranna, EC Chairman. Our acquaintance goes back some 40 years and involves a common interest in sheep…(if you don’t believe me ask Bob….he wasn’t always in the probation service you know!).
    Shelford proved by far the stronger side and deservedly took the silverware presented by Tim McNeill, EC President, but Sudbury never gave up and the game was played in a fine spirit both on and off the field.

    Finally, to round off my (perfect?) rugby weekend, I was able to relax and enjoy a highly skilful and hard fought match between EC Under 15’s and Essex with EC taking the honours and some fine individual performances on both sides.

    Back to reality and grappling with negotiations to move to a larger ground, an AGM to prepare for, our Players’ dinner with Sean Fitzpatrick and 420 guests to be finalised (to say nothing of preliminary arrangements for the season opening ball on 2nd September!), oh and there’s a management meeting on Wednesday and when can we re-seed the pitches……….

    Why do I do it? If you are a rugby person, you won’t need to ask. It’s for weekends like the one I’ve just enjoyed of course!


  3. John Mackay 10 April 2011 at 10:29 pm

    In the absence of an ‘edit’ button, I should make it clear that it was the guests, NOT the first team players who were sampling the ale before the match in the above comment!!!


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