A time for reflection and anticipation
30 December 2011
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Between Christmas and New Year is traditionally a time to look back at the past 12 months and to look forward to the year ahead.
It would be fair to call 2011 an ‘annus horribilis’ for the RFU, not least for the way its troubles were spread across the sports pages of the print and internet media. ‘Twickileaks’ was probably the most damaging aspect with confidential reports and emails being reported by the press, sometimes within hours of being sent internally. The success of winning the Six Nations was forgotten following the poor showing at the Rugby World Cup.
But there is cause to feel hopeful for 2012. A new Chief Executive has been appointed and he joins a new, dynamic team of directors who have brought a renewed sense of optimism since being appointed by John Steele before he left. It is significant that none of these senior people have a background in Rugby which I welcome. We have seen and heard new, fresh ideas being put forward unencumbered by the fear of breaking with tradition or upsetting the status quo. It would be good to see that kind of ethos cascade down throughout the organisation.
The interim England coaching team of Stuart Lancaster, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell has a air of refreshing optimism about it and there is some anticipation about the new, young players that may be brought in when the Elite Players Squads are announced.
On a personal level this has been a difficult time to be an RFU Council Member, especially when so much that happens is out of our control, but the recent review by Slaughter & May should begin to address the issues that caused many of the tensions so widely reported. However, I have very much enjoyed chairing the CB Planning, Funding & Reporting Task Group where great progress was made in 2011. 2012 should see the work of the Task Group nearing to completion.
I continued to visit clubs on my spare Saturdays and it is still my preferred way to spend an afternoon, standing on the touchline of a grass-roots club talking about the game to people who make it happen in Eastern Counties. I stepped down as Chair of the Community Rugby Committee at the CB but I am still the Facilities Coordinator which gives me a reason to carry on going to clubs in 2012.
I have tried to keep clubs informed about what I am up to with regular briefings and through this blog which I started almost exactly a year ago. This is my 52nd article so I have managed to average one a week although I doubt I will be able to keep that up in 2012 – I will be happy with publishing a couple a month. I’ve tried to mix the subject matter with some national issues, some local club stories and random rugby-related items that have caught my eye. I had over over 4,500 hits over the year so somebody is reading the rubbish I write!
I’m looking forward to the changes and challenges that 2012 will bring and I hope you continue to enjoy the game and the people involved in rugby as much as I do.