This is the report I submitted for the Eastern Counties Annual Report. Unfortunately it was omitted from the copy sent to clubs.
Annual Report 2011/12
Twelve months ago my report looked back upon a year that saw the appointment of John Steele and CEO of the RFU and was full of optimism for the future. On the day the report was sent to clubs John Steele left the RFU and what followed was a period of turmoil that made the start of my fourth year as your RFU representative very difficult with the press having a field day. This was exacerbated by England’s poor showing on and off the field in New Zealand resulting in the resignation of Martin Johnson.
Nevertheless, we have come through it all with the guidance and leadership of President Willie Wildash and interim Chairman Paul Murphy. Paul will be the new President for the 2012/13 season and Bill Beaumont is almost certain to stand unopposed for the post of Chairman.
A consequence of the troubled time we went through was the commissioning of a report into Governance of the RFU which was undertaken by Slaughter & May. This has dominated discussions at recent RFU Council meetings and will do so for some time to come. Some of its 150 recommendations are quite radical but it has been agreed that clubs must be consulted before any decisions are made and I have tried to keep clubs in Eastern Counties informed of latest developments.
On the field Stuart Lancaster has been a breath of fresh air and he has reignited many supporters’ passion for the national side. England’s style of play in the Six Nations kept us on the edge of our seats and there is a real sense of optimism for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
In all I have spent 48 days on RFU business this season and I must thank my employers for allowing me to take the time off. However, my ideal weekend must include watching a game from the touchline of a local club and talking to local volunteers about local issues, so I’m pleased to have managed to fit in 33 visits to 27 different Eastern Counties clubs, plus the Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk committees.
At Twickenham I have chaired the CB Planning, Funding & Reporting Task & Finish Group for the past 2½ years and the work of the group has now come to an end. It has been challenging but I have enjoyed it and the result should be increases in budgets to grow the game at grass-roots level. I have also been a member of the Club & CB Services and Funding Committee whose decisions frequently affect all grass-roots clubs which is why I am so keen to keep visiting clubs in the area.
Communication with local clubs has been a key part of my role and other than the usual method of emails I have regularly updated my Twitter and Facebook accounts and continue to write articles for my online blog ‘A Rugby Life’ at https://asarek.wordpress.com. I have now published over 75 articles and the readership is getting wider every month. What is important to me is the feedback I get which helps me to decide how to vote on key issues at Twickenham.
I can’t be at the Eastern Counties Dinner this year as I will be Africa, first with the England Counties XV where apart from games against Uganda and an East Africa XV we will be doing some community outreach work with the TAG Rugby Trust, then to Nigeria where I hope to help develop the game in the country where I was born.
I wish you a restful break from rugby until the start of the 2012/13 season when I look forward to visiting your club.
Andrew Sarek – RFU Council Member (Eastern Counties)
Related Post – 12/6/2011 RFU Representative Annual Report 2010/11