A waterlogged pitch at Beccles, like at so many other rugby cubs, prevented the scheduled league match to be played on Saturday but that gave Eastern Counties an opportunity to try something a bit different.
Beccles chairman Alan Cooper had asked me to come to the pre-match lunch a couple of months earlier and when he suggested I get a table together I thought about asking the Eastern Counties Executive team to come along. As the date approached I spoke to Alan about maybe taking the opportunity to have a Question and Answer session with those at the lunch.
The game was called off on Friday but Alan confirmed the lunch would go ahead so I arrived together with Eastern Counties chairman John Phoenix, Hon Secretary Roger Pierson, Hon Treasurer Pamela Clarke and Norfolk Rep John Langford. Over 80 people were at the lunch and there would have been more if space had allowed it which is a very good effort considering there was no rugby to watch. However that did mean that people could take their time, in particular with the excellent cheese board and port the club provided.
President Huw Caine eventually brought the room to order and while he was going through his business the Beccles players arrived having gone into town for a lunch of their own. By the time the Q&A session was announced there were over 100 people in the bar. I acted as David Dimbleby and introduced my colleagues and waited for the first question. Alan and I weren’t quite sure how this would go so we had already arranged planted a couple of questions, and I had also had some sent to me in response to a post I had put on Twitter and Facebook (these questions are at the end of the article).
We needn’t have worried as there was no shortage of people wanting to ask Eastern Counties and the RFU questions on a variety of topics ranging from tickets for Six Nations games, the price of tickets for World Cup games, development and training for referees, what the RFU and Eastern Counties are doing in advance of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and support for clubs wanting to improve their facilities.
The session went on for about 40 minutes but we all stayed on afterwards and fielded individual questions for the next couple of hours; in my case I was asked about Women & Girls rugby development in the area, about our planning process, and more about the standard of refereeing, although as the beer, wine and port continued to flow I’m not sure how much sense the answers made nor if anyone remembered them!
We found it a very useful exercise particularly having the opportunity to engage directly with players. As a CB we tend to communicate with committee members and hope and trust that they in turn communicate with their playing and non-playing members, but there is no substitute for getting opinions straight from the horses mouth.
Eastern Counties will be planning to do something similar again.
Questions sent via Facebook:
- PG – Should we make scull caps / head guards mandatory for all age groups from starting contact onwards…… For, Saves ear damage. Against is gives younger players to much confidence ????
- DB – How can we encourage more primary and secondary schools to play our game. Can you incentivise PE teachers to obtain RFU coaching awards to lay firm foundations for local rugby clubs.
- ME What more should clubs be doing when Training Youth is not possible to due Pitch and Weather Constraints – should it be Mandatory that a youth section should meet to train on Non Playing items within the club?
- PD Should disciplinary hearings be at league level rather than constituent body, for fairness across the league?
I have undertaken to send these questions on to relevant people at ECRU and RFU.