A Rugby Life

A Rugby Volunteer's Blog

Holt and the game that never was

In the original version of this article I wrote that Basildon, having called off their game again Holt, had arranged another game away at Tabard. This was not true and I apologise unreservedly to Basildon RFC and its members for my mistake. The amended version is below.

OnWP_20160305_11_47_17_Raw[1] Saturday I went to Holt RFC where I was to present a pair of plaques at the pre-match lunch.  On the Friday I received an email saying that Holt’s opponents, Basildon RFC, had called off citing a lack of players.  However, the lunch was still on and despite the fact that I wouldn’t see a game of rugby I decided that I should still attend.

Before I left I did a bit of research as I was pretty sure that this wasn’t the first time this season that an Essex club had called of against an Eastern Counties club this season.  Sure enough, Upminster had cancelled their game at Lowestoft & Yarmouth in September, Campion called off against Holt on 5 December and the following week May & Baker failed to make the journey to Lowestoft.  I later found out that Campion called of against Cantabs this weekend as well.

We all know that clubs have difficulties from time to time for various reasons.  The day Upminster called off their game was the date of the England v Wales game in the Rugby World Cup and it may have been that may of their players had tickets.  Campion and Basildon are propping up London 2 North East and are certainties for relegation so motivation is low, but at this level you would expect the players to understand that the higher you go up the leagues to further you are likely to travel.  It is not as if they have very long journeys every week when in their league half of the twelve teams are in Essex and they only have to make the 135 mile trip to Holt once, and the journeys to Norwich and Diss are less than two hours in a coach.

WP_20160305_15_24_10_Raw[1]Clearly there was a lot of anger at Holt about the Basildon call-off.  The club is in the middle of a major overhaul of their facilities, the social area where we had lunch now one of the best available in Eastern Counties, and match-day income is very important as it is to every club.

In the absence of a game I agreed to have a short Q&A session with the 70 or so club members that decided to support the club at the lunch and not surprisingly the subject of sanctions against Basildon came up.  The team is already doomed to relegation so a deduction of league points this season will make no difference to them, but it is likely that the deduction will take effect next season so Basildon will start the 2016/17 league campaign on –5 points.  There is no mechanism for extracting some sort of compensation payment from a club that calls off although it is always worth sending an invoice for expenses incurred, e.g. food, agreed staff hours, pitch preparation,etc.

Any decision to apply further sanctions will be up to the London Organising committee and it is possible that regulations will not allow them to, but clubs in Eastern Counties have had to deal with financial losses, players have gone without games and supporters (including me) have had to do without their weekly rugby fix.  There are a lot of unhappy people in North Norfolk.


4 responses to “Holt and the game that never was

  1. Mick Jones 6 March 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Cantabs were informed on Saturday morning that Campion were not travelling. Cantabs had arranged a VP lunch for 70 people, all the food was already ordered in as was the extra beer. Volunteers at the club had put in many hours work to ensure the event could go ahead only to be let down at the last minute.
    One of the players parents had travelled up from Devon to watch his son play. All round a very poor showing from the players at Campion letting their club down.
    M Jones


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  3. Julian greatrex 14 April 2016 at 11:34 am

    Yesterday there was a consultation meeting in Essex to do specifically with London NE3 and its proposed regionalisation. Your blog on Essex clubs not honouring fixtures and John Mackay’s blog were mentioned a few times. It was agreed that you had a good point.

    However I do find your account a little one eyed as if Essex clubs were the only transgressors. My club is Wanstead and our specific issue is with Beccles. When we were due to play them at home earlier in the season our coach was halfway before we got a message saying the pitch was unplayable. So at 12.00 midday they make that decision in contravention of Competition Regulations.

    The match was then played at our place the following week.

    So when we were next due to play Beecles in March we were again due to be playing at their place. We asked them to inform us promptly if there were any pitch problems and we were told that would be done. However when we arrived it was immediately apparent the pitch was totally unplayable and that it was only at that moment, 1.00, a pitch inspection was being carried out, again in contravention of Competition regulations. It may have something to do with the fact that Beccles were having a club lunch!

    The result was that they eventually found a small school pitch with inadequate line markings and goalposts about 3 feet up from the crossbar. On my advice they played “just to get it out of the way”.

    These two road trips have cost us not just money but player enthusiasm. We are lukewarm about the proposed regionalisation but this Beccles saga has certainly helped to sour matters.

    This Saturday we are at Lowestoft & Yarmouth and to quote John Pullen “we turn up even if we’re not very good”. Three of us will be at their Club Lunch when no doubt this issue will be raised and we will have to respond. This Beccles matter will certainly be mentioned.

    Perhaps you could also do something about redressing the balance.


    • Andrew 19 October 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Julian, my apologies for not responding sooner as I had no idea you had posted a comment. I came back to this article as I am about to publish another on a similar subject.

      I understand what you are trying to say about Beccles but as far as I am aware the club honoured all its away games. Beccles has had problems with their pitches and I’m pretty sure that they even played a home game at Colchester against another Essex club. However, I accept that they should have declared their pitch unplayable sooner if it was at all possible.


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