Kidderminster Carolians RFC is a fine example of a community club that prides itself on being open to everyone. Club Representative David Jones-Percival recently took the time to speak with Rugby Club Magazine.
He told us, “I first joined the club as a player aged 30 in 1986, having previously retired. A teacher colleague of my wife, past president Alan Dixon persuaded me to play as my wife told him I was like a bear with a sore head on Saturdays.”
“Managing even an amateur Rugby Club has become a full-time job with far too much admin and paperwork to be done. Getting volunteers to fill all the roles in the Club is getting harder and the lack of support from state schools has changed the way we plan for the future of adult rugby.
“It is great to see the first XV doing well and playing some excellent rugby this year. As a club we struggle to put out as many teams as we did in the past but it has been wonderful to see the re-emergence of a Veterans XV who are doing the club proud and wining trophies at home and abroad. The most rewarding aspect is to see the clubhouse full with players and supporters and a great atmosphere.
“This season it has been a case of so far so good. Top of the league and the Vets have just come back from Monza winning their second International Tournament. We are now aiming to progress in the League and Cup and would like to mount a promotion challenge.
“The only way the adult teams will survive is through an injection of youth from below. State schools do not really provide the players they did in the past and our Mini/Junior section is our future. It is fantastic to see hundreds of kids running around playing the game every Sunday.
“The most challenging aspect of the Clubs future is transitioning young players into the senior game. At 16-18 young players have conflicting activities that pull them away from Rugby and the demands of the modern game are far greater than in the past and we lose far too many young players before they transition into the senior sides.
“We are a Community Amateur Sports Club and open to everyone of any Race, Colour or Creed. On both Saturday and Sunday you will find families and children at the club.
“As mentioned, we would like to challenge for promotion this season and also want to improve the coaching across all sections of the club. I personally would like to see the club field another side on a regular basis. Possibly a social side and we are exploring the option of playing on days other than Saturday and Sunday.”
The club’s Mini/Junior Chairman Jamie Orralso took the time to speak with us, saying, “I’ve been involved with the club for about six years in various guises with two spells as M/J Chair. I started out as most youth section volunteers do as an ‘enthusiastic parent’ to quote one of our committee members.”
“There was a job that needed doing (vice chair initially I think I recall) as part of succession planning and I thought why not. At this point I’d been socially involved with some members for a few years and that aspect is, of course, very enjoyable and there’s always someone about to have a pint with, put the world to rights and have a bit of rugby banter.
“Probably the most challenging part of my role keeping everyone happy all the time. Balancing the needs and development of the children/young adults is paramount but some of those ideas don’t always sit well in the adult world!
“It can be a challenge but the reward is seeing (sometimes 250+) youngsters running around, perhaps getting their first try, making a great tackle or simply happily hanging around the club with their mates whilst the grownups have a quick drink before heading off home for a Sunday roast!
“I have to pay tribute though, to the team of volunteers that I’m fortunate to work with – we have a management committee and group of coaches who, to a person, have an amazing ‘can do’ attitude and without that teamwork AND camaraderie we couldn’t achieve half of what we do – I hope all clubs are as lucky as we are!
“It is a case of so far, so good in general terms this season. The sad part was seeing our senior most side, the U17s fold due to a lack of numbers and not for the first year. There are a number off actors at play that contribute to this sometimes annual event, some of which have happened for years and others more recently. It seems no amount of trying could keep the team together which is obviously critical to the future of the club. That said, I’m confident in the strength of our emerging U16s going into next season and hope to see some of our lads returning.
“I believe youth rugby to be an essential part of the whole club’s development – these guys represent the future at KCRFC and we want to prepare them as best we can for our senior sides. We’re fortunate in having a truly great set of coaches in the junior section who are working alongside a very experienced senior coaching set up to manage that transition.
“I also think it crucial to prepare the youngsters minds and attitudes in preparation for their future roles in the club – I’m a big believer in TREDS as a mantra and think it’s one of the best things England Rugby have rolled out. Rugby is a great ‘shaper’ for kids as they mature and we hope in some way it can contribute to them becoming decent,rounded adults.
“We try to ensure the kids at the club receive the best coaching we can and our aspiration is always to get our coaches to qualify and continue that coaching conversation both through CPD and sharing best practice. We’ve been fortunate to have had an evening with the most knowledgeable Russell Earnshaw early in the season and the momentum and enthusiasm towards our coaching offering is growing after perhaps a few years in the wilderness. Couple that with the experience of our senior club coaches and things are looking up … Rome wasn’t built in a day but there’s a definite keenness to move forward with some new ideas.
“We hold an annual Under 10’s festival which this year was attended by fifteen local(ish) teams. Under guidance from the RFU we run this as a strictly ‘no winners’ event with everyone getting a medal and the emphasis on all children getting equal and plentiful game time through the morning/afternoon. It’s almost a rite of passage for the management/coaching team of that age group at the time and takes some organising, but I have to say they do it with aplomb and we always receive great feedback from visitors.
“As always, I would say are ambitions are with growing/rejuvenated numbers to assure the future position of the club. We are trying very hard to promote and grow our first girls rugby age group and I’d like to see that succeed. I would hope also that with the Mini & Junior section’s support the club as a whole can go from strength to strength, not JUST on the pitch but continue to provide an enjoyable and safe haven for all and remain profitable with the help of our generous sponsors and members.”