Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon RFC is a fine example of a grass roots club that is playing an important role in their local community. Rugby Club Magazine recently caught up with their Chairman Clive Roberts to find out more about the good work that they’ve been doing lately.
“He told us, “We are a grass roots club with over 300 children attending on Sundays; we run Junior teams for every age group from U6 up to U16 and then Colts (17, 18). We also run Girls teams at U13, U15 and U18. We run two senior sides playing on Saturdays. We have some 20 acres of land with pitches for every age group.”
“I joined the club around 2005 when my youngest son was playing rugby for the first time. It is our local club and so that’s where we went. I found the people very friendly and when they asked me if I would join and could I offer help I jumped at the chance.”
The rewarding aspects are seeing Seniors and kiddies laughing and enjoying running around with rugby balls in their hands and our strip on their chests.
The challenges are making ends meet; it takes a lot of voluntary effort to discharge the weekly workload and to raise monies to cover the bills! We have no paid staff, and observed less people put their hands up to help clean, serve in the bar, etc. as the last five years have passed; so we have instituted activities to encourage and develop clubmanship – ‘ask yourself what you have done for your club today?”
“The mood is very good at the moment; the Senior squad is tight and buzzing having been very comfortable playing and winning the league last year. The Bobcats (our girls squads) continue to develop and enjoy their rugby, now fielding three teams. They regularly attend on Thursday nights and demand their share of clubroom space and so forth, great group!”
“The season went well with the Junior section squads very happy and receiving high praise for well run and coordinated Festivals. Sadly, we have one boys age group that had lost its numbers so we combined with another local club who had the same issue to sustain rugby for all these boys.
The senior fixtures of the season were not kind to us; both the 1sts and 2nds play away on six Saturdays of the season! This is very difficult for the club as a whole, with spectators and non-playing members sad that the club did not have local games for us all to watch and cheer. However, when they were home they got a rousing welcome and strong support and they rewarded us with probably the best rugby played at the club in all my time here.”
“We plan our season in two pre-season blocks and four in season blocks and are already into the first block of mostly fitness training for seniors and colts. We are aiming to develop wider leadership in the senior players, distributing responsibilities with guidance from old heads.
We are also starting on a three year plan for aligning all 15 a-side rugby in the club, this is an interesting challenge wherein we aim to improve consistency of coaching through the age groups and hence improve the production line of players coming into the seniors squads from within the club.”
“Youth rugby is vitally important; we must retain junior rugby so we have worked hard to ensure we always have qualified coaches and are proud to say that we have on average one coach for every five players (1 to 4 for the younger groups, 1 to 8 for some teenage squads).
Back in 2006, with another club member I started our Academy (U17, U18 – others call Colts). This is a transition group wherein the boys come out as 18 year old men. Therefore we encourage them to organise themselves on and off the field.
The coaches and helpers facilitate but the boys organise socials (Curry nights) every couple of weeks, chew the fat after training and even sorting aspects of their own training and match attendance. We want to treat them as near adults that do not want their parents breathing down their necks but they have to display responsible attitudes.”
“We are very much a grass roots club and with quite a wide geography. Being outside but fairly close to south east Bath, we get players from Bradford on Avon itself plus some outlying rural communities and some from the edges of Bath.”
“We have observed some fall off of numbers playing in clubs around our region. There are many contributors to this, but we intend to work so people in our catchment perceive that joining us will guarantee they are part of a friendly club where people have fun playing, watching and talking rugby.
One stand out topic is the attention to head injuries, we want particularly parents to realise that we will ensure their children learn the correct techniques for tackling and going into contact. If we play well with good technique there should be much less chance of injury.”
“We aim to consolidate the gains of the last couple of years in terms of playing and club management. We are shortly to extend our floodlit areas to facilitate evening games and more winter training facilities. We also aim to get our seniors up another level, so our alignment programme is an important feature in our five year plans. With a strong girls section we also have an eye on a woman’s team at the club. So we keep an eye on a small range of aspirations and work hard on one step at a time!”