It has certainly been an extremely interesting and challenging time at KRFC over the past twelve months and I thought it would be worthwhile to recap on events over this period so that everyone has an idea as to where we have been and where we are going.
The club's fortunes had started to change when we were relegated at the end of the 2010-11 season. At that time, following much consideration and soul searching, it was decided to stop making direct cash payments to players. It was felt that such a change in playing strategy was necessary as the paying of players had started to become divisive and the general atmosphere was beginning to compromise and challenge the very spirit and ethos of Kenilworth RFC. We therefore took this difficult decision and not surprisingly we lost a large number of our 1st XV squad who wanted to seek 'better deals' elsewhere. Consequently we started the season with very few of the regular 1st XV members from the previous season. The majority of the new squad was therefore made up of young new recruits and former Colts who, during the considerable challenge of the season to come, applied themselves very well with considerable courage, commitment and belief in Kenilworth Rugby Club. In addition to the playing side the club had also been continuing to lose money for the last few years as the level of sponsorship and bar take had reduced due to both the economic climate and lack of social spirit. The decision not to directly pay players was aimed at helping to reverse this situation as well to seek to revert to the traditional 'amateur' values of the club
In order to help shape this change of direction and the playing strategy of the club, a Future Strategy Group (FSG) has met on a regular basis with its membership consisting of both senior members of the club and current players. The FSG, together with the Main Club Committee, have contributed considerably to the changes made this season and the reality that whilst relegated for a second successive season, the club is making real progress. There is a 'buy in' and spirit that exists within the club now that has not existed for some time and is maybe best evidenced by the recent club dinner which was the most successful and enjoyable for many years with dining tables filling both bars! Please be assured though that it is the aim of the club to be as successful and competitive as is possible both on the pitch and off it. We certainly will not be content with simply having a good time socially if the rugby we are playing is not enjoyable, rewarding or at a level that we consider to be realistic and appropriate to Kenilworth Rugby Club.
Continuing on the theme of youth, our Colts side this season continued to be a very strong side within the County and were extremely unlucky not to be crowned County Colts Champions losing out narrowly to Nuneaton Colts. Likewise, next seasons Colts look extremely promising too with many younger Colts coming through which augurs well for the next few seasons of Colts rugby and of course beyond.
Our current 1st XV squad has bonded and improved throughout the season as anyone who has watched them regularly this season will testify. There were of course games that we allowed to get away from us and should have won and with a bit more experience in the side would have won. Nevertheless the players all showed a tremendous level of courage and commitment often playing against sides much, much bigger than ourselves and still thumping them back in the tackle. However, despite disappointing results we still managed to attract some very talented young players throughout the season, players who have thrown themselves into the rugby club and its way of life. Both Richard Gibson (Head Coach) and Johnny Cresswell (1st XV Captain) have worked tirelessly to create a 1st XV squad which is committed, talented and motivated to remain and fight for the inevitable resurgence that will take place in the playing fortunes of Kenilworth Rugby Club. It is great news to hear that virtually all the members of that squad have committed to playing at Glasshouse Lane next season.
So, to next season. With our relegation confirmed to Midlands 2 West (South) and the prospect of meeting a number of old rivals, such as Leamington, Banbury and Newbold, much work has already been undertaken to ensure we keep the momentum of development and growth going throughout the whole club. For example:
• Richard Gibson will continue to be Head Coach supported by a strengthened Coaching team including: Glyn Owen as Backs Coach, Johnny Cresswell as Forwards Coach and Darren Garforth as Forwards Technical Consultant.
• The 1st XV will be further supported by Joss Selby as 1st XV Manager, Colin Dick as Kit Manager and Emily Wells as Physiotherapist.
• Dean Stephenson has returned as Fixture Secretary.
• Pre-season training will commence earlier this season on Tuesday 12th June – requested by the players!
• The 1st XV will be embarking upon a pre-season conditioning tour to Newcastle upon Tyne.
• The 2nd XV is in the process of being re-branded as Kenilworth Cavaliers and already sponsorship has been identified to support this project.
• The Barbarians side will be extremely active both on and off the pitch throughout the season
• Kenilworth Colts will be managed by Steve Sutherland, Stuart Clitherow and Marcus Rink.
• A players committee is to be established to ensure an effective and constructive review of playing and coaching arrangements.
• A new Governance structure is being developed to ensure that we operate effectively as a whole club and so that we are in the best possible position of strength and resilience when there is the need to move to a new site.
• A whole club social and events programme is being developed to ensure the club remains busy and provides a real community focus.
The fortunes of the club are indeed now changing and to significantly add to the momentum both our grounds have now been awarded 'Preferred Status' to be released for housing development. It is likely to be 5-10 years before this happens so this means that we are now actively looking for a new ground for the club.
In summary there is much to be positive about at Kenilworth RFC with real but realistic optimism about the season to come. There is no doubt that next season we will be very competitive in the league and very busy in and around the club. We need to keep the existing momentum going so please make sure you visit the club as often as you can. If you feel you can lend a hand, offer some advice, or in any way be a part of this 're-build', please let me know.
Please make a note in your diary of the following events and do all you can to participate, help out or simply watch:
• Pre-season training commences – Tuesday 12th June @ 6.45pm at the Cow Patch.
• Annual General Meeting – Wednesday 20th June @ 8pm.
• Touch Competition – Thursday 21st June – contact PAG Jones – followed by....
• Comedy at the Club – 8pm – also on Thursday 21st June
• Whole Club Barbeque – Saturday 7th July – following Kenilworth Carnival – All ages...
• Comedy at the Club – 12th July.
I look forward to seeing you all soon and thank you for taking the time to read this.
2nd June 2012