Good Evening All,
I hope this email finds you all with a face mask in your pocket!
I thought that as things begin to move on the rugby front, it would be a good time to reflect on the recent past and remind us where we are now with the return to rugby programme.
During the very early stages of the pandemic we as a County were able to liaise with all our member clubs to help and support you as you all made the individual decisions to “mothball” your premises as the pandemic took a grip of the nation.
We were then able to focus on and ensure that you were all able to access the appropriate funding from various agencies.
We are pleased to announce that all eligible clubs were successful in obtaining rate support from LA’s and indeed some clubs also benefited from obtaining grants from other agencies.
The County are in the process of organising and delivering Covid safety signs, no touch thermometers and personal hand sanitisers to all our clubs in an attempt to ensure that we are all ready for the day we can welcome everyone back to our game. We know how hard your clubs are working behind the scenes to make their premises “Covid compliant”.
We, the County executive have kept in regular contact with your committees to support them in any way possible during this crisis in our game, and I do believe that we have forged an even stronger bond between us all. We, as a county have seen nothing but sheer passion, positivity and hard work being carried out on your behalf by those women and men that lead your clubs.
Please rest assured that we at County will continue to support all our member clubs in any way we can, to try and ensure that all their hard work is realised. For those clubs that have been able to embed themselves in helping their local communities, we salute you! For all those countless volunteers that have given their time freely in order to run online fitness sessions, quizzes etc again on behalf of your clubs we thank you.
Return to Rugby (RTR)
We know there is a lot of frustration within community clubs in their desire to move from phase B to C on the Return to Rugby Roadmap (See Picture) We thought it would be helpful for you to be aware of the process the RFU has to go through to accelerate the return to play.
The following links set out the process that Public Health England (PHE) require the sport to provide following the announcement 2 weeks ago of the return to play guidelines. Please click here to read the latest information from the government and here to read an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The RFU is in the final stages of providing PHE with the action plan and hopes soon to be able to move further along the roadmap to the next phase. The Return to Play Roadmap is the only guide clubs and coaches should follow until we reach Phase E and only then will we move towards the possibility of full contact XV-a-side matches. As we all patiently wait (well in most cases!) for this to occur, it is worth reminding everyone that we MUST ALL observe the current guidelines with regards to training etc whilst at our clubs, especially on social media where it is apparent that some of the pictures posted show that we are not keeping to those guidelines.
After all the ongoing hard work taking place at your clubs, PLEASE don’t allow any reputational damage to occur to your clubs by breaking (and advertising!) the guidelines.
The RFU have stated:
We have received a number of reports of clubs not training within RFU guidance and are in breach of government policy. As a Reminder to all coaches & club officials, we are currently at Stage B on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap.
The RFU could use Regulation 5:12 to discipline clubs and/or for bringing the game into disrepute, something none of us wants to see happen.
For clarity, we have been informed that as we reach Phase E on the return to rugby roadmap, there will be at least a 4-week gap before any clubs can return to normal full contact inter club rugby. (game play at Phase E is just internal club type matches.)
Please note, we do not know the start of the youth/mini season yet - however it will NOT be the first weekend in September, so would advise all clubs to follow the RTR roadmap guidance and not rely on the out of season Age Grade guidance.
Once we are on Phase F, the pre circulated rugby models will kick into place. Before we reach Phase F, they are irrelevant and it’s only the Return to Rugby Road map that must be adhered to.
The most recent RFU update advised Bucks RFU and its member clubs of the challenges the RFU is facing with significant projected financial losses in season 20/21 and possibly beyond. As most will know Bucks RFU receives funding to support rugby development across a broad spectrum, we have now been advised that this funding will reduce by 70% from last year’s figure, sufficient to cover admin costs but with little left to support our traditional work.
We will however be able to continue to support some areas of youth rugby development as the RFU has provided separate funding for this purpose but again, until we receive a RTR date it is difficult to quantify what that programme will involve.
Bucks RFU is holding a club support fund which is made up of broadly equal contributions from our own reserve funds and money made available to us by the RFU. We have already seen this funding being used for providing Covid signage etc (as above) to clubs, as well as grants for pitch maintenance.
Our intention is to ensure that funding will be available to those clubs who will need it most as we move forward in these uncertain times.
RFU Staff News
Our RDO, Tim Holmes and CRC, Alan Lane, are part of the Bucks rugby family and both offer support well beyond their normal RFU duties. Alan has been on furlough since late March, and Tim has been working as part of a regional club and County support team. Both now have the increased anxiety of a staff review being carried out by the RFU. There have been announcements of significant redundancies which could well impact on either of them. We in Bucks rely on both Alan and Tim to guide and support us on our rugby journey and we will do all in our power to try ensure both will still be there at the end of the RFU review, we need them! At the moment the process requires consultation and due process and it would be wrong to speculate on the outcome. We have been informed that no decisions have been taken on individuals or individual roles and these are unlikely to be finalised before the end of August. We wish them both luck for a successful outcome.
I really do hope that this brings you all up to date with what is happening in local rugby, we do totally appreciate how frustrating things are at the moment, especially as we see other sports returning before us, however its worth remembering that the best is often saved till last! Remember our core values and remain within the guidelines please.
Take care of yourselves and those close to you, RUGBY will be back soon!
Chair Buckinghamshire RFU
On behalf of Bucks RFU Executive committee July 2020