COVID 19 - Club Update #7

COVID 19 - Club Update #7

By Stuart Howkins
17 October
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PLEASE READ - Important COVID update, plus other club news

Dear fellow Vandal

Before I talk about the implications to the club of Elmbridge moving into the tier 2 category this Saturday I would like to recognize the many hardworking volunteers who have given up their time to ensure that OUR club has continued to operate safely/legally by successfully adapting to stricter rules and restrictions that the government announced at the end of September. Thank you to everyone who has visited the club in recent weeks for cooperating with safety measures we have put in place especially by using the track and trace codes displayed around the club to sign in. I would also like to thank everyone who has agreed to be the COVID Officer for their age group on a Sunday morning, this is a new but crucial role for us to keep our thriving mini and junior sections operating every Sunday.

As club President I am really proud that we have been able to keep OUR club open and thriving despite the increasingly challenging environment and the lack of any competitive league fixtures in rugby or netball.

Senior rugby
Last Saturday following a prolonged pre-season our senior squad of over 40 players took part in an old school club trial match using adapted Ready4Rugby rules. I’m pleased to report that the game was a great success and the adapted rules led to a fast and open game between two well coached and evenly matched squads. The two things that really stood out was the influx of talent stepping up from last years very successful colts team and the obvious team spirit that our head coach Damian and his coaching team have engendered both on and off the pitch which should lead to an exciting season when league rugby finally returns.
Damian is in the process of organizing a competitive Ready4Rugby tournament for Saturday 24th of October featuring a couple of Vandals senior teams and sides from Holloway college and Effingham. Why not come down and cheer the boys on.

Mini/Junior Rugby
As a new club President I have really enjoyed visiting the club on a Sunday to see our mini and junior teams in action. Despite the COVID challenges our mini and junior sections continue to thrive with numbers growing each week giving us a welcome car parking headache. I would like to pay tribute to all of our junior and mini coaches who are doing such a great job developing our next generation of Vandals. With no full contact and without games against other clubs it is a real challenge for these coaches to keep their sessions fresh and fun but from what I see each week they are doing a wonderful job.

Our netball ladies are training hard and are looking forward to the return of their netball leagues in January.

So as a Vandals family we still have lots to be positive about and lots to look forward to but on the rollercoaster ride that is COVID the news on Thursday that Elmbridge is moving into COVID Tier 2 from Saturday morning gives us another challenge that we need to face into.

On a positive note the Tier 2 rules state that organized sport can continue to be played outdoors and it is our intention to continue to train,play and coach rugby under the RFU guidelines whilst we are able to do so. It is crucial that everyone visiting the club continues to follow the COVID compliance rules we have put in place;
• everyone visiting the club must continue to sign in by scanning one of the numerous QR code’s around the club or by pre-registering before you come. This remains a legal requirement which will seriously expose OUR club if not followed. Once at the club adults need to continue to follow the rule of 6 social distancing rules.

The big change that comes with moving to Tier 2 is that for the time being we will no longer be able to offer the table ordering service inside the bar or anywhere else inside the clubhouse. The club leadership team are determined to do everything they can to adapt to this restrictive change without having to lockdown the clubhouse and the plan is to remove the sides of the marquee on the patio so that it qualifies as an outdoor venue where we can still offer a table ordering service. However it is worth noting that the take up for this table ordering service has been very low since it was introduced a couple of weeks ago making the cost of running such an operation very high.
Whilst we are under the Tier 2 restrictions the bar will be closed weekdays and on Saturdays unless their is a planned event like next Saturday’s senior Ready4Rugby tournament.

On Sunday mornings Breakfast baps and hot drinks will continue to be served from the BBQ hut from 9.30am. Soft drinks and snacks can be purchased by an adult from the bar if wearing a mask from 10am (no kids in the bar).The bar table ordering service for the marquee and outside will be be available between 11am and 2pm with a maximum of 6 people per table.

We will continue to review the viability of this service on a week by week basis and communicate any change accordingly.

It is clear as I write this message that there is no quick end to the pandemic in site and that as a result as a club we will be facing a significant shortfall in our annual funding. Thanks to shrewd financial management over many years and members generosity the club went into this period of COVID restrictions in a relatively healthy financial position but the COVID restrictions and no competitive rugby or netball at a grass roots level has meant the following income generators have been lost;

  • NO Beer festival
  • NO Junior festivals spring and autumn
  • NO City fundraising lunch
  • NO Cricket dinner/auction
  • NO match day lunches and bar takings
  • NO revenue from hiring out our facilities
As a result of this lost income the club leadership team have been working to reduce any discretionary costs but we will still have a funding gap that we need to bridge.

In the weeks ahead I am going to be calling on your time and appealing for your generosity as we look to bridge this funding gap in the following ways;

  1. Sponsorship- Our club captain Steve Reed and our sponsorship manager Jo Brown have been leading the drive to attract sponsors and when you visit the club you will see that a number of new sponsor boards have gone up which is fantastic. However given our affluent catchment area and the reach of our membership it still feels like we are scratching the surface of our sponsorship potential. Are you a potential sponsor? Do you know a potential sponsor that you could introduce to Steve or Jo? Please contact if you have any leads or contacts.
  2. Club Christmas Raffle; we are going to re-introduce the club Christmas raffle. How can you help? If you can donate a suitable prize please contact me. When we send out tickets to be sold, please please go the extra mile to sell them.
  3. Online auction; in the absence of the City fund raising lunch we would like to run an online auction and I am looking for up to ten memorable auction items.We will be using our contacts to obtain rugby memorabilia but if you have a valuable auction item that you would be prepared to donate then please contact me.
  4. 500 club; If your not a member of the 500 club please join, if you are a member is there anyone that you could introduce to be a member. My predecessor Gareth Owen is looking to grow the 500 club to 500 members but he needs all of our support to do this. Let’s help him make it happen.
  5. St George’s Day ball at Twickenham; In his final season as RFU chairman Vandals legend Andy Cosslett has agreed to host a St George’s day ball at the home of English rugby on Friday 23rd April. COVID allowing this unique event will be the biggest Vandals social occasion in a generation and our single biggest fundraising opportunity. Can you host a table? Please contact Steve Reed or Dave Mellows to let them know.
  6. TIME; last but by no means least can you spare any time. Our club runs on the hard work of a small group of committed volunteers, without them we don’t have a club. But here’s the thing WE NEED MORE. If you love the Vandals and have a small amount of time and a positive contribution to make then please think about putting your hand up to volunteer. We have an immediate need for a couple of willing volunteers to take over the running of the club shop at the weekend. WHY NOT YOU? If your interested please let one of the rugby committee know or talk to me when i am at the club on Sundays.

I recognize that there are literally hundreds of grassroots sports clubs like ourselves across the UK who are also facing into the ongoing COVID challenges but I also I know that it will be the clubs where members pull together and support their club in its hour of need that will survive. I am confident that the Vandals is one such club and I look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with you on our fundraising efforts in the months ahead.

Thank you for your support and I hope you and all your loved ones remain safe and well during this ongoing pandemic.

Come on you Vs


Kevin Keaney
Club President

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