Guildford Rugby Football Club

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Chairmans Letter June 2018

Dear Fellow Members

I hope everyone has been enjoying the weather and looking forward to Summer Break coming soon!!

As for Rugby, our 15-a-side efforts finished on a frenzied Bank Holiday Monday at Esher with the 2s hoisting their league cup and the Gazelles beating Wimbledon to retain the Surrey Cup, excellent performances for both teams to round out fine seasons.

With the summer months comes the 7s season and both the Guildford Bears and newly formed Gazelles 7s side have done well representing Guildford in the early going and we’re now looking to start an Academy 7s side to provide a feeder for the Colts into senior rugby. Meanwhile, Dave Ward and his coaching team are working hard to ensure we enter the coming season in the best possible shape, which now includes looking for a replacement for our backs coach Topsy Ojo, who has been given a great opportunity to work with the London Irish Academy and the Wild Geese, the Irish Amateur side. All of us at Guildford wish Topsy all the best in the next step in his rugby career.

Finally, we’re still looking for a coach for the U13s girls side in September, if any of you are interested or know a good candidate, please reach out to Chris Alder (Skippy) or Susan Payne. I would also like to Congratulate Keith Crawford on winning the Surrey Rugby Volunteer Recognition Award for 2017-2018. Keith is a tremendous asset  to the Club and everyone associated with it.His time and efforts don’t go unnoticed and are appreciated by all.

Although the Rugby season is over, the Club is hard at work and very active.

We have been told by the RFU that the Club re-accreditation has been accepted and I would like to Thank Duncan Heyes for his work in getting this through.

As you are aware, last week you received Nick Taft’s Treasurer’s Letter. As stated in his Letter, and also from my previous letters, the Club has a significant financial deficit.

By adding Fund Raising Events and working on operational efficiencies, we had been able to lower this deficit significantly.

Additionally, for the long-term sustainability of the Club, we have completed initiatives that we believe will provide vital revenue streams to correct future deficits, such as refurbished Function Room, Bar Room, new Store and facilities. However, although these future revenue streams will be vital for the Club’s financial strength in the future, they will not cover the short term financial deficit the Club will have prior to end of year.

Therefore, we have had to make major decisions and changes in order to try and improve our financial position. The Board has decided to bring our Commercial functions and arrangements internally. We have terminated our agreement with Snap and will have our own Commercial Committee take over these operations. Roy O’Brien heads this committee and we have hired Emma Swadlo to work on Commercial Sales and marketing of the Club. Tim Williams and myself are on this Committee as well and we will be adding others. Anyone who wishes to help out, please reach out to me directly.

Although we have terminated our agreement with Snap, we haven’t terminated our relationship with them and are open to working together in the future when the opportunity arises to support the Club. Mark Covington, CEO of Snap, has been a member of Guildford for 25years. He has held various roles from being a ball boy as a mini, played through to the 1st Team, Coached age groups, and has now been a Coach/ Manager of the 1st XV. The Board wants to Thank Snap for the work they have done over the last 5 years, and also Thank Mark for everything he has done for the Club over the years. I am excited that Mark will be back on the sideline coaching the 1st XV again next year.

Another area we need to improve is Events and use of the Clubhouse. We need to see this revenue increase. Now that the refurbishment has been completed, we have started to advertise the Clubhouse and facilities in VantagePoint Magazine and various other areas. I urge any Member to please contact staff about having your own party at the Club, or anyone else you know.

I am excited and happy to announce that work on the North Field Pitches is expected to start by the end of June. After many meetings on the Grounds, we are executing a plan to add a Pitch along with about 125 new parking spaces. With the addition of this Pitch and additional parking, along with the agreement with Broadwater School for use of their Pitches, and the prior additional parking we added a couple of months ago, this should alleviate a long lasting frustration and need of more Pitch Space and parking at Guildford.

We also do believe in the future we will be able to add additional training areas for some mini or youth groups as well, but that will have to wait for next season.

So, although the season is over and Summer is coming upon us, the Club is buzzing with activity. In a short period of time, we have added to our Rugby Play with adding 7’s and Youth Girls Rugby, both of which we expect to grow significantly over the years.

We have been able to refurbish all aspects of the Clubhouse and facilities, with a new Gym, Store, refurbed Function Room and Bar Room. We have now been able to address the long-term frustration of Pitches and Parking with multiple initiatives. We have opened more communication across the Club with various committees and updates from the Board. We are also working to address and improve the significant financial deficit the Club faces. Lastly, although not always as visible but definitely as important, we continue to work on process and procedures, adding Safeguarding measures and continue to work to always improve in all of these areas. I am grateful for the many lending and helpful hands in many of these areas.

To continue on our Goal of transparency and clarity, I confirm that in addition to an RFU Grant, I am donating funds for the new Pitch space, Posts and Parking. I have also personally guaranteed Emma Swadlo’s compensation to give the Club no risk or loss on the new position.

As I have said in every Letter I have sent you, the Board will do everything it can to better the Club and make it sustainable for future Generations to enjoy. But, we need your help. Please get involved in any way you can and work with us. Sponsor, Donate, come down and enjoy!! Anything you can do will better your Club.

As always, please reach out to me anytime with any questions. I hope to see you all soon.

All the best 

Joe

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