2021 marks the 150th anniversary of WRFC. It is remarkable we can trace our history back to 1871. Much has happened since our first game against the Royal Artillery Rugby Club and I know we all look forward to the day, soon, when we can return to what we enjoy best – playing or watching a good game of rugby.
It is also almost five years since we moved to our current home from Sixways and it seems timely to reflect on our recent journey – as players, members, parents and friends – and how we see our hopes and aspirations for the future.
When our clubhouse was located at Sixways, life was easy. We could focus on the core aim of Community Rugby, keeping subs at a very low cost whilst offering generous tour subsidies to all age groups. We didn’t have to care about rent, rates, pitch maintenance, building maintenance or any other large costs associated with running a rugby club. Warriors paid for it all allowing each rugby section to build up modest surpluses. Of course, the arrangement also suited the Warriors. They were able to make use of our Club name, history and location to help realise their ambition to be a Premiership rugby club.
For us, the arrangement wasn’t without its downsides. With the lack of a clear identity, the M&J Section and Seniors drifted apart. There was confusion about who our first team was – the amateur WRFC or the professional Warriors? For clarity, it was and will ALWAYS be our amateur side! We also didn’t receive any income from bar sales and, understandably, the Warriors priority was the professional game.
Those involved with running our club recognised the long-term sustainability of WRFC relied on us owning and managing our own facilities. A financial deal was struck with the Warriors, enabling us to move across the road to our current home at Weston’s Field. The deal included a lump sum to pay for our clubhouse and a five-year agreement for Warriors to maintain our grounds at no cost to us. That valuable ground maintenance agreement comes to an end next season.
This move brought new opportunities and challenges. One Clubhouse – One Club. A resolution to rebuild the links between all sections of our club, MJ, Seniors and Patrons. We were determined to retain the traditional ethos of an amateur rugby club. Rugby first, member-led and at the heart of our community. However this comes with the harsh realisation that owning and running our club comes with significant responsibilities, not least financial.
Thus, a new rugby business model was developed. We needed to grow player and patron membership and, importantly, use our new clubhouse to generate revenue to subsidise our ambitions. This new income would be from external bookings or members booking parties / events. A key stream of income is members and parents supporting the club by buying kit, food or drink after training and matches as a huge element of rugby is the social side of the sport. There were further opportunities to be had from supporting events help at the club like The 6 Nations etc and other fund-raising initiatives.
We are coming to the end of the five-year deal with the Warriors and now have to start looking at paying for maintaining our grounds. This is an expensive undertaking and a huge financial challenge for our club. We are actively pursuing as many commercial activities as possible to lower the financial burden on players and members and to retain our Community Rugby ethos.
The Covid-19 pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for us. It has placed many restrictions on our new commercial activities. Reducing our ability to generate revenue from external sources. There are some success stories during these challenging times. We are now hosting NHS Blood Donation Sessions and we are looking at opportunities to utilise our clubhouse and grounds over the Summer to generate further income.
Our club needs your support more than ever. We are now firmly one club from Under 3’s through all the age-grades to our 1st Team, branching out to our brilliant girls and newly formed women’s team and also our many social rugby teams. We literally have players from 2 to 60+.
There are many simple ways that you can continue to support our fantastic club and help to keep rugby cost low for everyone.
We have fantastic social facilities, please enjoy them!
- Pay your subscriptions and introduce new players & members to the club.
- Bring the family on a Saturday or Sunday to watch our matches.
- Promote the clubhouse to friends and family for private functions
- Involved in local business? Can you help us? Advertise your prdocuts or services? Host a corporate day? Sponsor a game or even a team! Host your company’s event, awards or annual party at the club. It is a truly great local venue.
- Keep safe and observe our Covid19 rules
Everyone involved in the club should appreciate that our club is purely on loan to us. It is up to us to use it, secure it’s future & improve it for the generations to come - We are simply temporary custodians of this great institution.
If we all play our small part in supporting our club and each other then we will keep this great club fit and healthy and ready for whatever next comes our way in the future. With the hope of celebrating our tercentenary in 2171
Here’s to 2021 and the first 150 years of Worcester RFC!