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A Bump in the Road

By Stephen Leach

A background to life as the Chairman of Staines Rugby

I've been in the role of Chairman of Staines Rugby for a little over 18 months now, my team and I have made lots of positive changes to the club and it's environment over that time and hopefully all of those who visit now feel the change at the club. That doesn't mean we haven't been without our challenges, from changes to the board, thefts to recruiting the right manager for the club there has always been something that keeps our feet firmly on the ground.

When I took on the role I thought it would be challenging, what I wasn't quite ready for was the fact that Staines RFC is a business that runs a rugby club and not a Rugby club that has a business. My role and that of many of the others on the board is to run a profitable business that will allow us to have a Rugby Club. Without the business side of SRFC we wouldn't generate enough funding to turn the lights on let alone provide our tremendous facilities. Our current groundsman is saving us £££'s but the grounds are well overdue a large investment just to maintain the current standard. Our 30 year old clubhouse is constantly reminding us that we need to invest in updating and upgrading everywhere, we have a roof that probably needs replacing (sorry for the water stained tiles) and all this at a time when the RFU are looking to pull £13 million in funding from the grassroots game.
At times it can be a struggle to juggle the Club which is a £250k+ turnover business and your normal life - I work full time and have a young family - much like many of the members of the current board. Season 2 has been particularly challenging, unfortunately not in a good way. Issues, player behaviour and constant negativity (people always find the negative) got the better of me recently, to a point where I informed my fellow board members that I didn't feel I was the correct person for the job and offered my resignation from my role as chairman. Angie, Rony and the other board members have kindly agreed for me to have some time away from the club to reflect on my involvement going forward, I must admit that I have enjoyed having an extra 20+ hours at home with the family this last week (it recently got back to me that one of our members asked if I got paid ?, I can assure you that every hour I have ever put in to help run the club as a member of the EMB has been as a volunteer). I am half way through my sabbatical and have used this time to reflect on how the club is managed.

In 2017 we grew the EMB and added some roles, these were needed at the time. However we failed to evolve this over the closed season and stuck with the same set up this year, what we should have done in hindsight is learn from year one and how much of a resource drain the Business side of the club is on our Rugby focus and resource. Rocky, John and Pete did a great job of the senior set up last season after being given minor direction and allowing us to fix the sinking ship first. This was possibly my biggest error, sticking with the same set up for year 2 meant that again we were relying on Coaches and team managers to run the senior set up, manage budgets, change a poisonous environment, try to recruit and develop a player pathway. I failed to identify that without much needed change we would once again fight with business over rugby. Our current league standing and player engagement is quite possibly a direct result of these failings.
This is where I have been looking at evolving the current management structure, identifying 4 key areas to focus on and build teams (not individuals) to manage these areas. This separation will allow us to focus fully on Rugby (that is why we exist) and the business side of things. Removal of the cross channel involvement and having officers in place to oversee these areas and teams.

You may have seen that we have already started to make separations from the Business and Rugby aspects of the club by relaunching - giving the business its own identity.
In the coming weeks I'll be sitting down with the EMB and our Directors to discuss my vision/plan and hopefully with their input we will come up with a structure that is in the best interest of Staines Rugby.
The final part will then be to decide if I am the correct person to head up these changes or if I hand over to someone with the skills the club require.
Unfortunately Ian Callachan has stepped down as our Mini Rugby Manager, thankfully he has stayed on as Property Manager. Ian has done some great work in turning the Mini section around and building numbers and engagement along the way, I hope you will join me in thanking him for all his efforts and wish him all the best in the challenges of being the property manager. We now start the search for a new Rugby Manager for the section.
Volunteers and support are key for our club to survive, if you are in a position to give some time to help then please get in contact with anyone on the EMB or your team managers.
Sunday's Christmas fair shows what we can all do when we work together, thank you Angie, Laura, Heidi and everyone else who donated their time to make this event a success.


Updated 11:36 - 7 Dec 2018 by Jorrit Schrauwers

Where next?

SOME RUGBY MEMORIES Memoirs of a former Player, Chairman and President.


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Sat 17 Aug
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