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RESULT:Friday 13th March Newcastle Falcons 41 v 0 Bedford Blues League Championship

Open Letter From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Discussion started by Falcona , 18 February, 2020 15:39
Open Letter From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Falcona 18 February, 2020 15:39
For immediate release: Tuesday 18 February, 2020
Issued on behalf of Nottingham Rugby

Open Letter From Our Chairman

Is the RFU becoming a governing body for just the few?

Dear fellow rugby supporter

Having had the opportunity to digest what actually happened last week after receiving the letter from Bill Sweeney on Tuesday, I used my time on Sunday to do a trawl of the media, in an attempt to gain a better understanding of how the rugby community had reacted to the news of the RFU funding cuts to the Greene King IPA Championship.

In truth, I was overwhelmed. The majority of media coverage was extremally supportive, but it was the views of those from the grassroot rugby community, including those in the national leagues, that I found most inspiring. Yes, there was also positive support from those around the ‘elite game’, but it was the players, volunteers and supporters from ‘everyday rugby’ that caught my eye; and this is why I thought I had better share my latest views more widely.

All rugby clubs at some point in their life will need some support and Nottingham Rugby have not been immune to this. I have been at Nottingham now for 13 years and have seen us fighting legal battles down at Meadow Lane and having to save the club when our last owners came into financial difficulties back in 2014.

At that time, I decided that I would not let Nottingham Rugby fall from grace again and embarked upon getting Nottingham back on its feet, operating a sustainable model down at The Bay alongside our partner club on site, Nottingham Corsairs. At no time did I think that this would be easy. However, I did not expect our own governing body to pull the rug from underneath us!

I was one of those people in the room at Twickenham last Tuesday when Bill Sweeney delivered his ‘killer’ blow. Yes, the removal of 50% of our funding was devastating, but the real anger was borne through the manner that it was done. He sat there, cold, stone-faced and delivered his presentation, trying to justify the cuts on his obviously flawed reasons.

It felt like I was being made redundant and then being asked to watch a presentation on why I was being made redundant. Yes, I was angry, and emotions were running high, however, during the couple of hours that he was with us, I witnessed no emotion from Bill whatsoever and to me, it was obvious that this decision had been made many months ago. I do not particularly blame Conor O’Shea, as he has just arrived at the RFU and in truth probably knows very little on how the Championship clubs operate, or what benefits we deliver to the game of rugby.

Having now listened and read Bill’s further press statements, my opinion has not changed. In fact, I see someone who comes over very uncaring, particularly for a man in his position as CEO of OUR governing body. His explanation about the rationale for the cuts being that the Championship clubs had failed to meet “a set of objectives and deliverables”, is nothing more than a smokescreen and is in fact a diversion tactic to align himself and the RFU more with ‘Elite’ Rugby and the recent CVC investment.

Before he continues wielding the axe any further, perhaps Bill should examine what value the RFU have been getting from their £228m investment into PRL since 2016. In fact, it was only 18 months ago that funding in the community game was cut by 10% and this was explained as a cost saving exercise. Yet, just last week, Bill stated that the RFU financials “were now in a good place’’.

Nottingham, like many Championship clubs, still operates at a loss - albeit a much smaller one now. I, like I am sure every other shareholder throughout the game, invests personal money not to generate a return, but because I love the game and want to see rugby thrive, at every level. Only last month one of my businesses provided a donation to Melbourne Rugby Club to assist their junior teams on their annual rugby tour this coming April. Without financial support, no rugby club would exist, and we all need each other to survive.

Since Nottingham moved back to The Bay, the professional club infrastructure that we have developed and are continuing to develop, has helped Nottingham Corsairs amateur club. The amateur club benefits by running the clubhouse bar on our match days and we work together to ensure the best possible facility is available for players of all age and ability. I am sure many, if not all other clubs operate in a similar way. Without RFU financial support in the community game, this simply would not happen.

Like many others, Nottingham work closely with other local clubs and our constituent body. We host county finals days here at The Bay, including the recently announced junior events from u12s to u16s and we have started linking to a growing game in local state schools, hosting a new annual festival. Much media coverage has been made of local community outreach programmes, Nottingham’s stretches across the county and further afield, with our coaches helping children get exposure to the game of rugby from an age as early as just two or three; and our grounds team have assisted local clubs with preparing and maintaining their own pitches and facilities.

Local engagement also stretches to our partnership with Nottingham Trent University, where the rugby programme has enabled NTU to develop their rugby offer and be competitive at the top tier of the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) competition. It has also enabled their players to experience Championship league and cup rugby on a regular basis with Nottingham. I am aware of other Championship and National League clubs that have similar initiatives through Higher and Further Education.

And, just last week, one of our coaches and a fellow player, were called up to represent England U20s – I was under the impression from Bill that this pathway was failing?

Over the next few weeks, Nottingham Rugby along with the other Championship Clubs, will be investigating our options for the future, but for now, we should not forget where we have come from and the importance of grassroots rugby as a whole. Rugby starts and finishes in our local communities and relies on thousands of coaches, supporters, volunteers and staff to ensure the game is enjoyed by so many.

I have seen nothing over the last few days from anyone in the RFU acknowledging this. It has all been about “value for money”, or “return on investment”. What about the RFU’s responsibility for the game, for the players, the coaches, the supporters, the rugby community!?

I am sure this ‘corporate social responsibility’ already extends beyond the RFU, where those who invest in the game, do so, not for a return on investment, but in order to satisfy a personal or organisational obligation. They contribute because they care, about children playing, adults volunteering, a community thriving.

Rugby does not start with the elite. In fact, it starts in our schools and our local clubs. Is it not time that the RFU acknowledge this and remind themselves that the ‘RFU is not for the Few’?

Without community clubs and the National Leagues, the Championship would not survive and more importantly, neither would Twickenham. It’s the people in these clubs that support rugby, it’s these people that fill the stadium during internationals. Bill Sweeney may well need reminding of this when England host Ireland at the weekend.

I will be one of the thousands lucky enough to be there on Sunday, cheering on England and helping prop up the RFU coffers, but in truth, it will be all the people that support rugby in the community that I will be thinking of – that’s where rugby really begins. I will be showing my support and I hope the rest of the rugby community will too.

Before I head to Twickenham, I will be at The Bay, where Nottingham Rugby host Doncaster Knights on Friday in the cup. I will be leading the charge and showing our ‘supporters’ that we have not forgotten about them. At half-time, we will be standing and carrying out a two minutes applause, thanking everyone involved in rugby for keeping the game alive. Supporters, players, coaches, volunteers and the rest of the rugby community should not be forgotten, regardless of what club, or league we play in.

I urge all clubs to support this and I am aware that many other championship and national league clubs have already given their backing. So, please show your support at the weekend, regardless of when and what time you are playing, take a picture, share on social media and lets’ show that rugby is for the many and not the few.


Yours sincerely

Alistair Bow

Chairman, Nottingham Rugby

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19/02/2020 08:47 by Falcona.

Re: Open From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
ed.up.north 18 February, 2020 18:51
Thanks for sharing. I found this letter quite inspiring. What an outstanding show of leadership from a club Chairman.

Re: Open From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Leipziger 18 February, 2020 19:30
Fantastic letter, I don't know the full facts but the response from the Championship clubs has been scathing and understandably. The timing is terrible, surely the cuts could've been announced at the start of this season or delayed until the start of 2021/22, so clubs could prepare? Losses could be even worse if clubs have to cancel recently-agreed transfers, leading to them paying the players involved compensation, for something that isn't their fault. In a best case scenario, even if all clubs survive, how many will be able to maintain professional status?

And if anyone can find these "objectives and deliverables that we do not believe have been achieved", they'd be interesting to read.

"those who invest in the game, do so, not for a return on investment" Ironically that isn't the case in the Premiership anymore - CVC are in it solely for a return on investment, and any benefit to rugby (and certainly the England team) will be purely coincidental.

Sad times for rugby.

Re: Open From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Exiled Falcon 18 February, 2020 19:43
By not publishing their objectives that (allegedly) haven’t been met the RFU haven’t done themselves any favours, same with the timing. Not really sure why they can’t see that.

Re: Open From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Leipziger 18 February, 2020 20:08
Exiled Falcon
By not publishing their objectives that (allegedly) haven’t been met the RFU haven’t done themselves any favours, same with the timing. Not really sure why they can’t see that.

Either they need to get a new PR company, or those who made the decisions just don't care.

Re: Open From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Exiled Falcon 18 February, 2020 20:46
I would really hope it’s not the latter but you never know!

Re: Open From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Bedlington Lad 19 February, 2020 08:30
I have great sympathy for the Championship owners & club members & players, the RFU are not IMHO fit for purpose

Re: Open From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
trummy200 19 February, 2020 15:32
BL +1
Its the timing that stinks - after clubs have started recruiting for next year.
I hope one and all signs the petition!

Re: Open Letter From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
eebagum 19 February, 2020 17:03
I wonder-hopefully, there will be some sort of demonstration at Twickenham on Sunday.I think Will Carling got it right,

Re: Open Letter From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Exiled Falcon 19 February, 2020 19:27
I’m not really sure they’re unfit for purpose per se, but like other governing bodies are an easy target, the SRU are similar. However it is hard to defend them in this instance. If they were upfront regarding the alleged failed aims then although we may not agree with them at least we could see where they were coming from. The timing is pretty grim however.

Re: Open Letter From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Monkey1 19 February, 2020 19:48
The RFU may be perfectly correct in ending the extra payments at the end of the agreed term, I don't really have a problem with that, but the way it has been done is at best disgraceful, and at worst downright unfair to the clubs involved & very damaging to the game at a level that is quite important to the top tier. I would say the RFU have a responsibility to give at least 12 months notice such a significant change in financial support, and also to be open about the process with the clubs involved. If they have left it this late then that is entirely their fault and they should honour the payments for another season. That in my opinion is the correct thing to , whether they want to afford it or not.

Re: Open Letter From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Exiled Falcon 19 February, 2020 20:29
To be fair that’s pretty spot the bare minimum at least give notice before contracts / signings have been put in place for next season. I think they have been really poorly guided here and in this case it’s hard to to disagree with the stick they are receiving. The RFU are unfortunately never going to please everyone, however in this case they’ve managed to please no one.

Re: Open Letter From Alistair Bow Chairman, Nottingham Rugby
Bedlington Lad 20 February, 2020 09:59
linky A rethink from the RFU?

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