I am sure, like me, you are looking forward to this forthcoming season when we start with our first Middlesex Merit Table 3 match at Home on 18th September in after winning promotion in 2019/20.
We are in the process of arranging other matches so the provisional first period is:
September 4th – First XV Friendly – Venue tbc.
September 11th – Club/2nd XV Friendly – Home.
September 17th (Friday) – Vets vs Grasshoppers – Away.
September 18th – League match 1 – Home.
September 25th Tour = YES, I repeat short weekend Tour!
October 2nd – League match 2.
October 8th (Friday) – Vets vs London Welsh.
October 9th Middlesex Bowl match.
Everything is later and less clear cut as we come out of the pandemic but details will be made available as soon as they are confirmed.
Normally, I leave communication with players to Stu and focus my random Newsletter on past players and members as well as Winnie the Pooh fans. However, as this is an unusual year, coming after our Covid lay off and because we are raising the match fees to £10 per game, I thought I should write to current players directly. Match fees have not changed in decades so I thought I should explain how we came to our decision. (There will still be discounts for students and UB40 holders).
As you probably know, we are part of OI’s Association. What you may not be aware of, is that each section: Soccer, Cricket and Rugby, pay an annual lump sum to the Association for the upkeep of the Clubhouse and the grounds. We may take hot water in showers and bathrooms, cleaning, gas and electricity, Sky Sports on the TV, maintenance and upkeep, Council Tax as well as the ground contractor for the pitch and training areas for granted but these all have to be paid for. Fortunately, an astute Association Finance Committee, including our own Don aka Tony Winslade, have negotiated contracts with the Learning Tree Nursery for the Club House and local businesses for week day parking which help to cover these costs.
The Bar is also a critical part of the Club and, basically, the more money the bar makes, the less each sports section has to pay the Association. The Association paid over thirty thousand quid for the extension and renovation of the whole bar area just before Covid struck. The next project is likely to be re-wiring as the bar and club electrics are no longer fit for purpose. I would also like to say at this point what a great job Kim Rance is doing since she has taken over running the bar under the professional management of the Assoc Bar Committee Sec, Gary O’Connell. Overall, the Club Bar is a great asset and a major benefit of being a member of the Association.
Basically, the Annual Membership Subscriptions you pay as players, along with those old buggers like me who no longer play but keep up our membership, partly covers our payment to the Association. These Subs have not changed for many years but will not be increased, although there will be a drive to ensure everyone has signed and paid up.
However, we, as a Rugby Club, have our own expenses and for some years match fees have not covered these, which is why we are increasing them to a tenner. This is not a decision we have taken lightly and one of the reasons we have done this is because we are making our greatest ever investment this year in coaching. OIRFC are about social rugby but frankly, enjoying the game is a damned sight easier when you are playing well and winning. We need to be competitive in the new Merit Table and even look for promotion. We need to attract more players and re-energise current ones including rebuilding a second XV. This is why we have appointed Dave Samuel as our coach for the full season and hopefully beyond. There is a great vibe at the moment and I am genuinely excited about what we can achieve this season.
Apart from looking to build on the momentum of promotion and the positive response to training and friendship over the past year with a new coach-led focus there are still everyday costs we need to cover. From match balls and training kit, RFU and referee’s fees, from laundry bills to providing food for home matches there are expenses to cover. We have been fortunate and I would like to acknowledge the support of The Royal Oak for our First XV shirts for several years but we do need to up our game in terms of presentation. Dan setting up the link for stash is part of this. https://halbro.com/product-category/your-store/old-isleworthians-rfc/
Even with this increase we will not break this season unless we have a couple of fund raising events and will have to eat into our reserves. All in all I believe even with the increase in match day fee OIRFC represents great value for money. Apart from belonging to and playing with a great little club with a lively spirit and a decent and inexpensive bar (it must be the cheapest Moretti in London) there are other benefits you should remember to take advantage of.
- The Club has a ticket allocation for Twickenham Internationals that are available at cost to fully paid-up members by ballot.
- 13 Tickets for each of England vs Tonga (6th Nov) Australia (13th Nov) and South Africa (20th Nov) will be made available soon. o Six Nation ticket allocation should be announced shortly
- The Club House and Bar are available for hire at discounts, even no charge depending on the bar take, to members for birthdays and family events. We would encourage everyone to promote this to family and friends.
- The Club has unprecedented experience for a junior club of organising tours often with subsidies via sponsorship, auctions, legacies etc. The next short tour is weekend of 25th of September and we will be looking for a longer one at the end of the season.
- There is a whole range of old gits propping up the bar available at every home match to tell you how well it was done in the old days when rugby really was rugby. Contact the Chairman to book one.
So, coming out of Covid into a new Merit Table there are certainly plenty of questions about how Clubs will have managed during this period. In OIRFC there is a sense that recent strong attendance at training with our new coach, some positive social events and a new fit for purpose bar are signs that we could be ready for a strong year on and off the pitch. Can I count on your support to make this happen?
Tiny Richards, OIRFC Chairman