ChairmanClubNewlands ParkThe Chairman’s August 2020 Update

26th August 2020

Dear All

COVID 19 still dominates conversations and our actions!!

We have lots of members and supporters very keen and enthusiastic to get back to “normal”. It is challenging to know how to progress matters, everyone seems to have their own take on the guidelines. However, I feel we have interpreted them correctly and safely. The Clubhouse is now open, with restrictions, please adhere to these and be patient, it is not easy and the committee and the staff are doing their best.

Rugby moved to stage C during the month and although a bit of a relief, senior players are getting a bit frustrated with lack of contact training and match preparation. The RFU’s new ready4rugby guidelines have been implemented and we were delighted to welcome the RFU and Gloucestershire Referees to our training recently, to assist the implementation of these new guidelines and provide a video for teaching purposes for other clubs to follow best practice.

We recently wrote to our County Body expressing some concerns about the welfare of the game and its player base. At the time of writing, our concerns seem to have been taken seriously and we have a delegation of RFU representatives attending a meeting at Newlands shortly (I will provide a summary of findings and discussions in due course).

Although restrictions still apply, we have been very busy during the month, “Dad’s army” has been very active and our President is providing some detail to the activities in our newsletter.

We were also delighted to witness at the County Referees virtual AGM on the Tuesday 18th August that we had been awarded the coveted Whistler Trophy, well done to all our members and committee for their efforts in welcoming referees to the club and the hospitality and camaraderie shown. Without referees, we have no game. It seems everyone is an expert, but very few have the courage to pick up a whistle and ensure we provide sport for 35+ men, women and children at every game. A few details of the criteria for selection and nomination of this award is provided by Roger Whitfield a former referee and our current Vice Chair

Just as you start to think progress is being made, something comes along to provide a major disruption. On Tuesday 4th August, late afternoon, we were “visited” by a group of Travellers, fortunately, the quick actions of Jack Patelo prevented more gaining access to the grounds and assistance by Nick Ralph and Elaine Coles limited the number of Caravans to Six.  For those that were on hand, many thanks for your support, it is a less than pleasant experience being threatened and abused, however 24-hour cover during the occupation kept the club safe and intact. A big thank you to Guy Dixon who stayed overnight with me on the 4th August and Tom Lait and Ben Hough on the 5th August, all to provide all-night security cover which I am sure minimised any potential damage to our facilities. Swift and decisive action was implemented by the club to secure our uninvited visitors removal, some 46.5 hours after arriving they were on their way and the club was clear again. A big thank you to the women’s and men’s players who came to the Club Thursday evening, 6th August to clear up. To put this into context, 6 caravans and associated vehicles, produced 22 bin bags of rubbish, some of it human waste!! (a couple of players took a wheelie l bin up to the encampment on Tuesday evening and asked politely that any rubbish could be placed in the bin, it was very disappointing and frustrating to see the bin completely empty after they had left!!) What would it have been like if all 35 caravans of this group had gained access and stayed for 7-10 days which seems normal from discussions we have had.

Also a big thank you to the Tewkesbury and Community Policing team who’s response was immediate and impressive at every call. Sadly, on these occasions, it seems their hands are tied and seem to have little authority. However, they maintained a professional and calm approach at all times.

To my knowledge, Droitwich Rugby Club, Gloucester All Blues, Cheltenham Civil Service, Swindon Supermarine have all had recent visits. Further afield, Wells and Taunton Rugby have had occupations over the last few months, costing many tens of thousands of pounds to resolve and clean up. My view is some national coordinated action needs to be taken to protect sports clubs, especially amateur clubs run by volunteers. We have submitted reports to the RFU and South West Rugby for some co-ordinated support and action. Watch this space!

Mini and junior teams, some have been training mid-week and some weekends for the last few weeks, others are returning soon. Sunday 6th September is our chosen formal start date, staggered start times will be published soon in accordance with the latest government and RFU guidance, all to ensure players and parents are kept safe and the return to train and play is enjoyed by all.

We will continue along these lines for the foreseeable future with the Clubhouse providing service to suit all our members.

As always if you are able to assist in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us at clubhouse@cheltenhamtigers.com

Kind regards

Steve

MEET CHELTENHAM TIGERS

We are a competitive rugby club - with our players competing at all levels from junior to senior and touch.