News

AGM Debrief – A Word from the Directors

15th July 2022

Dear Partner,

As Chairman of the Directors of Newton Abbot Rugby Club I am writing to you to thank you all for your contribution, or your interest in the club. I apologise for the generic nature of my letter.

We had our Annual General Meeting on 12th July, and I am delighted to say the members voted to support the senior management of the club and wish for us to continue.

I want to share with you the philosophy of the club and tell you what we have achieved for our members recently, our plans for the next 12 months and for the longer term.

The financial pressure of COVID has led to us making a significant change to the culture and philosophy within the club. We had no option but to stop paying any players, we also needed to pool all the club accounts into a central account. This meant we started to operate as one club, with a top to bottom single approach. This was a huge move which concerned many of our members. To help this move we involved all the team coaches and adopted a #oneclub #onecommunity approach in all club matters. There appear to have been clear benefits. From the under 5/6 teams to our senior teams everyone is playing in the same kit. In the past it has been a challenge to retain players moving from colts to seniors. Under this new philosophy we are combining the training of the younger ladies and men’s teams with the senior teams to help younger players enjoy a smooth transition to the senior game.

Both on and off the field community is at the heart of everything we do. I love the saying that it takes a whole village to bring up a child, and a Rugby club in my view can be a real part of that. Not only do we provide a safe and inclusive space where all our members are welcome, but under the watchful of our team coaches the club will give them guidance on standards on and off the pitch that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. With 130,000 people within 12 miles of the club, 35,000 within walking distance and further 15,000 homes planned, the club is the perfect venue for events other than rugby.

These include Andy Mans Club, Active Devon, Devon County Council Families Early Help Group, The Free School Meals Initiative, RFU Families Fund, Hosting coaching for Local Scouts Sports Badges, School Holiday Sports Clubs, and many others.

The club provides the venue for the local business chamber to hold their popular monthly member meetings. It is surprising the amount of business and networking that is done over a pint at the end of the day.

Outside of the philosophy of the club during COVID we have made several improvements, a lot of these are not immediately visible to visitors but these all help “make the boat go faster”, this includes removal of dangerous trees, better access for emergency vehicles, a new Tannoy system, a larger electrics supply, better drainage, investment in pitches, and a new tills system. Our largest investments however have been in new grounds care machinery, extra car parking and a new 460-seater marquee.

Works continue, with a new toilet block, enlarged new kitchens (operated by Pizza Café), new website, landscaping and moving and refitting of “Jacks Bar” all targeted to be complete before the start of next season.

Longer term, we currently lease the pitches, there is just 6 years left on this lease and now the focus is to secure the freehold so we can invest further. The income we can generate from the new hospitality space will hopefully make this possible. With either a long lease or the freehold in place we can look to the future, and we are already working on some exciting new plans to include a new club house, and all-weather pitch.

The next season should be exceptional Newton Abbot Rugby Club was founded in 1873. Can you imagine the party we are going to have next year as we celebrate our 150-year history? The club has an “1873 club” which club members can join, there will be an obvious focus on this birthday next year.

It is great to be playing rugby again and the club had a successful season, with entertaining rugby at all levels, our Seniors won the immediate Devon Cup in a thrilling hard-fought battle against Kingsbridge. The reorganisation of clubs in the South West means we are going to be playing against tougher opposition and have in effect been promoted. There were other successes at all levels throughout the club, the excellent performances from both our boys’ and girls’ junior teams put the club in a strong position as we look ahead to next season.

As we have increased the size and scope of the club, we have become very reliant on monthly reoccurring payments and contributions from our partners. This is the lifeblood of the club, it is what makes the wheels go round, but we would do nothing if it was not for the volunteers and helpers who selflessly are contributing towards the vision of the club. Our management team are largely made up of people who are experienced in running business and giving value to their customers. We strive to ensure that every year we give more value to our members and our community, and we realise that this would not be possible without the support of everyone involved with the club.

To reflect the importance of your support to the club, we have decided to restructure how we manage the relationship with all our partners. We thank Jess for the work she has done on this in the last year. But with immediate effect Mike Saxton (Director of Rugby) and myself (see below) will now be your primary contacts.

Mike has done a huge amount of work over the last couple of years and has an amazing list of contacts in the world of Rugby and business. He runs Western Towing in Newton Abbot when he is not at the Rugby Club, you are likely to find him on the pitches either on a tractor or coaching. Many of you will know him personally, but any issues or opportunities his mail is partnerships@narfc.co.uk

You can always find me at charles@westawaysausages.com (my club email is not valid), unlike Mike, you will find me watching the games, or in the bar. My memory is appalling so please bear with me, but I really love to hear what you like and what you don’t like about being part of the club, so please make contact. I hope to quickly get all our supporters on to a database so I can send out a regular newsletter to ensure you are all aware of the match and events calendar plus any news from the club.

In summary, we are now showing what is possible for the club, and how important sports clubs can be to the communities they serve. We know this would not be possible without the volunteers that step forward and the support that all our partners give to the club.

Yours sincerely

Signature

Charles Baughan

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