I would like to start this report with a tribute to our President Phil Bradshaw, who passed away after a courageous four-year battle with cancer, on the night of the Club Annual Dinner, May 21 2016.
As most members will know, Phil was ever present at the Club since he started playing in 1972, and in a world that probably has more takers than givers, he gave himself to the Club for over 40 years, as Treasurer, Sevens Organizer, Field Steward and President.
We are very grateful to Phil and send our love and prayers to Tina, John, Jane and the boys; his passing will leave a great void in many lives.
With perfect symmetry, Phil’s last game was the tense Play-Off against London Cornish, which secured promotion in some style for the 1st XV, so he certainly left us with a great big smile!
I should like to personally thank the Management Team for their dedication to running the Club creatively, innovatively, yet always prudently and with respect to our members and opponents- they are some team.
Members who have volunteered to do a job know that you have no idea how much time people give to the Club until you put your hand up and get involved, so please think about what you could do, rather than what ‘they ought to do’.
Financially we continue to be in good shape under John Wilkinson’s watchful eye; we have continued to invest in the Club infrastructure, particularly the surrounds to the 1st XV pitch, generously sponsored and executed by The O’Keefe Group, training equipment, new posts (provided by the Council) and the widening of the cabbage patch (!).
The Children’s Workshop, a nursery which has been our tenant for many years, is moving into its new purpose-built home in Lady Boswells school this summer, so we are planning to replace this vital income with a new enterprise run by our Clubhouse Manager, Diane Carey, called The Soft Play Café, launching in the Autumn, of which more detail later.
Nick Wilkinson, our Rugby Development Officer, now has a team of coaches helping him preach the gospel in local primary and secondary schools, and is much in demand, as evidenced by the turnout at both SRFC Primary Schools Tag Festival and the Saracens Summer Camp.
We see this as both our duty to help under-resourced local schools and as a natural source of new talent for our juniors.
I think it is safe to say that the relocation of the 1st XV pitch next to the new Bradshaw-Pearl Balcony (and bar!) has been an unqualified success, the drainage has already improved and the playing surface should be considerably better for next season with additional top dressing and channel remediation.
Although a year has passed since my last report, to be perfectly honest I cannot claim much progress on the 3G pitch project which I am still working on with our landlords Sevenoaks Town Council. It has been a year of consultation with all and sundry and discussion within the Council, but with patience, the idea is still very much alive.
Our main sponsor, Savills, has continued to give us the ability to provide first class equipment and facilities to our players of all ages, and we are very grateful that they will continue for a third year.
Please remember that Savills will pay the club £500 for every house sales instruction from members and their families, and I am delighted to say that last year four such referrals were completed, resulting in an extra £2,000 for the club and an estimated £50,000 of fee income generated for our sponsor, a genuinely commercial partnership.
Thanks to further grant funding from the Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust, we hope to continue investment in 2016/17 to include relocating the club shop and gents toilets to accommodate an injury rehabilitation suite and small gym. The players will need to be fit in division one.
However we will need to continue to concentrate on increasing sponsorship and other sources of income to ensure that all of the planned improvements are affordable (where grant is not available) and can therefore be undertaken.
We continue to welcome new members from overseas, all of whom are qualified coaches, and encourage a valuable Southern hemisphere perspective on all matters rugby, including beer-pong and kiwi DJ-ing.
This year’s crop, Kelly Anderson (NZ), Tino Vaihu (NZ), Isaac Winter (NZ) and Dan Power (AUS) have not only been good sporting performers, but also great guys, coaching juniors and seniors at the club, and in their spare time turning our for the 1st XV- thanks guys!
On the website there is a comprehensive and very personal journal covering last season’s playing achievements and further reflections from Director of Rugby Roger McKerlie, so I won’t presume to cover playing matters in this report.
Suffice to say it has been a fantastic year on the field for our club, culminating in promotion of the 1st XV to London Division 1 South, The Acorns and Tonya’s rugby girls are Kent champions and the juniors have once again swept the board of trophies.
It will be challenging to stick to our strictly amateur policy when surrounded by financial incentives of other clubs in the higher division, but we are determined to set out our store as a genuine Community Rugby Club with ambitious playing targets, in which everyone is as important as the 1st XV, in the sincere belief that the world has not gone completely mercenary.
We are extremely grateful to outgoing Club Captain Ollie Robinson and Coach Danny Vaughan, who have both called time on illustrious Sevenoaks careers.
With confident anticipation we welcome Stuart Coleman, who I know has great pride in following his legendary dad Larry into the role of Club Captain, and Adam Bowman as our inspirational new Head Coach.
Let’s briefly glance into this brave new world…
Coaching at Sevenoaks – My Vision for the future
After a successful eight-year period as Academy Head Coach, I am honoured to have the opportunity to take over as the Senior Head Coach of Sevenoaks Rugby and to build on the strong foundations that are already in place. The role of Senior Head Coach will cover a wider remit than previously before, with responsibility for providing coaching leadership across the Seniors (1’s & 2’s), Academy, and juniors.
A big part of my role of course is the Senior Squad, but another very important part of my role is to work with the other club coaches across the Juniors & Academy to ensure we are providing our players with the very best learning environment, as well as driving a consistent playing framework across the whole club. I am thoroughly looking forward to working with all the coaches and players across the club.
Work has not stopped during the off season as we continue to improve what we do, and how we do it – from creating and driving the right culture in the squad, to creating a new coaching & management structure that caters for the whole Senior Squad (1’s & 2’s) & Academy Squad, player recruitment, developing our S&C offering, new kit, pre season fixtures, training session plans, to the detailed playing framework we will be adopting.
The biggest improvement is the “Senior Squad” (1’s & 2’s), creating a competitive and collaborative environment across the seniors where all players are coached, and all players are battling for a 1st XV shirt.
One of the other key areas of development has been the assembly of a new and wider
Coaching and management team. I am pleased to be supported in the coaching department by three senior coaches – Matt Bates, Ian Collins and Mark Reay, with Mike Walton becoming Squad Manager and Bill Belither, Team Manager.
This team, under my stewardship, will support me in the coaching and management of the Senior Squad. In addition to this, I am delighted to welcome Stuart Coleman as 1st XV Captain. Stuart is a Mighty Oaks man through and through, and has risen through the ranks from the minis, academy and has been an outstanding servant and player for the Senior teams for 10 years.
As the Senior squad take on the challenge of London 1 South rugby, it is imperative that we have the support team in place to ensure that when Saturday afternoon arrives, they are in the best shape possible to represent the Club.
This has meant that we have widened our network in the medical and strength and conditioning area, with Head Physio Jess Rugg being supported by Harry Holder, and Jonny Short returning to the Club to work alongside Connor Browne.
I am delighted that John Rugg will become Academy Head Coach and Jon Muchmore the new Development Manager. Both have worked tirelessly for this Club for a number of years, Ruggy in the Junior and Academy age group section, while Muchy has overseen the 1st Team for the past five seasons, and has played a crucial role in the development of over 30 players from the junior section to Senior level.
We are hoping to ensure that the support foundations within the Club are as solid as they can be. The aim is for this to flow through the age groups and create an environment that ensures the transition from youth to senior squad is one that our juniors and minis are keen to make.
Bring it on!
Well said Adam!
The Club’s sincere thanks go to every single volunteer who makes it all possible, and as usual you are all welcome to the delightfully informal Chairman’s Drinks on a date in early September TBA, when we will help Colin decide which beers to stock for the season!
It is always dangerous to pick out names, but some put in so much effort that they just have to be recognized, so thank-you in no particular order to:
Derek Arnold, Pip Woolacott, John Henley, Peter and Bob Hunt, Howard and Robert Pearl, Gerry Diebel, Alan Crane, Iain Lindsay, Paul Vizard, Lee and Hils Adamson, The Field Stewards, Pete Wilson, Ian Collins, Mike Walton, Chris Birch, Malcolm McCulloch, Rob Bowyer, Nigel Featherstone, Tonya Williams, Bumble, Willy Pickance, Andy Clarke, Patrick O’Keefe, Bomber Harris, and every single junior coach and parent!
There is no point in doing this if it isn’t fun, and for me, it is mostly deeply enjoyable and rewarding.
See you all next season,
Yours in Rugby Football