A patch of grass, a pumped-up ball and a group of players is all you need to play rugby, right? Sure. Those are certainly the seeds you need to plant interest in a new rugby club. But to cultivate a club and nurture its growth, you need a lot more.
The Cricklade Rugby Club in England knows a thing or two about growing rugby from the ground up. Founded in 1992, the young club was literally born over a beer in a bar. After an ad in the local paper received a very positive response, the new club was formed – initially with players still committed to other clubs. A decade would pass before Cricklade played on its own professionally prepared pitch. And that’s the way it was for years. A pitch and a lot of passion.
“Back when I first started, we didn’t have any facilities at all,” recalls Ian Thomson, Cricklade RFC Club Captain. “It was basically just a field.”
Then and now
That was then, this is now. In recent years, Cricklade has taken big strides, developing its facilities and partnering with the community to expand its offering.
“We’ve been quite ambitious with what we’ve tried to do.”Daniel Lloyd, Cricklade RFC Club Chairman
“We’ve been quite ambitious with what we’ve tried to do,” says Daniel Lloyd, Cricklade RFC Club Chairman. “We’ve actually got changing facilities, which we didn’t have – that was last season, so that was a big step forward for us as a club.”
The club is also working hard to foster the next generation of Cricklade players.
“We’ve also progressed in terms of the minis,” he says. “We didn’t have minis three seasons ago, and we started a partnership with a local school, which has been really, really successful.”
DHL Delivers Rugby
About two years ago Cricklade got an extra boost from DHL Delivers Rugby – a program the company kicked off a few years ago to support grassroots rugby clubs. Any club can register for a chance to receive a special delivery of rugby equipment.
“We found out about DHL Delivers Rugby by one of the players,” explains Lloyd. “They found it on social media and alerted us to it. We applied and we’re very lucky to be chosen as one of the winners, which was fantastic.”
“Like winning the lottery”Ian Thomson, Cricklade RFC Club Captain
The club received balls, goal post pads, and…ah…a trimmer?
That “might not sound like a big need,” says Lloyd. “But for us it was big in terms of upkeep for the pitch. So, it was a real benefit.”
The equipment was “like winning the lottery,” adds Club Captain Thomson.
The Saturday they took delivery was such a big moment, it made the local paper. “Company delivers the goods to rugby club” was the headline in the Wits and Gloucestershire Standard.
“The minis were training, and their faces were quite quizzical at first in terms of what was going on,” remembers Lloyd. “But a real positive reaction when […] they saw what was happening.”
Good hands are fundamental to the game of rugby. The principle is also fundamental to any rank and file club. Support from the community off the pitch is just as important as handling the ball on it.
“Equipment is key for us,” says Thomson. “Any donations like the DHL Delivers Rugby program – we massively appreciate stuff like that.”
“A lot’s gone on, and hopefully a lot more to come.”Ian Thomson, Cricklade RFC Club Captain
“Good Hands is a really good ethos to use, you know the ability to catch the ball and then pass the ball with a bit of care,” says Lloyd. “But equally I think from a wider club perspective having that right attitude as a club towards driving rugby forward and helping rugby grow.”
Rugby stories like Cricklade’s are being written every day around the world. And that’s why grassroots rugby is in good hands.
Cricklade RFC Club Chairman puts it best: “A lot’s gone on, and hopefully a lot more to come.”