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Has anyone in this forum been involved in setting up a new club outside the heartlands? If so what happened; what were the easier aspects and what were the biggest challenges that you faced? 

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1 hour ago, Eddie said:

Has anyone in this forum been involved in setting up a new club outside the heartlands? If so what happened; what were the easier aspects and what were the biggest challenges that you faced? 

Pro or grassroots?

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Number 16 said:

Pro or grassroots?

I originally meant grassroots, but I’d be interested to hear about either mate 👍

Edited by Eddie
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Posted (edited)

How far from the heartlands? Depending on where just having teams to play against and enough matches to keep people interested is a difficulty.

Edited by Damien
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17 minutes ago, Damien said:

How far from the heartlands? Depending on where just having teams to play against and enough matches to keep people interested in is a difficulty.

Far enough where you can’t realistically play heartlands teams. 

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1 hour ago, Eddie said:

Has anyone in this forum been involved in setting up a new club outside the heartlands? If so what happened; what were the easier aspects and what were the biggest challenges that you faced? 

I did it in the early 1980's in South Wales. The club ran for 18 years but it's a long story, what do you want to know?

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1 hour ago, Eddie said:

Has anyone in this forum been involved in setting up a new club outside the heartlands? If so what happened; what were the easier aspects and what were the biggest challenges that you faced? 

I've not founded a club but I have been involved with a club outside of the heartlands (Nottingham Outlaws) for a decade, as a player, juniors coach, women's coach, men's coach and general committee member. Biggest challenges are probably the lack of familiarity with the game and the interaction with RU.

While in the heartlands teams obviously have their own recruitment challenges, you'd think a reasonable amount of players are people who watch RL in person or on TV and therefore seek out their local club. These people often don't exist for us.

In terms of the interaction with RU, we play a March - September RL season, and therefore the first couple of months you don't get any RU players unless they are people who see themselves as RL players first. However, as above, those RL first people are limited. The RU players may dip their toe in but getting them to that next level of buy in is difficult. 

9 minutes ago, Eddie said:

Far enough where you can’t realistically play heartlands teams. 

This doesn't apply to us but comes with it's own challenges. Our 1st Team are close enough to the heartlands that we play in Yorkshire Premier. Home games for us are always pretty competitive. Away games are always a fair journey - the closest team in our league is Doncaster but most are West Yorkshire with one in York and one in Hull. Away games can be competitive but massively impacted by availability. If we were to drop down in search of more local clubs, Yorkshire Division 5 would be a lot less travelling, but obviously that would be a move of 6 leagues down! 

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1 hour ago, fighting irish said:

I did it in the early 1980's in South Wales. The club ran for 18 years but it's a long story, what do you want to know?

Where you drew your players from (and how you attracted them to play), how you got sponsors involved, did you have any resistance from local RU? 

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Part of the Stoke Staffies who play our first ever game on Saturday - support from the RFL has been lacking.

Players mainly union with a handful of league players who have moved to Stoke for various reasons.

Our team manager has done a great job of getting sponsors - major struggle from RU as players wont train at another RU clubs grounds

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23 minutes ago, LK113 said:

Part of the Stoke Staffies who play our first ever game on Saturday - support from the RFL has been lacking.

Players mainly union with a handful of league players who have moved to Stoke for various reasons.

Our team manager has done a great job of getting sponsors - major struggle from RU as players wont train at another RU clubs grounds

As in there’s lads who are interested in training but won’t if it’s at a certain Union club because they play for someone else?? That’s bizarre. 

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11 minutes ago, Eddie said:

As in there’s lads who are interested in training but won’t if it’s at a certain Union club because they play for someone else?? That’s bizarre. 

Yeah - don't get me started on it! Union seems to be a totally different culture!

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Eddie said:

Where you drew your players from (and how you attracted them to play), how you got sponsors involved, did you have any resistance from local RU? 

As a young teenager, I was a member of a local (competitive) swimming club. The club naturally supplied players to the water polo and local surf lifesaving club, which is also a competitive sport (huge in Australia). By my early twenties I had started weight training (and boxing) in the local gym. I played Rara but was never satisfied with what the game provided for me. As an outside three-quarter I usually managed to get 3 passes per game and spent the rest of my time chasing no-hope kicks.

Purely by chance, I played Rugby League after meeting a RL enthusiast from Irlam (hornets) in Cardiff University. After my first game, I was hooked. I was confident that most of my friends would prefer it to RaRa too. I persuaded my brother, to help me create a RL club in our home town. I did most of the talking, he did most of the heavy lifting (administrative work).

We knew loads of fellas through the clubs mentioned above. So we had enough really fit lads, without needing Ra Ra players but I knew that there were 8 junior RU clubs in the town, all of which had fringe players, who were not getting a regular game (so were disenchanted with their clubs, and RU). I was confident we could persuade some of them to join us if we needed them.

I bought the kit out of my student grant, my brother wrote to hundreds of BARLA clubs asking them to consider touring (a weekend away trip) to Aberavon and we started training and coaching our mates how to play. I think we played somewhere between 12 and 18 games in our first season. The response from the BARLA clubs was encouraging and provided enough to keep everyone interested.

We had a base in a local pub/restaurant, that was owned by a pretty shrewd character and we did a deal with him, whereby we'd bring 40 odd people back to the pub (for a boozy afternoon) and he provided the (excellent) food free of charge. That was the easy bit.

We met opposition from a number of sources. Some were predictable some surprising. The local council tried to rescind our first ever permit (to play) on the local council field saying that it had been booked by a local RaRa club, but when I asked them what their permit number was (the numbers were sequential) it was obvious, that we had beaten them to it, so they had to back down. We had various letters from local RaRa clubs saying they had sent our names to the WRU (ha ha) and I remember we had a great letter from the then WRU secretary saying we would all be banned if an upcoming RL seven a side tournament took place because (listen to this) we had had the temerity to call the trophy ''The Jonathan Davies Cup'', which he explained instantly ''professionalised'' all the players. We informed the local press who 'thankfully' could see the absurdity of his accusation and the resulting piece alleging hypocrisy (it was common knowledge that RaRa players were on boot money) caused some real embarrassment up at WRU HQ, They declined to comment.

We then realised that any attempt to prevent us from playing (by the WRU) was an opportunity we could use to shine the light on their loathsome (and fearful) underhand tactics. We marched on.

There were 3 university clubs in Wales, (all of whom we played) and a number of new amateur clubs sprang up after us, and provided some local opposition. We took the decision to approach the London league and apply for membership. To their credit they accepted us, each club taking on the burden of travelling to Wales once a season, while we in turn had to go to London 12 times, I think. Once we had committed, to the London League I was adamant we wouldn't let them down. So we devised a policy compelling the selectors to select first, players that were willing to travel away (helping us to fulfill our commitments) and playing ability was only considered once we had more than 17 players available to travel. (I believe this document was a vital part of our ability to keep the club together). We usually took around 20 players away. The league allowed us to play as many subs as we carried, to ensure they all felt they had a fair crack of the whip(share of the playing opportunities).

Other than the pub landlord/hotelier I mentioned earlier, we had no sponsors. All the money we needed was raised through the clubs monthly lottery (collected by standing order) and Friday night ''chook'' (chicken) raffles. We also ran a local nightclub door (we provided the muscle) on a profit sharing basis. There's a lot more to it obviously but that's the bare bones of how we made it work. It was the best time of our lives. Most of the players, though far flung, are still in touch through whatsapp, etc.

I met Bob Brown the founder of Hemel Hempstead RL club and he told me (that because of the games inherent quality) he believed he could create a RL club anywhere in the world, where there was a reasonable chance of some opposition to play against. It was like meeting a soul-mate. I think the man deserves a knighthood. 

Edited by fighting irish
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57 minutes ago, LK113 said:

Part of the Stoke Staffies who play our first ever game on Saturday - support from the RFL has been lacking.

Players mainly union with a handful of league players who have moved to Stoke for various reasons.

Our team manager has done a great job of getting sponsors - major struggle from RU as players wont train at another RU clubs grounds

Look elsewhere for your players.

There are loads of fit athletic lads out there. Talk to them, invite them to train, teach them to play and enjoy it.

One other piece of advice I'd give you is to consider a selection policy like the one I've briefly referred to in my post above. It puts long term survival and success over short term playing results, by being loyal to the players that are loyal to you. Don't (whatever you do) fall into the trap of being seduced by ''fly by night, fly 'arfs'' who only want to play at home or when the RaRa are not playing and won't contribute (financially) to the clubs outgoings.

I believe, it was absolutely key to our ability to run the club for 18 years. 

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5 minutes ago, fighting irish said:

I usually managed to get 3 passes per game

BH you were priviledged! Per Game I used to get that many per season playing K&C!

7 minutes ago, fighting irish said:

I think the man deserves a knighthood. 

He's a TGG legend he's no chance of the New Years Honours!

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I'll only give one piece of advice for a new club. Do what you say you are going to do so don't over promise and under deliver. Players, fans, and sponsors need to know you are not all talk. Plenty of clubs have fallen by the wayside due to talking themselves up as the best thing ever but not doing the basics right. 

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56 minutes ago, OriginalMrC said:

I'll only give one piece of advice for a new club. Do what you say you are going to do so don't over promise and under deliver. Players, fans, and sponsors need to know you are not all talk. Plenty of clubs have fallen by the wayside due to talking themselves up as the best thing ever but not doing the basics right. 

I think this is really important, especially with clubs that you want to play against.

I know loads of club coaches/admins who will tell opponents that, sure, we can get a team out for <insert date> when really it's touch-and-go. When you then let folk down on the Thursday before the game, they remember. I've been both sinner and sinned against in this regard. 

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1 hour ago, fighting irish said:

Look elsewhere for your players.

There are loads of fit athletic lads out there. Talk to them, invite them to train, teach them to play and enjoy it.

...

This is also true IMO. 

RU players will join, think they already understand 'rugby' and will be harder to coach than someone who is a good all-round sportsman/woman but a blank canvas in terms of RL. We've picked up some decent juniors this year from non-rugby backgrounds and they are sponges in training and develop really quickly. 

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I have been involved with a club from day 1 and from amatuer to pro

The best piece of advice I was given was 

"Make sure you have a strong committee, players will come and go. Some seasons will be better than others but as long as you have a strong committee  the club will go on".

I would add......

Get plenty of willing horse volunteers and don't over burden them

Don't rely players to do very much other than play.

If your club is not in the heartlands you will need a union club to help you. You will find there will be antipathy ( bordering on hatred) by some members of the Union club. Remember you are there to be a cash cow and will be tolerated so long as you are bringing in some readies.

Try not to rely on union players.They will only see you as a way to keep fit over the summer and will leave you as soon union and its money comes calling.

If you need any specific advice pm me.

 

 

 

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Ron Banks

Midlands Hurricanes and Barrow

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Can only talk about junior rugby league, but I have been involved in the foundation and development of clubs in Brentwood and Bassetlaw. 

The reason I only have experience of junior RL is that it is one of the fundamental principles that I have used to grow a club in the non-heartlands. My top tips for this are:

1. You are a rugby league club, not a poor neighbour of any other sports club. Build the club around people who want to be rugby league players, not those who might turn up every now and again when they've got nothing else to do. Sometimes that means that winning games is difficult, so don't judge your success solely by the scoreboard.

2. Get into the schools wherever and whenever you can

3. Don't try to run before you can walk. Do it right, over time and you will have a conveyer belt of rugby league players coming through to the senior ranks

4. Be prepared to help other clubs who might be setting out locally. They are your lifeline when it comes to fixtures. Again, the scoreboard is not the defining criteria of success when you play these teams, rather, whether they want to play against you again!

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Bearman said:

I have been involved with a club from day 1 and from amatuer to pro

The best piece of advice I was given was 

"Make sure you have a strong committee, players will come and go. Some seasons will be better than others but as long as you have a strong committee  the club will go on".

I would add......

Get plenty of willing horse volunteers and don't over burden them

Don't rely players to do very much other than play.

If your club is not in the heartlands you will need a union club to help you. You will find there will be antipathy ( bordering on hatred) by some members of the Union club. Remember you are there to be a cash cow and will be tolerated so long as you are bringing in some readies.

Try not to rely on union players.They will only see you as a way to keep fit over the summer and will leave you as soon union and its money comes calling.

If you need any specific advice pm me.

 

 

 

I like your post but I have to disagree with your apparent insistence that ''you will need a Union club to help you''!

This is the polar opposite of my own experience and if this is a core tenet of your advice, I'm afraid you are making a big mistake. Readers should think very carefully, before taking that piece of ''advice''.

I would advise you (they) create a relationship with an independent pub/restaurant to provide you with the after-match facilities you will need and find a local (ideally local council) playing field. Indeed Bob Brown advised leasing or even building your own clubhouse and selling your own beer (when you are ready).

Relying on an ambivalent RaRa club is, in my opinion a fatal flaw, in that it sets you up from the very start, as a dependent minor entity, always the poor relation and constantly at risk of being evicted if the mood changes at the RaRa club.

Their ''favour'' is more likely to keep you retarded (as a business entity) impairing your development to fully independent maturity.

God forbid, you should become more popular (amongst your shared players,) than the RaRa club you have shackled yourself to.

Then you'll see their ambivalence was merely a thin veil for the rabid, lurid, unbridled hatred lurking behind it and you'll be looking for a new landlord anyway.  

Edited by fighting irish
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16 minutes ago, Northern Eel said:

Can only talk about junior rugby league, but I have been involved in the foundation and development of clubs in Brentwood and Bassetlaw. 

The reason I only have experience of junior RL is that it is one of the fundamental principles that I have used to grow a club in the non-heartlands. My top tips for this are:

1. You are a rugby league club, not a poor neighbour of any other sports club. Build the club around people who want to be rugby league players, not those who might turn up every now and again when they've got nothing else to do. Sometimes that means that winning games is difficult, so don't judge your success solely by the scoreboard.

2. Get into the schools wherever and whenever you can

3. Don't try to run before you can walk. Do it right, over time and you will have a conveyer belt of rugby league players coming through to the senior ranks

4. Be prepared to help other clubs who might be setting out locally. They are your lifeline when it comes to fixtures. Again, the scoreboard is not the defining criteria of success when you play these teams, rather, whether they want to play against you again!

Excellent advice. 

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8 hours ago, Eddie said:

Has anyone in this forum been involved in setting up a new club outside the heartlands? If so what happened; what were the easier aspects and what were the biggest challenges that you faced? 

I'm really glad, you asked this question.

I've long advocated that the RFL should collate this kind of advice and publish it in a ''how-to'' guide for young entrepreneurial types who want to create new Rugby League clubs.

There doesn't seem to be any impulse to do that at RLHQ, so perhaps we should/could do it ourselves Eddie?

Let's hope we get many more contributors and we can think on. 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, fighting irish said:

...

I've long advocated that the RFL should collate this kind of advice and publish it in a ''how-to'' guide for young entrepreneurial types who want to create new Rugby League clubs.

...

Not aimed entirely at new clubs but see https://www.rugby-league.com/get-involved/club-support and https://www.rugby-league.com/get-involved/club-support/best-practice-guides

Edited by Archie Gordon
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10 hours ago, Eddie said:

Has anyone in this forum been involved in setting up a new club outside the heartlands? If so what happened; what were the easier aspects and what were the biggest challenges that you faced? 

How long have you got?

I didn't set it up but kept it going when all they had was a coach. Went from heartbreak to ecstacy and back again but overall the trend has been up.

Joined the Yorkshire League this year 😃

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2 hours ago, fighting irish said:

I like your post but I have to disagree with your apparent insistence that ''you will need a Union club to help you''!

This is the polar opposite of my own experience and if this is a core tenet of your advice, I'm afraid you are making a big mistake. Readers should think very carefully, before taking that piece of ''advice''.

I would advise you (they) create a relationship with an independent pub/restaurant to provide you with the after-match facilities you will need and find a local (ideally local council) playing field. Indeed Bob Brown advised leasing or even building your own clubhouse and selling your own beer (when you are ready).

Relying on an ambivalent RaRa club is, in my opinion a fatal flaw, in that it sets you up from the very start, as a dependent minor entity, always the poor relation and constantly at risk of being evicted if the mood changes at the RaRa club.

Their ''favour'' is more likely to keep you retarded (as a business entity) impairing your development to fully independent maturity.

God forbid, you should become more popular (amongst your shared players,) than the RaRa club you have shackled yourself to.

Then you'll see their ambivalence was merely a thin veil for the rabid, lurid, unbridled hatred lurking behind it and you'll be looking for a new landlord anyway.  

Yes, good points.

The problem we had the only piches we could get access to  were union  clubs.

The council would not help us to use any of their piches as they were reserved for soccer.

In fact after about 14 years I found out that a local comprehensive school was losing a patch of ground and two sets of rugby posts. I contacted the school who told me the posts were not theirs but belonged to the council. I contacted the council and they said they were not theirs but the schools. I then wrote to both the party's and told them I was going to move them and could they both reply to say that they were not concerned. Which they did.

I then tried to get the posts out but the uprights were buried in oil drums and filled with concrete.

I was stumped until the council grass cutters said " leave it to us. They dug them out for us.

I then went to a new council sports facility and offered to give them a set of Rugby posts provided we could have first use of the big grassed area they were not using they were delighted.

I then contacted some council lighting depot lads who were renewing some lamp posts in my street. I asked them if they would move the posts across the city. Fortunately one of them just happened to play for us.

We still play there.

But it took us years to find that patch of usable bit of grass.

 

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Ron Banks

Midlands Hurricanes and Barrow

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