Surrey Rugby

Chairman’s Letter – June/July 2020

Chairman's Letter – June/July 2020

May I open by wishing you, your families and your friendship groups within rugby a healthy and enjoyable summer break. We are grateful to all those who have worked through the lockdown to support us by their efforts as key workers – most notably within the NHS but also in a variety of roles which we have come to appreciate more than ever.As you are possibly aware Surrey Rugby has been meeting (virtually) throughout lockdown to continue to oil the wheels of our game within the county. 
Although we are now at that point in the year when rugby would normally have passed the sporting baton to other sports, this is anything but a "normal" year. Many sports are faced with uncertainty about their immediate and medium-term prospects and we are no different. I thought a general catch up note could be useful however to reassure you that we continue to work behind the scenes to prepare for a return to playing whenever that may be.

News from the RFU
On 4th June 2020 the RFU published a roadmap of the potential pathway to return to play. An infographic is attached below; greater detail is available on the RFU website.Timescales are dependent upon both progress in controlling the virus and government guidelines regarding social distancing etc. 
It is clear however that we are only at stage B of a six-stage process and that stage E will be in force for at least 4 weeks – so resumption of full play is some way off.  The RFU have also just published (as of 27th June), adapted community competition plans for when we can return to play rugby, and these can be found on the website.The RFU has also published a Coaching Risk Assessment Template to support clubs with their return to play- again details available on the RFU website.

International Ticket Distribution
"As there is likely to be a dramatic reduction in the number of tickets available for each game, the RFU Council has taken the decision to introduce changes to the international ticket allocation process for the 2020/21 season.The allocation of tickets to align to a reduction in stadium capacity is a challenge as over half of ticket entitlements are normally reserved for RFU member clubs and the Game's other key stakeholders such as constituent bodies, referee societies and schools and colleges, with around 28,000 contracted to debenture holders, hospitality clients and sponsors.Given the unprecedented situation and the extreme financial pressure the RFU is consequently under, with an anticipated loss of £85m if the four planned Autumn Internationals are not played and in front of a full stadium, the RFU Council has agreed to temporarily suspend the current ticket distribution policy and entitlements and adopt an Income-Focused approach to focus on fulfilling contracted ticket groups, wherever possible, for the 20/21 season only.Once these groups have been serviced, the remaining ticket stock will be focused on RFU member clubs and the other key rugby stakeholders. It is anticipated that when a capacity of 50,000 is allowed, we will return to a proportionate allocation system."
The above extract is from a letter from Bill Sweeney CEO of the RFU following a decision by the RFU Council and is available in full on the RFU website. This could be very consequential to all clubs not only in provision of tickets to members but also in regard to commitments which may be in place with sponsors.
The situation is moving almost daily and we would advise that you closely monitor developments online as the RFU may be able to flex these arrangements as guidelines move. At the time of writing the exact dates and participants of these matches are not known to the public and we await further announcements from the RFU.

Paula Carter – RFU Board
We are delighted to announce that one of our two Surrey Representatives on the RFU Council -Paula Carter -has been appointed to the board of the RFU as a Non-Executive Director. A limited number of Council Representatives are proposed to the board for these positions and Paula's outstanding background not only in rugby but in a wide variety of senior executive positions fits her well to steer the overall direction of the game. Our heartiest congratulations!

Surrey Rugby Immediate Support Fund
As anticipated, many of our clubs have managed their resources outstandingly in these troubled times. Clubs have battened down the hatches, controlled costs, sought grants wherever possible and as necessary furloughed staff to optimise their cash control. This has been challenging and difficult – particularly for many loyal individuals who have seen their income severely compromised. We are sympathetic and grateful for all these efforts.Quite specifically only four clubs have to date applied for Immediate Support Fund.
It has been agreed between Surrey Rugby and the RFU that we will ring fence the funds available until December 2020 (subject to further review if the season is delayed) in order to help our clubs return to rugby - whenever that may be. Applications are still open, so please contact our Treasurer Bruno Plaskow if you have any questions.Discussions continue as to how we will support competitions, representative rugby etc - but of course we cannot be definitive in the absence of confirmed dates. We will labour to allocate our limited funds on an equitable basis and I hope to communicate this as soon as we have more definitive timescales.
In the interim we have committed funds to obtaining extensive online training and coaching sessions which we will make available free of charge to all clubs shortly. Please look out for more details coming from our Competitions Chair Tyrone Lawless who has secured this deal.

Surrey Awards Evening
Just as the RFU staged its first ever virtual AGM on 12th June (as we may be doing in September), Surrey Rugby was able to close off the 2019/20 season by staging our own Virtual Awards Evening on 27th May. Congratulations to all those who worked to make this a swift flowing success and in particular to all those clubs, teams and individuals who were recognised for their performance throughout the season. 
Our Presidential team has committed to visiting all award recipients in the course of next season to present the physical trophies and to allow the winners to bask in the glory of seeing their awards in front of their club mates. There may even be a chance for a celebratory drink or two! 
A special 'Thank You' also goes out to all the volunteers throughout the Clubs. We will be officially recognising the volunteers in further events throughout the year.

Surrey Office
The Surrey Office in Leatherhead has been closed throughout the lockdown. We are grateful to Jo Fisher, our Office Manager who has worked from home to keep things moving, whilst other colleagues have been furloughed.We will shortly be vacating our office facility and taking up a new facility which I look forward to announcing over the next few weeks. Our aim has been to continue to provide the excellent service to our clubs whilst controlling our standing costs to a minimum - essentially to direct more of our funds to supporting the organisation and playing of rugby.  

Opening of Clubhouses
Several Surrey clubs have suffered intrusion by groups of travellers during lockdown.We would advise all clubs to review their security arrangements against this eventuality – but also to consider the differing circumstances in which we are living as far as other security matters are concerned. Normally busy clubhouses are currently standing empty with little oversight; please consider whether you have secured external facilities and utilities (gas points, water taps etc) against vandalism, abuse or theft. The RFU have also issued guidance on re-opening of facilities

One of our committee members has also helpfully highlighted the need for clubs to consider the Health and Safety requirements regarding Legionella testing. This is not new but is particularly important in the current environment, especially with regarding to restarting water supplies and any air-conditioning.Here are some notes which may be helpful along with a H&SE notice regarding this·      
Both diseases affect the lungs·      
Risk groups are similar, older, immunosuppressed, with other underlying issues, respiratory issues etc·      
LD can also affect other organs, not sure if CV19 can or does·      
LD is a bacteria and CV19 is a virus·      
LD can be treated with antibiotics, CV19 cannot·      
Both can be contracted via water droplets or aerosols Of particular relevance to our clubs;·      
All buildings that have been closed for a period (14 days normally) should have some checks carried out in the form of sampling and/or and disinfection if they are already covered by a water hygiene scheme of control
OR if not they require a risk assessment.
All public facing buildings and some dwellings require this in any instance.·      
Furthermore, we just do not know who will come into our buildings, and here's the crucial link, if a susceptible person comes in, then catches LD or another disease from a waterborne pathogen at any point it's bad enough, but in the event we'd failed to do all possible to negate following CV19, well you can guess the potential consequences.·      
At many clubs, in normal times we use vast volumes of water, thus turnover is good and proliferation of microorganisms is potentially low.This is an important part of your Health and Safety management and will be of critical interest to all users of your facilities.

I regret that this note has rambled on covering such diverse topics but we feel it important to communicate as much as possible during lockdown.

As mentioned previously, our RDO George Maxwell (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is available to all Surrey Clubs to understand what is needed across the county, but if you have urgent or critical needs, please get in touch with George or Surrey Rugby as soon as possible. We have provided below a contact list of Surrey CB officers who are also very keen to discuss any challenges clubs may be facing:

John Pownall (Chairman) (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Nigel Heslop (President) (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Sue Gardner (Secretary) (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Bruno Plaskow (Treasurer) (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Tyrone Lawless (Interim Vice-Chair) (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Yours in rugby, 
John Pownall
Chairman Surrey Rugby
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