01/05/20 | General

The Need for Change! – Part 3

Author: Simon Plumb

Welcome to Part 3 in Lymm Rugby Club’s series on the future of ‘Paying Players.’

The rugby club has just been invited by the RFU to answer a series of questions around this thorny subject. Parts 1 and 2 of ‘The Need for Change!’ took a look at what two well know journalistic critics predicted would happen and they have been eerily accurate in their predictions. We go a little closer to home here with views from two senior members of Lymm Rugby Club, Neil Kelly President, and Jim Knowles, Honorary Life President.

Rugby – where a plumber scrums down with farmers and barristers.

Lymm Rugby Club is a members club that attracts a cross-section of ages, opinions and backgrounds. Perhaps it is also indicative of a sport where a plumber has always scrummed down with farmers and barristers.

Professionalism is out of the bottle and will not be going back, but in its place it is a great mechanism for promotion, for aspirations and exposure at the highest level. The same applies to a Formula One car but the reality is that very few will ever drive one or have the capability to do so. This does not mean motoring should not be an inclusive sport or pastime with the associated pleasures that accompany it, but do not expect features developed for the elite level to be replicated for, or suit, all.

As a product the game of rugby is being made poorer both in participation and as an entertainment spectacle at the higher levels. It is also under pressure for the increasingly sought after time and income of the young. Do not expect the young to be wise.

Leagues and competition can be healthy but we must all be wary of the cost of this competition, both from within a club, in terms of the resources required to fulfil 2nd, 3rd and 4th teams’ leagues, and external competition where the hard up youth can be attracted for a relatively small bounty.

Paying a player £50 or £100 a game will not change their lives or make them a better player, but who and what created that environment, and why?

Ultimately every individual and every club has a choice and a path they choose to follow. I truly believe at Lymm we achieve the correct balance, when the factors are within our control and all funds raised from our volunteers go straight back into the infrastructure.

The game, the RFU, the referees and the leagues are far from perfect but we have to work with what we have and try to make our club sustainable and attractive for current and future generations, so they can enjoy the friendships and values that undoubtedly exist within the game and our individual clubs.

Neil Kelly, Lymm RFC President

Rescuing the very soul of rugby

Many clubs use the success of their first team as the main measure of a club’s success, so the temptation to pay players is constant. On hearing of our M&J numbers and how many senior teams we have at Lymm, I’m met with embarrassed silence or floods of lame excuses from competitive clubs’ senior members. What defines success for a grass roots rugby club?

In a sense it’s about trying to rescue and retain the very soul of rugby. Too many clubs, and we can all name glaring examples, have sold their souls variously to local businessmen, an egotistical member or a dominant sponsor.

So far so good at Lymm but we should always be alert to these dangers. I think that it’s good to have ambitions and aspirations but let’s be sure they are the right ones and realistically achievable.

Jim Knowles, Honorary Life President


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