NORTH WEST RUGBY UNION INTERMEDIATE LEAGUES.
Supported by University of Salford
Minutes of meeting held at Liverpool St. Helens 3rd December 2011.
This meeting held in conjunction with members of Lancashire RFU C. B.
NOWIRUL Members attending: Peter Rhodes (President), Fred. Swarbrick (Chairman),
Reg. Robinson (Secretary), John Powell (Treasurer), Howard Hughes, Jon Daldry, Greg King,
Lancashire C.B Members attending: Ken. Andrews, Matt Downs, Tony Hayley, Tom Fitzgerald,
Dave Herriman, Bill Chappell, Ken Jones, Rob Briers, Cliff Barker, Bob Grant, Keith Mellaleiu.
Meeting opened 18.00 hrs.
The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and stating that this meeting had been
called at the request of the NOWIRUL committee and asking their chairman, Fred Swarbrick, to
state his case.
Fred responded by saying that the NOWIRUL committee had felt under pressure recently from the
C.B.’s of Lancashire, Cumbria and Cheshire as certain clubs had made representations to them
regarding the running of the UoS leagues. He felt that NOWIRUL was running a good league
system which was probably the most successful in the country and – indeed – is held by many as
the blueprint of how to do it. He was disappointed that the funds due from the RFU had not been
forthcoming and understood that this had been blocked by the C.B.’s concerned and would like an
explanation for this. It was true that certain parties had wanted to install a “Governance Committee”
to oversee matters but this had been rejected unanimously by the NOWIRUL committee but they
had agreed – also unanimously – to allow a representative from the C. B.’s to sit on the Committee
with full voting rights.
The chairman replied that it is the job of the C.B.’s to represent the clubs interests and therefore
representation on any committee running rugby union competitions is essential.
Dave Herriman said that funding had only recently become an issue but the underlying problems
had been apparent longer than that.
Fred said that this season only Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria had agreed amongst themselves
not to sign off the request for payment.
John Powell said that for the past 9 years he had asked the authorities who should sign off the
request but Twickenham had agreed that this was not necessary and funding had been received on
It appears that Chris Burns has now decided that signing off is required and that it should be carried
out by Lancashire as the senior county involved. This can be quite a lengthy process as NOWIRUL
operate 14 leagues and each one has to be treated as a separate entity.
NOWIRUL now accept the need for signing off so why have Lancashire failed to do so.
Dave Herriman said that some clubs have complaints that they feel are not being addressed. In the
main some lower teams feel that they have to travel too far to fulfil away fixtures. When asked to
name those clubs he mentioned Wigan and Ruskin Park and struggled to think of any more although
it is possible that Leigh and Widnes may also have concerns. Even so this is a very small percentage
of the member clubs, the vast majority of whom are perfectly happy.
Cliff Barker tried to assist by reeling off a list of conceded game all involving away fixtures at
Cumbrian clubs. On closer inspection it was realized that these fixtures were all in the very early part
of the season and travel was not the issue in these concedes. It was pointed out that there are other
matters much more likely to lead to a game not being played, the main one being player availability
due to cricket, holidays etc.
Once again the discussion turned to the problem of Cumbrian clubs in NOWIRUL which means that
other Cumbrian clubs have great difficulty arranging fixtures. Reg. Robinson made it perfectly clear
that NOWIRUL had never set out to recruit Cumbrian teams as it was felt that this would lead to
travel problems. However the more go ahead clubs had persistently applied to join the leagues as they
were seeking a level of regular competition that they could not find in Cumbria. Indeed Upper Eden 2
had applied for 3 seasons consecutively before acceptance. Millom 2 also had applied more than once
and it is understood that such is the success of their acceptance that Millom1 might also apply for
membership. Also the Furness club had stated unequivocally that, but for the membership in the UoS
leagues their club would almost certainly have folded.
Having heard the various dispositions by those present it was agreed by the Lancashire C.B. that it
would be reasonable for the UoS leagues funds to be signed off as Peter Rhodes was fairly certain
that Cheshire RFU C.B. would agree, but Cumbria needed to be consulted.
The Chairman said that he had heard that the Cumbria RFU C.B. were a little disappointed that
NOWIRUL had not tried to arrange a meeting with them. Fred. and Reg. both said they would be very
happy to do so and would make the arrangements the very next day.
The question of representation on the NOWIRUL committee was next discussed. Reg. reminded
Lancashire that at the last meeting a unanimous vote had been taken to allow a representative from the
counties to sit in with full voting rights. Dave Herriman insisted that he had been told that this had been
rejected. Somehow a misunderstanding had happened here and he was assured that the additional
member from the counties would be welcome. Some of the Lancashire members felt that this might not
be enough and perhaps Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria should be represented. After hasty consultation
members from NOWIRUL agreed to accept 3 new members, one from each county. NOWIRUL could, if
it wished, send a representative to county meetings in return but with Peter Rhodes on the Cheshire
committee, Howard Hughes on the Lancashire committee and Craig Hine attending Cumbria meetings
this was deemed unnecessary.
It was noted that Twickenham had asked the various RDO’s around the country to conduct a survey
around the clubs to try and gauge opinion as to where Rugby is now, where it should go and how to get
there. It was decided that NOWIRUL would conduct its own survey within its member teams to gauge
opinions on similar matters. This would be completed before the end of December.
Peter Rhodes mentioned that the constitution of NOWIRUL would have to be changed to include the
additional members on the committee. This could only be done at an AGM so it was agreed that these
members should be regarded as co-opted members until constitutional change could be achieved.
Meeting closed 18.50