Members attending: Peter Rhodes (President), Fred. Swarbrick (Chairman), Reg. Robinson (Secretary), John Powell (Treasurer), Howard Hughes, Jon Daldry, Ian Cousins, Greg King, Craig Hine, Tony Ayin
Apologies for Absence: Andy Thompson
Meeting opened 19.30 hrs.
Fred Swarbrick welcomed all to the meeting and stated that the appeal by Lymm RUFC against their points deduction had now been heard with the decision going in favour of the Lymm club. This matter was now closed. Jim Gooch had completed the requested modifications to the web site and this appeared to be working satisfactorily. The major subject for discussion at this meeting is to be the results of the recent survey. As this is likely to be lengthy it will be left to the end of the meeting.
John Powell reported monies had now been received from Twickenham apart from a small retention due nearer the end of the season. This is normal practice. He reported a healthy balance in the account but with expenditure expected later in the season the final balance at the end of the current season may be slightly down on the season 2010/2011. The finances appear to be in good order.
Tony Ayin reported that he is still pursuing a number of avenues for further sponsorship but sadly 2 potential candidates in whom he had high hopes had not been forthcoming. It now looked likely that the main supporter of NOWIRUL would be Raging Bull but leaving a new supporter to be found for the cup competitions.
Tony Ayin thought that the web site was too “text heavy” and appeared to still be in the style of the 1990’s. Furthermore our sponsors do not appear prominently enough. Reg. Robinson said he would like to be able to access more pages with a maximum of two clicks. Howard Hughes suggested that something along the lines of the Pitchero sites might be suitable. Furthermore the current site is not friendly to smartphones which are now becoming more widespread. The committee feels it would like to have more control over style and content. Tony Ayin is already investigating a new site through a colleague of his and thinks a new and more modern site could be up and running in time for next season at a cost of around £1600. This will be further discussed at the next meeting.
Fixtures and Postponed Games:
Reg Robinson reported that he now has 180 games to re-schedule and there is very little room left in the season to complete all competitions. If the weather causes any further disruption there will be a serious problem. All around the table agreed that we did not want to cancel the minor cup competitions for a second successive season. Ian Cousins suggested that major games involving promotion and relegation would be given priority with other games which were not played to be awarded a result by the committee on a kind of “pools panel” system. This was thought to be a good idea but certain flaws might make it unworkable. The alternative was to ask teams involved in postponed cup game to play on the first available Sunday after the postponement. The committee realizes that this might not be popular in some quarters but is the only workable solution.
It was confirmed that Reg. Robinson had resigned from the Rules Committee. The question was asked as to whether or not 3 members are required. There were no immediate volunteers to fill this role but Fred Swarbrick felt that it worked well enough with just 2 members. It was agreed that the rules committee would continue for the time being with just 2 members but they had the option to co-opt a 3rd member at any time it was necessary.
John Powell produced the results of the 2 surveys carried out by NOWIRUL during December.
Of the 194 teams playing in our leagues, replies had been obtained form 189 which was considered to be very good.
Of the 104 clubs involved in our leagues and questioned by e-mail replies had been received from 53 which was a little disappointing.
Overall the survey showed a satisfaction rating of over 80% in the committee and the running of the leagues.
A summary of the findings of the two surveys will appear on the web site in due course.
Of the issues raised by far the most prevalent was the issue of travel. In particular teams who are required to travel from the south Lancashire area to play away in Cumbria find the time required and the expense prohibitive. Also teams travelling from West Cheshire to Derbyshire have similar problems. This is particularly mentioned by teams in the lower leagues who play more social rugby. Strangely very little complaint was received from Cumbrian and Derbyshire teams who have to travel the other way far more frequently.
It is known that the Cumbria RFU C.B. is in the process of producing a blueprint league system designed to attract all Cumbrian teams to play their rugby back in Cumbria. If this were successful much of the travel concerns of Lancashire clubs would be solved and NOWIRUL will do what it can to support Cumbria in this aim. However there is no suggestion that NOWIRUL will deliberately exclude Cumbrian clubs from its membership. This matter is now on hold until the Cumbrian situation is resolved. As the RFU have instructed the C.B.’s to take a closer interest in rugby in their counties at all levels It was suggested by Peter Rhodes, and agreed by all, that any team wishing to play its rugby under the umbrella of NOWIRUL is required to obtain permission from its C.B. Wording to this effect will now be included in the Code of Conduct that each club is required to sign and return each season. It is expected that in most cases this will be a formality.
The second most contentious issue was the matter of the cups. Some committee members are unhappy that so many byes have to be drawn in the early stages and then teams that have drawn games concede leaving too many players without a game that weekend. Some teams do not wish to be involved in the cups as they regard it as a distraction from the main objective of obtaining the best league position possible. Others delight in the thought of visiting clubs they would otherwise never see. As negative comments regarding cups were only around 20% it was agreed that cups competitions should continue but possibly in a different format. Fred Swarbrick suggested a separate cup competition at each level in our leagues which would mean an increase from 4 to 6 competitions. This would be manageable with the exception that a finals day might be difficult to arrange. Ian Cousins suggested that it would be better to remain with 4 cups and that the bottom 64 teams in last seasons league standings should compete for the Plate. The next 64 compete for the Shield and the next 32 compete for the Trophy. This will ensure full participation in the first round. The remaining teams would then compete for the Cup in a format to be decided when final numbers are known.
Some teams were not happy at the levels set for concedes before expulsion. Some thought that in the Premiership the level should be set to zero whereas others wanted 5 or more for the lowest leagues. No decision was made on changing these levels until it is known if the Cumbria clubs will be leaving us. If this happens then it is likely that Division 5 will be 12 teams per league and change will be unnecessary. There was little support in committee to reduce the Premiership concede level to zero.
Rough synopsis of survey results.
98% response 52% response
Travel 17% 42%
Cups 22% 19%
Fixtures/ 10% 7%
Postponements/ 13% 21%
Players/ 6% 7%
Rules 6% 7%
Percentages represent negative comments of those who actually responded.
Fred. Swarbrick will be sending survey results to Chris Burns at RFU HQ for his information.
Reg. Robinson wished to remind all league secs. of the need to report results on time and to update web sites at the earliest opportunity. Teams and captains are reminded that it is imperative to assist your league sec. as much as possible by reporting results immediately after the game, or, in the case of a concede/postponement as soon as the situation is known. In the case of a concede with playable pitches do not stand your players down immediately as an alternative, outstanding, fixture may be possible.
Meeting closed 22.00.