Committee Members attending: Peter Rhodes (President), Fred Swarbrick (Chairman), Reg Robinson (Secretary), John Powell (Treasurer), Howard Hughes, Jon Daldry, Ian Cosens, Greg King, Craig Hine.
Apologies: Andy Thompson.
Attending from the Clubs: Paul Maguire, Jake Widdrington, Jordan Waddington (All Lymm), Andy John, Duncan Horrocks (both Rossendale), Dave Crank (Waterloo), Bert Lambert (Refs Association), David Burrows (Colne & Nelson), Colin Webb (Burnage), Mark Simmons, Simon Howell (both Eagle), Dave Clarke (Wigan), Alan Johnson (Macclesfield), Neil Hawkley (Marple), Daz Lucas (Wilmslow), Ron Hall, Martin Jones (both LSH), Andrew Perry, Tony Gilmour (both Vale of Lune), Barry Allen (Broughton Park), Martin Parkinson (Eccles), Eddie Wallbank (Tyldesley), Ian Hollis (Orrell), Michael Lough, Ade Jebb (both PGH), David Todd (Heaton Moor), David Herriman (Lancashire County), Maxwell Fox-Leonard, Tony Fox-Leonard (both Burnage).
Apologies: John Jeskins (Heaton Moor), Simon Owens (Marple)
Meeting opened at 20.00 hrs.
Chairman Fred Swarbrick opened the meeting by welcoming all present and expressing his delight in seeing such a well attended meeting. He declared that the 9th season of NOWIRUL had been a successful one with all matches completed in spite of many postponements due to the weather and other factors. Once again many thanks to Reg Robinson and Barry Allen for many hours of hard work re-arranging fixtures. All Cup fixtures were played which had not been possible last season. Thanks to Stockport RUFC for staging an enjoyable Finals day.
He mentioned the results of a recent survey held to gauge the opinions of Clubs, teams and players within our Leagues and could only conclude that the vast majority were very happy with things as they are and that we run a very democratic and open organisation which must be the basis of our success.
Fred expressed regret at the loss of the Cumbria Clubs for the immediate future but hoped that a way might be found for those Clubs who wish to rejoin us may be able to do so in the future.
Fred thanked the University of Salford for their support over the last two seasons and expressed regret at their leaving us. However we were fortunate that Raging Bull had agreed to take over the mantle of main sponsor. Happily Bateman BMW will remain with us as a supporter of our Premier League and we thank them for their continuing support.
Fred referred to the recent presentation which was a great success and expressed his thanks to Bowdon RUFC who had provided the venue at short notice.
Thanks also to the continuing support from the full Committee with special congratulations to Howard Hughes who has been appointed as Assistant Manager to the England U18’s side. He will relinquish his position as a League Co-ordinator but will remain on the Committee in an advisory role. Further thanks were offered to all our referees and others whose contributions lead to the smooth running of such an organisation as ours.
We now look forward to our 10th season with possibly one or two small issues to be sorted out but nothing insurmountable. We recognise that no side is more important than any other and all will be listened to and treated equally.
Fred closed by proposing the adoption of the Minutes for 2011 which was seconded by Reg Robinson and carried unanimously.
Reg Robinson presented his report as NOWIRUL Secretary. He too regretted the departure of the Cumbrian Clubs and paid tribute to them for offering no complaints for the large amount of travelling most of them were required to undertake. He also hoped they would be able to find a way to rejoin us in the future. He gave thanks to Barry Allen for his help in re-arranging postponed matches and to those Clubs who agreed to play on Sundays. This enabled all the various Cup rounds to be completed. He told the meeting that he was unhappy about the number of problems he had been required to sort out which he felt unnecessary. He had decided to resign from the Rules Sub-Committee as a result of this but would continue with his other commitments. Much of the things he wished to say had been covered by the Chairman so his report was fairly short.
John Powell presented the accounts which showed the balance lower than last year. This was because the University of Salford had paid two years up front and last year the dinner at PGH had not appeared in the accounts due to a dispute with the Club. Taking these matters into account the accounts were in roughly the same position as last year. The Benevolent Fund accounted for approximately £4000 of this balance, which was slightly up on previous years. It had been agreed in Committee to set aside £3000 to support Association referees.
Greg King proposed acceptance of the accounts, seconded by Neil Hawkley. Carried unanimously.
Election of Officers.
Greg King proposed that Barry Allen joins the Committee to take over the duties relinquished by Howard Hughes, seconded by Jon Daldry, carried unanimously.
Andrew Perry proposed that the remainder of the Committee should be elected en bloc. Seconded by Ed James and carried unanimously.
1. Rule 16. Proposed by the Committee.
When two teams finish a season on equal points in either promotion or relegation positions but one team has benefitted from “Walkovers” but gaining no match points, that team may be regarded as having an unfair disadvantage. Several possible solutions were discussed re this problem but in the end it was decided to adopt the wording as written by the Committee in the proposal.
2. Cup Competitions.
The Committee proposes to increase the number of Cup Competitions from 4 to 6 so that there is one for each level. This will decrease the possibility of miss-matches and release ONE Saturday per season to help with possible re-arrangements in the event of bad weather, carried unanimously.
3. Changes to the Constitution.
Proposed by the Committee to change the wording to the effect that all teams participating in NOWIRUL should have the approval of their Constituent Bodies.
Proposed by Tony Gilmour and seconded by Neil Hawkley, carried unanimously.
4. Rolling Substitutions.
In the light of rolling substitutions being introduced in the North of England for all teams playing at level 5 and below it was proposed that the same regulations should be applied to NOWIRUL at all levels.
Some discussion ensued as to how exactly this would work, particularly in Clubs where the 1st team plays higher than level 5. It was agreed that referees should be fully informed and that RFU guidelines should be followed.
Proposed by Wigan RUFC and seconded by Leigh RUFC, carried, for 25, against 7.
5. In the light of proposal 4 Wigan RUFC proposed that the number of substitutes allowed at all levels in NOWIRUL should be reduced to 3 at all levels, seconded by Leigh RUFC.
Reg Robinson and others pointed out that the main reason for more substitutes being allowed at lower levels was to ensure that as many players as possible get a game and people do drift away from the sport due to lack of participation. Furthermore many players at lower levels lack a little fitness and would benefit from less than a full game particularly now as substitutes can now roll on and off as required. Reg Robinson counter proposed that substitution numbers should remain as is which was seconded by Dave Clark.
The counter proposal was carried, for 31, against 1.
6. Proposal by Committee that representatives from Lancashire CB and Cheshire CB should be allowed to join the Committee with full voting rights. Tommy Hughes was proposed from Lancashire and Alan Johnson from Cheshire, carried unanimously.
7. This proposal had been dealt with earlier.
8. Proposal from LSH RUFC and seconded by Lymm RUFC and Birkenhead Park RUFC.
The proposal was to run the Premier Conference system from the beginning of the season rather than just the second half of the season effectively making 2 separate 7 team leagues.
Fred Swarbrick quoted Rule 11 which means that the Committee have the sole right to determine league formats and fixtures. The feeling from the floor was that if this was the case the proposal should have been disallowed from the outset and not allowed to find its way onto the agenda. As it was on the agenda it should be discussed. Fred agreed to withdraw his objection. Martin Jones from LSH addressed the meeting with the argument that the standard of skills, fitness and strength is too diverse from the top to the bottom of the Premiership. He fears that the risk of injury is too great and that too many heavy defeats for the bottom Clubs is bad for player morale and could put young players off the game. He felt that a more level playing field in 7 team leagues would reduce these problems to an acceptable level. Lymm also felt that the difference between their 2nd and 3rd team was too great and when the 1st team had demanded players from the 2nds when the 2nd team had a tough fixture 3rd team players were either unable or unwilling to step up. Martin Jones admitted that meetings had been held with certain Clubs to put this proposal together and those present had agreed to back it with the exception of Burnage. Burnage felt that although they would be in Premiership B and benefitting from “easier” fixtures they were an ambitious Club and relished the thought of testing themselves against the best. Michael Lough from PGH suggested that teams potentially in Premiership B should follow their example as at one time PGH 2 were struggling at the lower level but with attention to recruitment, coaching and fitness they had regained a top 3 position. A long discussion followed discussing points for and against the proposal but most of the attendees were not representing Premiership teams and so decided to back the Committee to decide on the format of the Leagues. When put to the vote it was: for 8, against 22.
Greg King declared that there was an issue here that could be taken seriously and that a Sub-Committee should be formed to look at ways to alleviate the problem. Jon Daldy seconded the motion.
Simon Howell from Eagle stated that the Committee should be supported wherever possible as their actions had saved his Club from extinction. So much so that their 1st team was now doing well back in the National Leagues and a vibrant 2nd team plays in NOWIRUL.
Meeting closed 21.30.