LAST week I attended the Rugby Expo show at Twickenham with Phil Vickery and others from Team Raging Bull.
Billed as one of the biggest rugby events in Europe, this show is aimed at all areas of our sport.
Vicks delivered one of the key note speeches which was well attended.
Having the platform to discuss these issues collectively provides a greater understanding in how a rugby club ticks on and off the field and I found this vital to my director of rugby role.
Grassroots clubs talked about the funding process from the RFU and how it could be made a lot less complicated and how it can be optimised for all concerned.
It showed me there are a lot of very intelligent people at the lower levels of rugby who have some smart ideas.
They're trying to do their best for the club and fight their cause, which is good.
In parallel I have spent time in strategy meetings with Chippenham Rugby Club, who are in the process of completing their five-year business plan.
As a valued customer in National Three aiming to get to National Two, it was great to speak with 30 club members and have the chance to give my insight into the pitfalls of the semi-professional game.
They want to remain an amateur club yet are a very progressive and forward thinking club, well organised with clearly defined ambitions.
It came back to that key word 'sustainability' – whereby every rugby club has to remain sustainable when they pay players.
Once you start paying players a rugby club transcends to a new level and is never the same again.
In my experiences at Cinderford, I know that there are a lot of clubs out there who are well organised, proactive and understand what the RFU are trying to do.
It hasn't helped with the many personnel changes at the RFU in recent times.
Another key note speaker was Barry Hearn, who gave a really good talk as to what the RFU should be doing, drawing parallels with the darts and snooker industries, which was interesting.
At the gala dinner Bill Beaumont picked up a lifetime achievement award, which was tremendous.
I caught up with him afterwards and he was very complimentary about Cinderford RFC which made me a very proud director of rugby.
He said he was looking forward to his trip south later in the season with Fylde – and so are we Bill!
Upwardly mobile Centralians can be an inspiration:
I WAS amazed to hear about Old Centralians and their training predicament and how well they’re doing.
It just goes to show how far team spirit can go when people get set up properly. Even with limited resources you can still achieve good things.
You really have to take their campaign towards National League rugby very seriously now, considering where Old Cents have come from.
They’re well organised and have a good proactive committee with players who want to play and do well.
It just goes to show what a bit of hard graft and decent coaching can bring.
I take my hat off to them and they’ve got a generation of guys who have been there a while as well and have clubbed together with a few youngsters.
But if they can stick together and wait for the school to be built then that could improve things further.
It is a major success story and one that they should be very proud of.
Other local rugby clubs can take inspiration here.
To go on up into National League rugby is a significant jump and it will be interesting to see if they can bridge that gap.
Macca is making his mark:
IT’S GREAT to see Chris McNeil coaching at Chosen Hill Former Pupils.
‘Macca’ was a very good player at Cinderford and I played with him while he was there.
Sadly since I took over as director of rugby he has been plagued with significant injuries which have been upsetting for him, and put him out of action.
It’s a difficult mindset to deal with, especially when you have to work as well, so he has decided to take a bit of a break from playing and concentrate on coaching.
By all accounts he’s doing very well albeit in a very difficult job.
It’s a tough league and they’re trying to stop the freefall of games they’ve been losing and it is hard to stop that momentum.
Last season it was all down to losing key players to injury and Macca is very enthusiastic about the level he played at and will be able to pass that knowledge on.
He is still young but don’t get me wrong I want him back playing at Cinderford.
If he can stay in the game until he is fully fit and recharge his batteries, then why not do a bit of coaching in the meantime.