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Secretary’s Report from the AGM

The Honorary Secretary’s report traditionally covers the activity of the club in the previous season. In recent years it has become customary for a review of the season’s rugby activity to be given at the Spring General Meeting. It is therefore covered in the minutes of that meeting which are circulated and approved at this Autumn meeting, therefore I will not waste your time in duplicating that, other than to remind you all that despite a number of season ending injuries and a poor January, the 1stXV secured their place in what we must now call the London & SE Premiership with several games to go. An improvement on the previous year. The injury problems caused difficulties in fulfilling fixtures, especially for the Swallows, but there was progress for the Development Squad, who will be the Swifts in 2018/9 and the Swifts, who will be the Martins in the coming season, to reflect the levels at which they will be playing. The Ladies 1stXV had a great season, terrorising their supposed betters and only the RFU can explain why they were not good enough for the next league, despite regularly beating the teams in it. The coming season will see the Ladies development XV also enter the league pyramid. It is worth restating from last year that the Minis and Juniors have again demonstrated that the “One Club” ethos does indeed start when you first turn up at our club and lasts a lifetime.

We know we need all the volunteers essential for the success of our club. The army of coaches, first aiders, managers, drivers, kit washers, Gazebo builders, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, without whom our club wouldn’t operate, let alone grow, move forward and be successful. To that end we hope to do more to recognise the efforts of volunteers in the coming year.

Coaches, referees and first aiders all attend training courses in their own time to support and help the club. These courses are part of a national structure or are nationally approved. Barry Nolan deserves the club’s thanks for his continuing work as Club Coaching Co-ordinator, ensuring that there is a clear Coaching development pathway and that the club hosts regular training vents and first aid courses. His efforts re recognised by the RFU, who have been known to borrow his work…. Our referees are ably marshalled by Connor Murtagh, although we could always do with more of them.

The last season was also the first for Jeff Parsons, our new Director of Rugby. He may have been new to that role, but Jeff has been a club man and boy nearly all of his life, being a mini, junior, 1stXV player, coach, head coach and latterly dad of a mini. Jeff cares passionately about our club and I would like to congratulate him on his first year as the Director of Rugby.

The end of season saw the departure of Lee Cholwera as Head coach. Lee lead the coaching team in our promotion back to Level 5 of the pyramid, but felt he needed a new challenge. We thank him for his sterling efforts and wish him well for the future. A departure brings an opportunity, and we a very pleased that Mike Schmid has agreed to step up and be our new Head Coach. His passion for the game is infectious as any one who has spent time with him can tell you. In the time he was Lee’s assistant he showed a commitment to the club that included playing for the Vets team and coming off the bench for the 1stXV when the injury crisis was at its worst. Paul Hodgson, perhaps the finest player produced by our club in modern times has also returned to act as Mike’s assistant. It is perhaps this coaching team that has created the excitement and commitment amongst our senior players during the preseason training.

It has also been a real baptism of fire for Frankie Murray and Georgia Whitfield, who have had a successful first year as our new club stewards. They are still growing in to their new roles, visibly so if you consider Frankie’s waist, so please continue to give them your support as they get used to their new roles.

Liz has taken over as the club cook and as she enters her first full season is looking to build upon her own baptism of fire last season. Guy Howford, Chairman of House and Grounds as also found our own versions of Foggy, Compo and Clegg in John, Micky and Wynn, whose efforts in maintaining the club house and grounds has become legendary (except on Thursdays, as they get their pensions then!).

Chris and Karren Munro have stood down from their respective roles of Chairman and Membership Secretary. The General Committee would like to thank them for their efforts over the years, as parents, coaching, volunteering… etc etc. This of course gave new opportunities. Mark Felstead, “Pumba”, was elected Chairman unopposed and Robert Smith has become our new Membership Secretary. With Ryan Reino now concentrating on the Asst Honorary Secretary role, Jon Potts has become the new Chairman of Minis, and Teddy Tedore the new Chairman of Juniors. After years out hyperbole-ing Sky Sports, Sam Phillips has stepped down as our Communications lead, with Sophie Small taking up that particular pen, or should it be keyboard. Whilst mentioning Sam he should be congratulated on this years’ Summer Camp. It is the 10thAnniversary of this brilliantly organised fun event. Thank you, Sam and the rest of those who help run the event.

You will have noticed the new building at the back of the club hose going up over the last year. It now houses the club Physios and a rehabilitation area. Sadly, the year has seen the passing of such club stalwarts as Ron Baines, whose death came as a shock to us all. The new facility will be named after Ron. We are still in the very capable hands of Cherrie and her fantastic team, who somehow manage to get our senior players to actually do what they are told, as they are not famed for looking after themselves when injured, playing being their only plan for a Saturday afternoon… A personal thank you for having to continually put up with Ciaran on too regular a basis. I think he has finally got the importance of pre-season training and keeping fit…

We are getting close to 11thhour of the eleventh day of the 11thmonth – the 100thanniversary of the end of the 1stWorld War, or the Great War. Over the last 4 years we have commemorated the 100thanniversary of the death of each of the fifteen club members who lost their lives fighting in this “war to end wars” The 1stXV stand is more formally called the Memorial Stand. Our memorial to the club’s fallen is on the end of the stand facing the clubhouse. A whole team of our players made that ultimate sacrifice.  I would ask you all to reflect for a moment and consider the following, known as the Kohima Epitaph:

‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’

From a personal perspective, the last year has been very tough for Rhys, Ciaran and me. Without the friendship, support and care of the extended family that is our club, it would have been a lot worse. Thank you. Thank you all.

This report has been written after two months of the new season. The win away at Dorking being one of the most committed performances I have seen from the 1stXV in a number of years. All we need know is some consistent performances to match.  Thank you all again for your contributions, help, support and advice over the past year. And here’s to the next 12 months.

Kevin Mohr
Honorary Secretary

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