In case you somehow missed it, on the 20th March 2020, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) cancelled the remainder of the 2019-20 season for all domestic rugby in England – with the exception of the Gallagher Premiership – due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Whilst there is no doubting that it was the correct decision and made for the right reasons, it is still disappointing for players, coaches and fans alike.
So, is that it? Does that now mean that, grassroots clubs in particular, have to sit around twiddling their thumbs until September? Not exactly. Although there may not be much happening on the pitch, there are still plenty of positive actions that grassroots clubs can take ahead of the start of the 2020-21 campaign in a few months’ time.
Sponsorship & Relationship Building
One of the most important things for grassroots rugby clubs to continually do is form and maintain good relationships with local businesses – small, medium and large. Establishing a good rapport with the companies that are on your doorstep provides sound foundations in which to build and grow a positive brand reputation within the local community. Aside from the potential financial aid that could arise through sponsorship, these relationships create opportunities to develop new fans and, affectively, new ambassadors who will want to be associated with the club. So, while you have the chance to implement these changes, be brave! Check out www.snapsponsorship.com and build a free profile using promotion code: “nomonthlyfee”. SNAP are running a webinar series to help clubs, you can register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3511687713551954188– who knows where it could lead come September.
Social Media & Administration
In an increasingly technological world, I think some clubs would admit that their approach to social media is somewhat archaic, but it is crucial that such clubs move with the times and assert their online presence. Even something as simple as updating contact details on the club’s website or sharing the weekly match reports across social media can make huge differences. Using this lull in activity to carry out some perhaps long overdue spring cleaning could be time well spent and make the club more appealing – both commercially and personably.
Forward thinking & Planning
One of the greatest resources that any grassroots club can have are the facilities; from clubhouses to function rooms to bar space. They are also often underutilised and a drain on resources, when they can be so much more. Hosting events is often a great way to engage stakeholders, such as supporters and businesses, and in doing so, not only showcases the club’s amenities, but also demonstrates a commitment to becoming a hub for the community. Partnering with local authorities can provide a way to run events at little to no cost for participants, while still generating new sources of revenue for the club. More importantly, these community-orientated events will create much more in the way of goodwill from the attendees you cater for and could, as a result, encourage new members to join and get involved.
Although hosting physical events is not possible under the current government guidelines, who’s to say that clubs can’t start planning for a beer festival, charity dinner or fundraising event in 6-8 months’ time?
As the age old saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail.