By Peter White, from Sportsbeat:
BUDE Rugby Club is ‘keeping up with modern times’ thanks to the intervention of the NatWest RugbyForce programme, according to president Julian Morris.
The Cornwall-based club is a relatively new institution having formed in 1966, when a group of local members built the clubhouse that is still in operation today.
With a flourishing senior, junior, minis and female section, as well as strong connections with local schools and community groups, the refurbishment of the changing facilities had long been identified as the key to improved inclusivity.
This summer, Bude has been one of eight clubs across the country to receive the support of NatWest and England Rugby to improve its facilities – with young volunteers from charity Volunteer It Yourself helping to undertake work that Morris admits might have otherwise taken years to complete.
With increased privacy and dignity provided for all club users going forward, the 48-year-old believes the ongoing work will have wide-reaching positive long-term effects for the club.
He said: “The clubhouse was probably fit for purpose in the 1970s and 1980s, but as we’ve developed over time we’ve realised certain things are outdated and not consistent with today’s world.
“For instance we had a door going from the bar straight into the changing room corridor, so after a game there was little in the way of privacy. By making things more appropriate, we hope to show current and prospective members that we are serious about these sorts of things.
“We very much see ourselves as a community club. We work with youth groups such as Blend and act as the base for charity walks and runs, so it’s hugely important we maintain those relationships.”
He added: “We’re hoping that it will also encourage more players of all ages and genders to get involved out on the field and reap the benefits of playing rugby and the sporting camaraderie it brings.”
Now in its 13th year, NatWest RugbyForce is a national programme developed in partnership with England Rugby which provides an opportunity for rugby clubs to open their doors to volunteers to help make improvements to their clubs.
TheNatWest RugbyForce programme, bolstered by support for the grassroots game more generally, is something Morris feels is vital for the health of rugby and the communities that it brings together.
He said: “We’ve been involved with NatWest RugbyForce previously with work that has involved making alterations to changing rooms and purchasing kits, and there have always been positives for the club and our members.
“As well as the infrastructural benefits programmes like this help bring everyone together, working to boost grassroots rugby and the community as a whole.
“We hope that such club development encourages more people to get involved, which in turn will boost our on-field ambitions as things gradually edge towards normality after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In the future we might look to add some more changing rooms if possible – either internally or externally – which will really complement the work NatWest RugbyForce has helped facilitate.”
NatWest is an Official Partner of England Rugby. NatWest RugbyForce is a national programme developed in partnership with England Rugby to help rugby clubs get set for tomorrow. @NatWest_Rugby @EnglandRugby