Could you be the Rugby World Team of the Month? If your side has a story to tell, send in your nomination now – the award is open to every amateur rugby club in the world

Could you be our Team of the Month?

It has been a season like no other, with the vast majority of amateur rugby teams unable to lace their boots in anger because of the pandemic. Yet the Rugby World Team of the Month award has continued unabated – and we’re now looking for our next winner.

We know there’s far more to a team than a set of match results. And this season we’ve been able to shed light on four clubs for their efforts and achievements away from the field.

Our first winner this season was Scottish team Stewartry. They were top of West Regional One when the 2019-20 campaign was interrupted by Covid, yet voted to nullify the season in an SRU poll because their priority was the safety of their members.

Over last summer Stewartry set skills challenges, installed floodlighting, reviewed their mission statement and appointed a Covid Safety Officer in Clare Dooley.

 

Could you be our Team of the Month?

Top Scots: Stewartry featured in our Nov 2020 issue

Best of all, they ran a #clearyourhead campaign, with mental health tips from players and coaches. Stewartry have lost two members to suicide in recent years and DoR John Muir said the club “realised we had a bigger role to play than just offering rugby opportunities”.

Mitcham & Carshalton were our next monthly winners. The Surrey club had won a MasterCard Community Award last season, along with promotion to the county’s fourth division, but were forced to reset their sights by the forced inactivity.

“Losing match-day revenue is a concern but lockdown has been a blessing in its own way,” chairman and flanker Keir Waller told us. “It reignited us. Some people on furlough found themselves with time to help build the player base, work our social media and develop our facilities. They were able to add that layer of paint to the changing rooms or help clear out the garden. It’s let us take stock of what we have and how to move forward.”

Mitcham & Carshalton RFC

Spirit of rugby: Surrey club Mitcham & Carshalton are at the heart of their community (Chrissy Read)

Generating new sponsorship, relaunching a women’s side and completing work on a beer garden were three of their successful projects.

From there we crossed the river to Hendon, who secured a league and cup double just before the first lockdown. Rather than bemoaning their luck at being unable to test themselves in London Three North-West, they did the next best thing – by creating a cluster league for the non-contact game Ready 4 Rugby.

President David Gershlick was the driving force, assembling a six-team league featuring Hendon, Barnet, Mill Hill, Harrow, UCS Old Boys and Watford – two Herts clubs playing with four from Middlesex.

He told us: “Enfield asked to come in and I said, ‘Sorry, I’ve kept it to six clubs but why not form your own league around your own cluster area?’ Which they’ve done very successfully.

“Then our county got involved because Harrow chairman Andrew Smart is also chair of the Middlesex Competitions Committee. So the county through Andrew’s initiative have now picked up something like 30 other clubs. Wearing my Hendon hat, we became trailblazers.”

Hendon, Team of the Month

New game: R4R training at Hendon, whose president established a cluster league (Tom Brownsell)

Our latest winner, who you can read about in our February 2021 issue, is Swanley Black Swans. Owen Connelly, a full-back at the Kent club, decided to launch a women’s team.

“The vast majority of the players had never played rugby, and some of them not even any sport. My worry was that it might become a bit disjointed and cliquey,” said Connelly.

“I couldn’t have been more wrong. They’ve bonded incredibly well. The moment any of them have any issues, any troubles, have to self-isolate, it’s ‘Anything I can do?, I’ll pick this up, drop this off’. They have a great team spirit.”

Whether it’s sharing posts, fundraising for the local ambulance station or making a one-year anniversary video, the players are throwing themselves into rugby life with gusto.

Ellie Harris, Swanley Black Swans

Recognition: Ellis Harris, Most Improved Player at Swanley Black Swans (Owen Connelly)

“I don’t know what other rugby teams are like but I think I’ve been lucky,” adds Connelly, a project manager. “They just buy into everything you ask them to buy into. And do it with 100% effort and a smile on their face.”

So could you be our Team of the Month? Charity work, a community project, a recruitment drive – there are any number of different reasons why you might have a story to tell that we would love to share with Rugby World readers. The award is open to any amateur club anywhere, and that includes school teams.

If you think your side deserves to be the next Rugby World Team of the Month, just email alan.pearey@futurenet.com with some brief details, including a couple of photos.

Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.