All rugby clubs need to continually recruit and retain players if they are to sustain or grow their playing numbers. Schemes for recruitment and retention should be actively created, ideally as part of a whole club development plan and should capitalise on interest generated by high profile rugby events such as the RBS 6 Nations and the Rugby World Cup.
To recruit new players a club needs to promote and publicise itself. Too many clubs are invisible in their local community or do not actively market themselves as accessible for anyone who wants a game.
The Go Play Rugby recruitment campaign of 2007 highlighted the many ways that clubs can attract lapsed players from their local community:
- Come and play festivals for new players
- ‘Bring a mate’ sessions with current players
- Dads and Mums festivals for parents of mini and youth players
- Advertising in local papers
- Taking part in local fetes and open days
- Leaflet drops around local housing estates
- Local promotion in pubs and clubs
- Revamping the club website to attract current non members
- Redecorating the clubhouse and revitalising the social side of the club
A number of case studies highlight the innovative ways community rugby clubs have developed player numbers, across all levels of the club. They include: Wheaton Aston RFC (MS Word DOC 1.2MB), Eccleshall RFC (MS Word DOC 26kB), Ellingham and Ringwood RFC (MS Word DOC 31kB) and Alresford RFC (MS Word DOC 25kB).
The retention of current players within a club is most effective when the needs of the players are met as fully as possible. Contributory factors include:
- Quality of coaching
- Standard of changing rooms and social areas
- Quality of pitches
- A flexible approach to playing and training for those players that need it
- Good communication about selection and club events
- Quality of referees
Clubs should schedule regular consultation with the players to find out what their particular needs are and install player representatives on appropriate club committees.
Some players will always leave the club to go to university, another job etc. The club can help retain these players for the game by helping them get in touch with a club in the location where they are going. This process can be helped by appointing a Club Pathfinder Officer. This person will help any players leaving the club to find a team where they are going and also to receive any players moving to the area.