London Welsh - The Future
By Dragons Den
May 7 2017
Exciting news from ODP last Thursday as the Amateur Club Board set out their vision for the future. Realistic plans and a sustainable future together with bringing in top level experience raise hope for many exciting seasons to come. The press release is below.
London Welsh Rugby today unveiled its five-year plan to take the Club back to the National Leagues, with former Wales star Sonny Parker set to spearhead its bid.
London Welsh’s professional team was expelled from the Championship in January after failing to satisfy the RFU criteria for Championship rugby. It today starts The Journey Back through the leagues as an amateur club led by former Wales Grand Slam winner, Parker, who has accepted the position of director of rugby.
Capped 31 times by his country, Parker was part of the Wales side which won the Grand Slam in 2008 and played in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. He ended his playing career at London Welsh before going on to join the Club’s coaching staff, as well as acting as team manager.
The community club, also based at Old Deer Park, already plays in level 9 (Herts and Middlesex 1) and will represent the London Welsh name in the English leagues. Part of the Club’s five-year plan will target promotion to reach National levels.
Former Ospreys and London Welsh prop Cai Griffiths also joins as player/coach and augments the club’s existing coaching set-up. Team manager will be Pete Lowe.
London Welsh Director of Rugby Sonny Parker, said: “London Welsh has been my club for some time now and I have a great affinity with it having been involved as a player, team manager and coach, and now I’m hoping to bring all of that experience to bear in helping the club to build a new future.
“I want to help get the club back to where we want it to be, and I believe the five-year plan is an achievable one.
“Everyone within the club is really passionate about London Welsh, from the minis up through all of the amateur sides, and it’s that passion and ambition which has driven me to be a part of this.
“As well as coaching, I’m going to be involved in recruitment and preparations on the playing front for next season are already underway. The existing squad is a good one, but we’re already talking to several players who are very keen to join us and who would augment the existing group.
“On the coaching side, we already have a good set-up so I’m just looking to introduce a few new things such as changing our playing style a little bit, and that’s going to be the part of the challenge.
“The first year is going to be the real indicator, but the ambition is definitely there to make the five-year plan a realisation.”
London Welsh Amateur RFC Chairman Gwyn Williams, said: “The last few months have been a very difficult time for anyone connected with our club. With the season at a close, now is the time to begin a new chapter for the Dragon in Exile.
“With over 750 players aged from 6-60, amazing sponsors and supporters, we have the opportunity to focus on our core strength as an inclusive family orientated club where we measure our success not only by our league position but through providing excellence in the player and supporter experience.”
London Welsh’s five-year plan – The Journey Back
Priorities for 2017/18 season and beyond:
- To develop our 1st XV recruitment and resources - we are committed to competitive National League rugby, playing at the highest level we can achieve through a sustainable funding model.
- We will continue to provide a broad range of community rugby, including game variations and multiple adult men’s teams, for all ages, male and female, as part of an integrated and diverse club.
- The Club will work to meet all its liabilities at Old Deer Park in collaboration with the other sport clubs sharing the grounds to develop the facilities in order to improve player and supporter experience.
Development of talent:
- To provide a performance player pathway for talented 18-24 year olds through our ‘Griffins’ academy side through to National League Rugby .
- To grow women playing numbers and ultimately to develop a female ‘Griffins’ academy. Our goal is to increase the player base and to finish in the top three in our league.
- To develop skills for youth players aged 13-17 via the West London Skills Academy. Our goal is to have at least three players in each of these age groups represented at County level and other selective governing body programmes.
Further to this statement, Gwyn Williams, Club Chairman, outlined how supporters and players could get involved:
The Journey Back starts today.
Our ambition to deliver an outstanding rugby experience for all those involved with our club remains at the centre of all that we do. You may have seen this mornings public statement where we announced the exciting news of additions to our management and coaching team, this is the first step. We will, however, measure success not only in our league position but by how we increase participation in all variations of the game, improvements in facilities and the financial sustainability of our club.
How you can help?
If you are not a Member, join our club and support it both on-and-off-the-field, and have your say in how it is run.
If you have specialist expertise or time, take on a director or volunteer role. Your skills and time are incredibly valuable to YOUR club.
We will be launching a Vice Presidents Club, Parton membership, for next season, therefore if you are interested in any of these initiatives or making tax efficient single or regular gift aid donations to help fund the objectives above please contact our membership secretary or email email@example.com:
187 Kew Road,
I would invite all members, friends, supporters, season ticket holders of London Welsh to attend an AGM at Old Deer Park on 31st May 2017 at 7:30pm to hear more about the Club’s plans and proposals for the future.
It’s time to gather ourselves, and re-focus the London Welsh family for a new future. Recent events have been hugely upsetting, but we have every confidence that we have and will attract talent to the club so that we can climb and develop a strong team for the future.
We thank you for your passionate support of this amazing community and look forward to many more years of fun, friendship and great rugby.
On behalf of the Directors and management board
London Welsh Amateur RFC
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.
The London Welsh name, despite the loss of the professional side in January, will continue with the amateur side. As chairman, does that make you proud?
It's impossible not to feel some sense of pride in being part of an organisation that's called London Welsh. We've been playing rugby in London since 1885 and at these grounds since 1957, so being part of seeing that continue and being part of seeing that grow and develop further, of course, you have to be proud to be involved.
The club have outlined a five-year plan. A plan that will see the club target promotion to national levels. How achievable is that aim?
Absolutely achievable. That's about playing well and getting promoted. The financial aspects of that, we have a clubhouse that we have to run and that costs the same amount of money whatever league we play in. We provide our players with exemplary medical support and that would cost us the same whether we're playing in level 10, level 9 or level 6, largely.
What we're talking about here is making incremental investments to allow us to move an organisation up through a league structure which is inherently run on an amateur basis where players aren't paid to play the game. So when you don't have those costs to carry, yes of course, it's perfectly achievable.
Sonny Parker and Cai Griffiths have joined the coaching team. Could they be the catalyst for the team's rise up the leagues?
For sure. Those two individuals are high calibre professionals and in of itself I'm sure will attract quality players to come to the club. I've been talking to one of our young props who has been here all through his playing career as a youth player and who now plays in our men's system. The excitement on his face, knowing full well in a few weeks he's going to be working alongside Cai Griffiths, it was amazing.
Equally, to talk to Cai, you can see how excited he is about being able to come in at the beginning of another of London Welsh's journeys. He's thrilled as well, he's over the moon with having the opportunity to come in and contribute. It's just wonderful that people feel so attached to this club and want to contribute to it at whatever level in the leagues it's in at the moment.
Is it important to keep that Welsh link going through Sonny Parker and Cai Griffiths?
It's fundamental. We're an English rugby club, there's no question about that whatsoever. However, we're an English rugby club that has a very Welsh feel to it. That's equally as important for the people that come up from Wales, as it is for the Welsh people who have been born in London and want to have an experience of something that maybe their grandparents talk about or their parents talk about. Those being the generation that came up here to live.
Equally, if you're coming in from abroad, and you're looking for a club that has some different characteristics, then people love coming to play rugby here, whether they're South African or Canadian because it's a very special place and perhaps, more importantly, it's a very inclusive place and a very family-orientated place, it's easy to come and feel at home here.
The five-year plan also states the club's desire to operated within a sustainable funding model. Is that doubly important given what happened to the professional side?
Well that certainly was a sobering experience. To run any business, and amateur rugby clubs are small businesses, you have to operate any business inside of a sustainable framework. That doesn't mean to say you can't make investments over a longer term, but you have to be able to understand how there is going to a be a return on that investment and how you can operate in a position where you are spending no more than your income allows. Sustainability is critically important to this rugby club and I think it will be at the forefront of our minds because of the experiences that we've had.
Frankly I would encourage every single rugby club in this country to take a little bit of a lesson from what we've learnt and to try and ensure they have a sustainable framework in place. Sustainability can also be about volunteers, you have to be able to run rugby clubs with a great number of volunteers. So having a sustainable number of volunteers in the organisation, to match up with what you're trying to achieve, is also important. So we're not just talking about cash here, I don't think.