Swaffham Rugby Union Football Club
Article provided by Jim Crouchman, Hon. Secretary & Minis Chair, Swaffham RUFC
I first became involved with the club about six years ago following my eldest son taking up rugby as an Under 10. He was soon followed by his younger brother who started as an U6.
We were attracted to Swaffham because my son already had school friends playing there, we live very close to the ground and, being relatively small, it is a real family club where we were instantly made to feel welcome.
I soon got drawn into coaching and quickly went from helping out the coaches to coaching at U8s, attaining my level 1 coaching award and taking that squad through to U10s.
In 2015, I became the minis chair, which duties I share with my wife, Alison. I also now coach the U7s. This season, I was elected on to the committee as Honorary Secretary.
As I got more involved with the running of the club, what was soon very apparent is the dedication of the small team of people who run the club. For my part, the challenge is coordinating all the various strands of my roles and doing so in my spare time.
However, the biggest reward is seeing the large number of children of various ages and from various backgrounds enjoying engaging in a sport that is not only fun, but will equip them with the core values that are equally applicable in their life outside the sport.
The club has a proud record of carrying players through from minis, through youth, to the senior sides. Indeed, our current club captain, Matt “Fish” Clarke, started out at the club as a mini player himself.
The club has always had a strong minis section, although it has often struggled to carry significant numbers of those players through the youth section into the senior sides. However, with an influx of players this season, we have a new youth chair and he, together with his team of youth coaches, is really getting some momentum in the youth section. Hopefully, it won’t be too many years until some of these players are playing for the senior teams.
The club has a 1st and 2nd XV. The 1st XV play in the Eastern Counties Greene King Division One North League and the 2nd XV in the Eastern Counties Greene King Division Three North League.
Following tough last seasons which saw the loss of a number of players through retirement or family or other commitments, it is fair to say that the senior teams are going through something of a re-building process. The re-structuring of the leagues into North and South leagues will help by reducing the amount of travelling.
This, together with a renewed enthusiasm amongst the teams, will hopefully be reflected on the pitch. The start of the season has been “patchy”, but a strong performance against one of the league’s stronger sides gives cause for optimism.
Clearly, the plan for the rest of the season is to build on this and really develop the cohesion within the squads, especially given the larger squad sizes now needed in order to regularly field teams as players often have to balance the conflicting demands on their time.
The club remains busy through the off-season. This year the club hosted a 7s and 10s tournament – the 7s for the elite teams and the 10s for the more social sides. The club also hosted a Leicester Tigers Rugby Camp, as it has done for a number of years.
The club also has a good social side, too. Amongst other things, the club holds half a dozen VP club house lunches throughout the season.
As one of the few clubs in Norfolk that is within walking distance of the town centre, the club can and does play a part in the community. The club runs a fireworks display that has been held for a number of years now, which will be followed shortly after by a grand auction night.
The club has also forged links with local charities and organisations, for example, one of the club’s VPs has recently completed a 140 mile walk with funds raised split jointly between the club and a local hospice and last Valentine’s day the first team coach and a number of players visited a local nursing home close to the club to bring some cheer to the residents. The club has also provided a welcome stop-off on a number of charity cycle rides.
The club is supported by a number of local businesses, many of whom have family links to the town and the club.
In common with many clubs, Swaffham faces a number a challenges, not least of which is player retention. The club’s challenge is to see the players developed though our minis and youth programmes move into the senior game. Hopefully, in five years’ time, the club will be reaping the rewards both on and off the pitch.