Bognor Rugby Club delighted by victory of different kind

Bognor Rugby Club are celebrating what they see as a significant victory – they have survived the pandemic and its periods of lockdown.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 3:15 pm
Back on the pitch - Bognor's senior squad / Picture: Tommy McMillan

Bognor Rugby Club are celebrating what they see as a significant victory – they have survived the pandemic and its periods of lockdown.

Players and volunteers at the Hampshire Avenue club are now getting back to club activities - and the future is bright for all sections of the club.

They’ve not played a league game since March 2020 but are now back in action and looking forward to a busy 2021-22 season.

Bognor take on Tottonians / Picture: Tommy McMillan

Club vice-chairman Doug Millen said: “The 2020 to 2021 period has been trying, to say the least. Covid-19 has impacted us greatly as a society – and as a club.

“Rugby has had to stop and that has affected all of our teams in many ways, including players not returning or at least very slowly.

“New skills were not being learned and teams were not able to play and improve on skills learned.

“As with every sports club the ability to open, trade and therefore provide an income to the club was sporadic and rare in 2020.

Friendly action / Picture: Tommy McMillan

“We managed to open the bar a few times (in a Covid compliant way) for televised matches and for a couple of small post-match evenings.

“This did provide some much-needed income and I’d like to thank Liam Bennett, our chairman, who was instrumental in trying everything legally possible to ensure the club was available for members.

“However, in terms of an operating year, apart from the membership/vice president fees, we’ve had virtually no other income.

“With this in mind, it’s absolutely key the membership continue to pay their monthly membership fees.

“I know for some, this is a big financial ask, but it’s incredible to know that the majority still do make the payments month on month and for that, please accept our heartfelt thanks.

“Since the start of the latest lockdown, we had returned the club to a ‘closed’ state, so anything that can be switched off has been.

“We’ve an excellent relationship with our suppliers and we’re still in a good position to be able to pay any bills and outgoings.

“In fact many of them have been proactively contacting us, offering assistance and helping us to keep costs down.

“Over the last year we’ve successfully applied for and received government help.

“Despite effectively losing five months of income in the previous lockdowns Bognor RFC has survived.

“This to me is a real victory for BRFC – for many other clubs are not in such a fortunate position.

“My heart genuinely goes out to others, who on the field may be opponents but in the spirit of rugby are still our family.

“In summary the bank accounts are still healthy and we’ve still not had to use any of the contingency funds that have been in place ready for just this sort of occasion.

“Our current account is reducing slightly month on month, but we are extremely close to breaking even and I’m still 100 per cent confident the future is bright and we’ll still be here in another 55 years’ time!

“We’ve managed to secure funding for a clubhouse refurbishment to include new changing facilities and we’ve negotiated a new bar deal with Greene King which enables us to increase our bar offering with keen prices to keep everyone spending and enjoying themselves in a true Bognor RFC way.”

Bognor’s senior squad returned to action with a friendly away to Tottonians.

The club have also staged an internal 7s/10s/touch rugby day, while this Saturday the first XV will travel to Uckfield Rugby Club.

They hope to stage a home fixture to end the season on Saturday week, May 29.

The mini and youth sections are back training and playing Covid-secure fixtures, with numbers increasing week on week and with the RFU’s summer initiative, this looks to continue.

Millen said: “Currently rugby is at the RFU’s D2 level which allows ‘normal’ rugby but with adapted rules of no scrums or mauls.

“It’s envisaged rugby will to return to its usual format before too long and certainly in time for the new season start in September and for pre-season training.

“We’ve a busy off-season schedule with the Lions tour on our big screens amid our clubhouse refurbishments where everyone is welcome.

“Members old and new or non-members will be welcome.”