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A Message From Our Chairman


Welcome to the 2022-2023 Old Colfeian Season!!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed basking in the summer sun on your dry and brown lawns, and you’ve all managed to keep healthy and stay safe.  After the double-league and cup champion winning season we saw in 2021/22, I’m sure you will all be asking ‘how on earth are we going to top that?’ & ‘well what delights will this season bring?’. 

Well, I’m not sure I can promise anything quite so dramatic as the promotion and cup win last season – but that’s not to say that our ambition and our desire to improve has faltered or diminished in any way.  The 1XV and 2XV have been busy with preseason prep, and although we recognise that the level of rugby will increase and will be challenging, I know the players are setting themselves some very ambitious, exciting, but realistic goals for next season.  No doubt next season will be physically testing, but I can promise, is that it will be very exciting rugby!

For those of you who attended the AGM in June, you will know that I’m pleased to report that OC’s are in healthy order, and I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone back to play a wonderful season of great rugby (at every level)!!  The new fixture card is enclosed, it’s packed with useful information and handy contact details.  As your Chairman, I welcome back all the players, support staff, committee members, directors, volunteers, coaches, grounds staff and bar staff, and I look forward to seeing you at the matches, training sessions, pre-match lunches and other social events that we have planned as we gear up for the new 2022/23 season.  I would also like this opportunity to thank Rob Gardiner (Vice Chairman) and Dave Hodgkiss (President) who really helped me last season, they were a real help and often a compassionate shoulder to cry on at times J

Rugby clubs need to evolve, develop, and make progress if they want to survive in the post covid world.  As part of our ongoing modernization program, I’m pleased to welcome some new young faces to the Board of Directors.  Please join me in welcoming Noel Kilby (Juniors Chairman) and Ben Hutchings (Academy Program).  Both are regular faces around the club and need little introduction, but I’m very pleased they are joining the team to help drive the club forward. 

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Mike Wrigley who is stepping down as a Director – Mike has been invaluable and instrumental in respect to his contribution to minis and juniors rugby.  He has been a trusted advisor on the board, and we are gutted to see him go – but 15 years is a decent stretch!  I’m hoping to get him down for a few pints, and a lunch or too during next season.

In other summer news, the team have also been trying to recruit a head coach for an adult OC’s Women side – that process is still underway, so if anybody knows of any suitable candidates, please do mention them to me and can make the relevant introductions.

As I mentioned earlier, pre-season training is already well underway, with a host of new talent joining from other clubs, as well as our OC development programs contributing heavily towards the 1XV selection.  Games against Cleckheaton (Away in Leeds) on the 20th August, and a joint training session with London Cornish (30th August) have already been organised – please see the website for further and up to date details.

After the thrilling scenes pictured below of the last playing season, all the senior sides are hoping for a good start to the season.  Our Colts look on fine form as they also look to improve their results, with many of the older lads looking to play senior rugby this season.  I’m very proud to report that towards the end of last season 2 lads from the Academy played in the 2XV adult cup competition – with Tyreece picking up Player Of The Match for his efforts!!

Our Minis and Juniors are exuberant regarding the return to Horn Park.  They have never looked so healthy in terms of numbers.  I must thank all of the managers and coaches for their continued hard work and commitment – it’s easy to forget that we are all volunteers!! 

The girls’ teams are also in a good position. We are looking to expand the number of players in all the age groups. The next target is to get our senior Ladies team up and running so we have a pathway for the girls to aim for in playing senior and quality rugby.

The usual thank you must extend to Vicky Fleetwood and Tom Chapman who have held numerous touch, fitness, and non-contact rugby sessions.  Both remain heavily involved in the coaching down at OC’s, are a constant source of good ideas, and have also been helping me out with the training facility project.  Thanks once again!
Let me share with you some early thoughts about what lies ahead in the coming months:
·       A new 5-year plan for OC’s.  With the help of you, I want to make OC’s the best amateur club in SE London.  We will do this by offering the highest levels of coaching standards, having top class facilities, with having great socials!!  Rob Gardiner and I are very close to completing the first draft which I plan to openly share and communicate the principal aspects of the plan/vision with you soon, so that everyone knows the direction we are heading and the objectives we are all trying to achieve.
·       I’m pleased to announce that during the season we secured planning permission for a new state-of-the-art training facility (“The Barn”) to help with strength and conditioning, whilst running classes for the wider community.  The project team is currently being formed.  More updates on this to come, but no doubt you will see the ‘fund thermometer’ in the bar soon as we look to raise additional funds (we have already raised a significant amount!!).
·       The summer event held at Artis was a real success in terms of numbers and in terms of fundraising.  Congrats to Rob Gardiner and his team for pulling this off, and I look forward to another even being planned soon.
So, some very exciting new changes to look forward to.  Please do come and see me if you have any ideas, I promise I will listen and consider them. 
One thing that is for sure, is that none of this amazing work could be achieved without the countless number of volunteers that work in the OC’s team.  A personal thank you from me for the time and effort you put in to make this place special.  We always need more help, so even if you can spare just an hour a week, please come and find me and join the team!
We are still working in five local schools as part of the Schools Outreach programme and are building on a plan to expand this, the funding for this will come from the Rugby Camps that we run ourselves with Ben Hutchings, Tom Chapman and Tom Rameaux.
Can I encourage you to become a social member of the rugby club and to thank those who already are, also a massive thank you to our sponsors (we have a couple of new ones this year too!)!!  The Rugby Club is a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC), this gives us tax benefits similar to those for charities, including Gift aid.  Also, those who are in the 200 Club are making a further contribution to the club, over £15,000 at present. Please join if you have not already.  Peter Davies is the contact for this (, just £5 a month with a chance to win some big cash prizes.
We continue to adhere to extremely high standards the RFU set around safeguarding, and we are still heavily involved in various charities like Wooden Spoon, and CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), a charity with recent prominence given the events in the Euro’s.
We managed to get some great social underway.  My personal favourite was the ‘Ladies Day’ at the end of the season – what a day…(and night!!).  We are doing our best to regularly update the website so that is always up to date, plus there are countless WhatsApp’s groups that are available with news and updates, or if you are a bit old fashioned like me, you can also speak to me in person J Rob Gardiner and the rest of the committee are also available to answer any questions.
I’m energised and enthusiastic about the journey ahead, buzzing at the thought of playing in the league above, but the thought of seeing everyone at ‘Our Club’ having fun at Horn Park, puts a real smile on my face!
Best regards, and come’on OC’s!!
Bill Blythe – OCRFC Chairman

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