Haslemere Community Rugby Club have seen a resurgence in player numbers and results over the past few years.
Consistent hard work by volunteer coaches, supporting roles and administrators has come together.
Club chairman Richard George said: “Haslemere Rugby Club are in a very good place at the moment.
“We are strong financially with a great depth of sponsorship and support from our local business partners. Membership numbers have doubled in ten years – they are approaching 500 and are still on the rise. We are blessed with a very talented volunteer base, including 80 coaches. We are strong in numbers across all age groups from under-fives through to the seniors.
“We are very focused on our player development pathway, which is now reaping the benefits for our senior squad. It is an absolute joy to see boys working their way through the age groups and ending up playing as men in the seniors. For the future, we are focused on growing girls’ and women’s rugby and regularly fielding two senior men’s teams.
“We will also be starting a disability rugby programme where we work closely with those children who may be close to the youth justice system as well as developing walking rugby for our older community members.”
Haslemere currently offer rugby for under-fives through to seniors, as well as girls’ and women’s rugby.
Under-fives head coach Gareth Screech said: “The children start their rugby journey in the “Micros” or under-fives.
“We get them started on the basics such as catching and throwing. Parent involvement is key and the informal fun sessions are enjoyed by the families, giving them a real taste of what to expect from the club and coaches. We now have 30 children attending each week.”
The mini section of the club covers under-sixes through to under-11s and the juniors from under-12s through to colts (under-17s and under-18s).
The club follow the Rugby Football Union age grade rugby pathway and rules to ensure every player is able to enjoy rugby in a safe environment where they can develop their personal and social skills as well as wide array of transferable multi-sports skills.
Under-16s team manager Buff Cooper said: “Having been involved with Haslemere Rugby Club for more than 30 years as a player and coach, I can say that now is a very good time to be playing rugby at Haslemere. The depth and quality of coaching is outstanding. The executive has ensured we have excellent facilities, with five pitches including floodlit facilities.
“To see 400 boys playing rugby in a safe and friendly environment on a Sunday morning is heart warming in this day and age where technology seems to have taken an unhealthy hold over our children.
“This is testament to the success of the club’s player pathway which was the brainchild and hard work of former director of rugby and head coach Darrell King. The current colts head coach, Tom Sheridan, has successfully built on those foundations and is working wonders.
“Darrell’s contribution to the growth of the club and the current standing of our under-16s has been huge.
“Our pathway, inclusivity regardless of ability or finance, and strong club ethics are evident in our under-16s. The majority of our players have been with us for more than seven years. Six of our players are now playing regularly at county level and at Harlequins.
“We do not just develop rugby players at Haslemere. We ensure our boys are also well-rounded individuals who conduct themselves with integrity, sportsmanship and respect for others.”
Haslemere’s colts have grown in numbers under the direction of head coach Tom Sheridan. He said: “We now have an impressive squad of 40 and the boys play fast, attractive and enjoyable rugby.
“Their on-pitch success has been evident with a cup final win against Barnes in the Surrey Waterfall Competition last December. They are also proving successful in their current Quins Cup campaign and will be in the semi-final play-offs. Their success is focused on individual skill and technical development centred around our player pathway programme.
“This structure ensures youth players enter the senior section with confidence.”
Over the past four seasons, the senior section has grown and secured two promotions.
Head coach Daniel Brockhurst said: “Our recent journey has taken us from a struggling, social participation squad to one that is competitive without losing sight of the social side of the sport – an environment that has blended grassroots with performance. We have a great team culture with a genuine family feel, coupled with the desire to improve and compete. The senior section has benefited hugely from our player pathway with more than two-thirds of the regular starting 15 coming through our mini and junior sections.
“This has enabled us to have a thriving under-21 squad within the senior structure.”
Rugby for women and girls is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world. The Haslemere BlueBelles are coached by former University of Brighton vice-captain and current Guildford Gazelle player Liv Marshall. Liv said: “I want to build a permanent legacy of women’s rugby at Haslemere. We are creating a fun environment for girls to thrive across multiple age groups.
“We train on Sundays from 11am to 12.30pm and focus on basic skills and the core values of rugby. This Easter we will be running a rugby academy hosted by top-level coaches – a perfect opportunity for anyone wishing to come along to see what we are doing with women and girls’ rugby. We welcome players of all abilities, including those with no experience.”
Haslemere Community Rugby Club are looking for new players regardless of ability and experience. They have a scholarship programme to ensure finance is not a barrier for any individual wishing to play rugby. For further information, go along at 10am on a Sunday to the training grounds at Woolmer Hill Pavilion, email [email protected] or contact Liv Marshall for girls’ or women’s rugby on 07546 052648.