Middlesex Rugby, the body responsible for community and schools rugby in the old Middlesex county area around London, has entered a new partnership with London Irish following this summer’s Academy boundary changes introduced by the RFU.
The partnership offers both Middlesex and London Irish a wealth of opportunities to develop the game. Over 4,500 young male and female players are active in the county and will benefit from the developing player programme (DPP) to be operated in association with the club.
The Middlesex representative age groups from under-15s to under-18s will also benefit as ongoing player development initiatives will improve performances. Another area with potential is the involvement of county players with the club’s ASSE programme and their possible progress to senior county teams.
Coach education will be a priority for the partnership as both county and club seek to develop coaching standards across the county. In this regard coaches will have access to the club’s 63 acre, state-of-the-art training complex at Hazelwood in Sunbury-on-Thames.
Middlesex’s three Directors of Rugby (DoR) – John Lacey Senior DoR, Martin Crossan, Youth DoR and Nicole Jenny-Kwee, Girls and Women DoR, will work with London Irish’s DoR, Nick Kennedy, Head of Community, Andy Keast and Academy Manager, Patrick O’Grady on player and coach development programmes.
Commenting on the partnership, Bob Lawless, Middlesex Rugby Chair of Playing, said: “This partnership is a win, win situation for both parties. Middlesex has riches of talent throughout the county and given the ambitions of both partners, rugby in Middlesex can only benefit.
“We are looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. With quality development work in hand in the inner city boroughs and the support given by our clubs and schools, our age grade representative teams have much to look forward to.
“My first impression of the club’s Hazelwood complex and the quality development work that is taking place there is first class and that can only be good for the game in our clubs and schools.”
London Irish Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy said: “Our community rugby programmes in Berkshire and Hampshire have been very successful over the years and we remain committed to them. Our new relationship with Middlesex Rugby provides a rare opportunity to take our programmes to another level and we’re excited about that.”
Andy Keast, London Irish, Head of Community said: “These are exciting times for Middlesex Rugby and London Irish. The talent pool in the county is full of potential and this new partnership provides the opportunity to realise it. Planning is already under way with Bob Lawless and his colleagues and we’re looking forward to early positive outcomes.”
Middlesex Rugby – an overview
Middlesex Rugby is one of 35 Constituent Bodies (CBs) of the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Middlesex fulfils a number of vital roles to manage the representative game within the county and develop rugby within the community as follows:
- Work closely with RFU Rugby Development Officers (RDOs) and local and regional organisations to help promote and develop the game of rugby union within its member clubs.
- Provide the RFU with local knowledge of clubs, and act as a communication link between the clubs and the RFU. Annually monitor club accounts and promote the use of the Game Management System (GMS).
- Plan, agree and implement a strategy for rugby development of all players within the CB and coordinate an annual player development programme.
- Provide opportunities to play representative rugby through teams who compete in the County Championship, from which the England Counties representative team is selected, the National Under 20 Championship, and at under-18 level and below.
- Organise county leagues, manage county cup competitions and merit tables for club teams and manage leagues, merit tables or festivals for young players at under-18 and below.
- Establish coach development programmes and maintain close links with referee societies who train and develop referees. Work with the RFU to increase the number of volunteers with skills and commitment to administer the game at club level.
- Use delegated disciplinary powers to act in relation to infringement of any law of the game by players below National League level or for any conduct prejudicial to the game or for infringement of most RFU or IRB regulations.
London Irish at Hazelwood and the Club’s Community Programmes
London Irish moved into its new purpose built, state-of-the-art training complex at Hazelwood, Sunbury on Thames in July 2014. The centre is already recognised as one of the best facilities of its kind in England with five full size pitches, including a 4G pitch, and 12 junior pitches.
The complex includes a clubhouse, world class gym, medical facilities and catering operation required for a professional rugby team, with offices for management and commercial staff.
Hazelwood is also home to the London Irish Amateur Rugby Club.
The club’s community programmes cover Berkshire, Hampshire and now Middlesex and embrace schools and community clubs with activities including rugby camps and coaching clinics.