What a roller coaster year it has been. After appointing Clinton Van Rensburg as rugby coordinator and Phil Cronje as head coach at the end of 2019, the two gentlemen swung into action and recruited several new players and managed to keep many of the Hammies stalwarts at the Club. The first steam squad had a good start to the season and a very successful camp at Saggy Stone in Robertson. The side won all their friendlies, including against last year’s Champions Durbell. Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic dawned on us at the end of March, before the league even started. The effect was that we had to close the Club for more than 6 months, with no income to support our players or staff. The result was that we had to use some of the funds that were donated by our sponsors to pay salaries and other necessary expenses such as security.
We were fortunate enough to generate some income during phase 3 of lockdown. Although minimal, every bit helps. The Club has been open since 1 October 2020, with Saggy Stone doing a revamp, for which we are grateful for and the field being levelled. We also have new operators in the gym. They should be operational from December 2020. It is an interesting new concept that originated in New York. I urge members to try it and to invite guests to join them.
What lies ahead for rugby in 2021, Covid -19 regulations permitting.
1. We fall under the rules and regulations of SA and WP Rugby. As such, contact sport is not permitted under the current lockdown regulations. Hopefully these rules will be change soon to allow us to train and play unhindered. We have and shall in future adhere to all Covid – 19 protocols.
2. We have had our first meeting with prospective players for next year, bar one or two, we are confident that we can keep the players for next year. They are an exceptionally talented bunch of players and with the coaches in place we are very bullish about the prospects for the sides.
3. We shall again try and enter into an agreement with the WP Rugby Academy to use their under 20 players next year.
4. We plan on entering 3 senior sides, the Fourth side Dynamiters and 2 under twenty sides.
5. Training is scheduled to start during the second week of January 2021.
6. We shall again have a training camp at Saggy Stone in Roberson and play against the local sides. This year it was a memorable occasion and hopefully we can build on this.
7. The Derby will be played on the 27th of March 2021 at Brookside.
8. The Junior section is going from strength to strength under the watchful eye of Adrian Kay and Lisa Parrello. We are fielding at least 10 sides next year from under 8 through to under 13.
9. We are in the process to launch an in-house touch rugby league, but with the restrictions and the field under maintenance we shall start in January 2021. There are no less that 5 different groups playing touch on our field and the idea is to bring them all together on an evening that will suit all, to have fun and to create a gees at the Club on those evenings. Hammies must become the preferred destination for members and their families.
Off the field there are already a couple of very positive things happening.
1. We launched the 1875 Club. This is a Club initiative to raise funds for the upkeep of the Club house and the field. We have already spent R26500 of the proceeds to level the field. The next project is to renovate the changing rooms, which will commence during December. We are also looking at building a new storeroom/gym/tuck shop under the deck next to the field. We have the quotes an as soon as the funds are available, we shall commence with building thereof. The pavilion also needs to be upgraded.
2. The City of Cape Town has given an undertaking that they will replace the fence next to the stables and along Stephan way. This will not only help with security, but also be an aesthetic improvement.
3. The major expense however will be the upgrade of the flood lights, which will cost between R600 000 and R900 000, depending on the type of lights that we use. We have received a recommendation from an electrical engineer, who advised on the best route to take in this regard. The new committee will decide the way forward.
4. We have applied to the lotto board for financing of a capital nature. Hopefully we shall hear the outcome of our application soon. We applied for R750 000- 00. These funds will definitely boost the Club coffers.
5. WP Rugby is moving to the DHL Cape Town Stadium from next year. We have plans in place to maximize our income from this move. Our Club finances are still under pressure and hopefully we can have a sustainable income from spectators at the stadium from next year.
6. As you all know the British and Irish Lions are touring SA next year. We are working with SA Rugby, who wants to utilize our field for two to three weeks leading up to the test. We are also doing our “own thing”. The plan is to have a marque that can host at least 800 people. We have already been approached by touring operators who have pledged at least 700 guests on the day of the test. We also plan on having a dinner, with a panel discussion and an auction at the Rotanda at the Bay Hotel on the Thursday before the test. We can host up to 500 guests at the venue and would appreciate your support.
7. For the first time in many years our Clubhouse is looking very welcoming. I urge you to support Saggy Stone and refer friends and family to use the facility. Andrew Bradley, an old Hammies guy, is very approachable and will always assist where possible. This facility and its surroundings have the potential to generate huge income for the Club. Please use it and market it where you can, to individuals and corporates. I also need to mention the passing of Cecil Bradley. In recent years he always organized the Derby bowls games. Cecil bequeathed R10 000-00 to the Club, for which we are very grateful. Morris Silke also passed away. Morris was a life member, Vice President, player and my conscience for many years. Our sincere condolences go to both these gentlemen’s families and friends.
As you will notice we renamed the committee room to the Morris Silke room, the Bailey Lounge to the Bryn Ressell Lounge and the Frank Moore Lounge to the Marsh Shirtliff lounge. This is a small token of the Club’s appreciation for what these three gentlemen have done and contributed to the Club over the past couple of decades.
I would like to thank Michael Stakemire who left our employ as Club Manager at the end of February, after more than 10 years, for his diligent work under very extreme circumstances and financial constraints.
We welcome Derrick Lichtenstein who has been appointed in his stead. Derrick will form an integral part of the Club and report to the committee on a monthly basis. I have had the privilege to work with Derrick over the past couple of months and I am confident that he is the right man, with the right temperament for the job and that he will in fact excel at it.
I thank Ryan Jones and Ros Silke for launching and running with the 1875 Club idea. Thank you also to Marsh and Bryn for your ongoing support. To the President and the rest of the committee, I think we have laid a sound foundation to build on for the future, for which I thank you. I am very excited to welcome the newly elected members onto the committee and I am sure we are moving in the right direction to make Hammies the leading Club in the world, a home to everyone.
I thank you.