We all know this has been a Rugby Season like no other. The continued backing of every single member and supporter of Abingdon Rugby Club is required, to ensure our Club bounces back to full activity, as soon as circumstances allow.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a vast impact on the whole country. The huge number of deaths, and levels of serious illness caused, along with the economic damage inflicted have been devastating. Our Club, and its members have certainly not escaped the effects of the emergency.

Abingdon Rugby Club has adapted to meet the challenges that have arisen.

Safety measures were implemented through Summer and Autumn 2020, which allowed Rugby activity to continue. The Seniors on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Minis and Juniors on Sundays trained enthusiastically. When permitted, Rugby matches under adapted rules took place, against other local Clubs, and internally. This activity all took place safely, and everyone concerned undertook the hygiene and Test and Trace measures required.

The bar and kitchen were open when regulations allowed. Hygiene measures, including mask wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitization were instituted. The social space at our Club was as safe as possible. An ordering app, was introduced, allowing the required table service to take place. These developments were all made possible by the hard work of everyone involved in managing the social side of our Club.

That all stopped at Christmas, firstly when Abingdon was placed in Tier 4, and shortly afterwards when National lockdown was implemented. We know now, that almost certainly there will be no competitive Rugby, before this season officially ends on 24th May. It may be possible for some training, and friendly matches, under adapted rules to take place as the season’s end approaches.

Attention now focuses on ensuring the future of Abingdon Rugby Club, when some normality returns. In no small part this entails ensuring the finances of our Club remain in good order. The Trustees of our Club have met remotely, every two weeks, since the original lockdown began. Their efforts have ensured that our future is bright.

We are not a rich Club. We do not hold vast reserves of cash. All money generated by the Club is swiftly invested in providing Rugby Activity. Fixed costs of the Clubhouse and grounds, even when hardly any activity takes place, exceed £20,000 annually.

Our main sources of income are usually from the bar and events, various sponsorships, some grants and donations, and of course the subscriptions all our members contribute.

Unfortunately, income from the Bar and events has fallen hugely, since social gatherings have been curtailed. To a small extent, these losses have been offset by being able to return a few items to the suppliers.

Our Club is extremely grateful to those sponsors who have continued to support us over the last season. Their help has been invaluable. Inevitably the current economic environment has forced some of our sponsors to withdraw. We hope conditions allow them to return to us soon.

Much hard work has been undertaken over the last few months, to try to make good financial shortfalls, suffered in other areas. Rate relief and other grants have been secured from Vale of White Horse. A grant has been obtained from Sport England, to help maintain the fabric of the Club. A significant refund has been obtained from our energy supplier. The results of other grant applications, including one from Diageo are awaited. New avenues for generating income are always being explored.

Income received from members’ subscriptions, at all levels of the Club has been the mainstay of providing the financial stability our Club requires. The willingness of Abingdon Rugby Club members and supporters to pay their subscriptions, despite the reduction of Rugby Activity and curtailment of the season, has been a great indicator of their enthusiasm for helping our Club survive these terrible times. Current financial stringency, dictates that as a matter of routine, our Club is not in a position to refund any of 2020-21 season’s subscription. Discussion with other Clubs locally has revealed this to be the case across the board. We may be able to offer a rebate against next season’s subscription, where this might be appropriate.

The Trustees, and Committee of Abingdon Rugby Club are confident that all steps have been taken, to ensure our Club survives the current emergency. We look forward to welcoming all our members back when we restart Rugby, and all the other activities centred on the Club. Hopefully this will be soon.

Stay safe out there.

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