Stand in the middle of central London, Trafalgar Square to be precise, start walking north and the first rugby club you will come to is Belsize Park RFC.
Based in the heart of London amidst a population of over 8 million people you may expect Belsize Park to have always had an abundance of players available to them but that hasn’t always been the case.
“It’s always been a great club with a very strong spirit but up until the last five years or so we sort of kept it to ourselves and so we were always a relatively small club,” says club director of rugby Zach Webb.
“In the last few years we’ve taken player recruitment very seriously and have seen massive results.”
From 77 new recruits in their 2011/12 season, this year the club has seen an increase to 280 new players with 380 in total playing for one of their six sides.
TAPPING INTO LONDON’S POTENTIAL
After deciding to prioritise recruitment, the club began by targeting the thousands of people who move to the capital each year who had once played rugby but were now without a club.
“We encouraged every player to become a recruiter, to spread the club’s message by word of mouth,” says Webb. “When players join we try and create a home and a rugby lifestyle for them here. We give them a rugby club and also a family that accepts them in.”
As a result, Belsize Park has become one of the most diverse clubs in the world.
“We have players from Uganda, Chile, America, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, South Africa and New Zealand to name a few as well as players from all over the UK. The next challenge comes in retaining them.”
Retaining hundreds of new players each season is a unique challenge and Belsize Park approach it in a unique way.
“We consider ourselves to be the most widely toured amateur team in the world,” says Webb. “Every year since 1989 we’ve gone on two tours and have now travelled most of the world as a club.”
From China to Barbados, Belsize Park continue to take a group overseas each year with the aim of developing a strong ethos.
Despite having only senior teams, the club also has a partnership with Regent’s Park Royals mini and junior rugby teams, offering coaches every week to help develop the sport.
CLIMBING THROUGH THE LEAGUES
All their efforts off the pitch seem to be paying off on it.
The club has secured eleven promotions across their four league sides since the 2011/12 season with their 1st XV winning promotion to London 2 North West this year.
“We gave ourselves the target of reaching London 3 and managed to do it a few years earlier than planned so the next plan is just to keep rising through the leagues and show that we can do it while remaining strictly amateur,” explains Webb.
In recognition of Belsize Parks’ extraordinary growth they were awarded the Player Recruitment award at the President’s Awards by RFU President Jason Leonard, a fitting accolade for a club leading the way in growing the sport.
Date: Saturday 17 June 18:30 to Sunday 1:00 Location: Cumberland Hotel, Great Cumberland Place W1H 7DL Dinner: 3 Courses Entertainment: DJ and dancing Dress: Black Tie Cost: £80 per person
Mark your calendars and dust off your dinner jackets for the Annual Belsize Awards and Dinner Dance (and Chairman’s speech).
This year our end of year extravaganza will be held at The Cumberland hotel near Marble Arch. The posh hotel venue will include a DJ and dancing in the expectation that you will bring your wives and girlfriends to the event.
We have made some improvements in order to make the event more WAG friendly and a bit less of a sausage-fest. We will be staying at the venue throughout the evening and the bar will be open until 1 am (thus avoiding the experience of previous years when we have been turfed out after the dinner and been refused entry anywhere else}. The Board and Social Committee are trying to offer a civilized affair to which you can confidently bring your WAGS.
Join your team mates in celebrating another amazing season for Belsize and the many accomplishments and contributions that got us there.
To purchase tickets contact the following table captains who will collect your payment.
Belsize Invicta but in a civilized way, with dinner and girls and dancing (and a Chairman’s speech)
All events / Socials / Training and fixtures will be updated on this but please keep checking club emails for any changes and updates. This also does not add the events to your personal calendar, simply adds an additional calender that you can view.
End of Season
A reminder about where we stand on training, playing and socials as we head into the final month of the 15s season.
We have Coram’s Fields booked until the last 1st XV game of the season. The final training here will be on Wednesday 20th April.
Corams Field, Farringdon, EC1R 0EG Location for training Pitches
Regent’s Park only mark rugby pitches until Easter Weekend each season, regardless of how early/late it might fall. We have all now played our last home game in the park. Home games from this point will be played elsewhere.
Remaining games 2nd April 2016
This is the final day of league games for the 2s & 4s. The 3s have their cup semi this day while the 1s are also on the road in the league. We expect to field the Bulls, possibly for the final time this season. Business as usual.
9th April 2016
The 3s have their MMT League Play Off Semi, the 2s will be in their cup Quarter Finals and the 4s in their plate QFs.
16th April 2016
in previous years this would be the final weekend of 15s and we would have just a couple of sides out. This year we are expecting to fulfil the below games, all competitive and relevant to the success of the season:
1st XV – home to Old Actonians (will be played elsewhere)
2nd XV – HMMT Cup Semi
3rd XV – MMT Cup Final
4th XV – HMMT Plate Semi
23rd April 2016
Finals Day. If results go the right way, the 1s & 3s will be playing to win their leagues and the 2s & 4s will be in knockout finals:
1st XV – away to London Nigerian
2nd XV – HMMT Cup Final
3rd XV – MMT League Final
4th XV – HMMT Plate Final
We will not arrange additional games, but we will set up socials around watching & supporting the teams playing for trophies & titles.
The end of season wrap party will be taking place at the White Mustache followed by our infamous Silly Sunday!
30th April 2016
Obviously the major rugby on this weekend will be taking place in Greece but we will also be entering a side into the Middlesex 7s at Richmond FC.
This is on the Sunday of the Bank Holiday.
We will also look at other 7s competitions as well as entering a side into Regent’s Park Touch Competitions once more.