Rugby juniors celebrate 25 years

March 28 2016

Chipping Sodbury RFC is marking the silver anniversary of its youth section.

Chipping Sodbury RFC Silver Anniversary

Chipping Sodbury RFC is marking the silver anniversary of its youth section.
It came about in October 1991 at the time of the second Rugby World Cup with England loosing 6-12 to Australia in the final at Twickenham.
Mike Palmer phoned the club to ask if there was a junior section and he spoke to Laura Richards the ladies’ captain and wife of the club chairman.  She told Mike there was no junior structure at the club and asked him if he would like to start one.
Mike responded to the challenge and his son Ben started cajoling a few of his friends to come to the club and try their hand at a game that most of them knew nothing about.
It all began with a few dads and their sons meeting at 2pm on Saturday afternoons on the training pitch with a few balls and cones and doing basic drills. The numbers at the start were very small, but after a while they increased and four of the dads, Mike Palmer, Nigel Jarrett, Paul Willis and Geoff Waters put some money in a kitty and formed the junior section with Mike as chairman.
The ethos from the start was to encourage youngsters to make new friends, learn basic handling and tackling skills and discipline while at the same time enjoying participating in a great sport.
Mike was a firm believer in ensuring that the main priorities were to ensure that all children participated in games irrespective of their ability and that coaching should follow strict guidelines as lay down by the RFU. It was also of paramount importance that the children were always in a safe environment both on and off of the pitch
In the early days the club were very lucky to have a lot of help and guidance from Alan Muckle who was the RFU Youth Development Officer for Bristol. Alan was an ex Royal Marine physical training instructor and later moved on to become a fitness adviser for Formula 1 racing teams. He was committed to introducing junior rugby and organised a series of coaching and skills courses.
The first fixture was away to Gloucester Spartans but at that time they had no shirts. Further fundraising allowed the club to purchase new kit for all of the teams and by the end of that first season the section grew to 50 players with teams from Under 8 to Under 12.
 On November 7th 1992 a mixed U10/U11 team played Cotham Park who had formed their junior section in September 1991, in a curtain raiser match at the Memorial Ground before an England B v South Africa game..
All the young players really enjoyed the game with the big match atmosphere and the chance to see England players like Brian Moore, Neil Back and Ben Clarke and the famous South Africa fly half Naas Botha.
Mike Palmer together with that early team of volunteers formed the foundations of what is today a very strong youth and junior section. Many other clubs followed Sodbury’s example and now enjoy youth rugby.
A few of the players, from those early days went on to represent the senior club and have provided team captains and committee members of the main club.
Of the original ‘team’ Geoff is still coaching and Nigel went on to act as treasurer, secretary and chairman of the senior club.