Update from Our President- 25/3/21

Traditionally this is the time of year for prize giving’s and club dinners. Celebrating successful campaigns or reflecting on what could have been. A ball has not been passed or kicked in anger since October 2020, though it looks like the there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The IRFU launched their Ready for Rugby program last week and looks like we will be moving to the non-contact training phase with a start date in around the 2nd or 3rd week of April. Some of the sections in the club will start earlier than others and this is purely down to logistics Do however please keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates.

I am delighted to announce we will be partnering with local charity Yellow Ribbon to help raise their profile in the local community. Yellow Ribbon are dedicated to preventing suicide attempts in the wider Portadown and Craigavon area which I am sure you will agree is an invaluable service. Please take the opportunity to visit their website (click here) to see all the good work they do. We are hoping to hold an event in May to raise some money which will assist Yellow Ribbon with the upkeep and maintenance of their facilities in Church Street. As a club we will continue to keep the mental health of our members and our community at the forefront of our thoughts. Remember if you feel you need to reach out to someone for a chat, our Club Chaplain Jonny Hampton is always at the end of the phone and you can contact him here.

You may have read recently of that Ulster Rugby have been successful in their application for essential funding of £725,991 on behalf of rugby clubs through the Sports Sustainability Fund. The club applied for funding as part of this process and are please to announce we have been successful in our application. A big thanks to Neal Taylor and Alan (Joker) Robinson who put the application together, this money will go a long way in helping replace our lost revenue streams because of COVID 19. In my last note I mentioned that we had received grant assistance from the Peace IV fund for the essential work to the floodlights on the 1st XV pitch. I am pleased to say work has started on the project and we hope to be finished soon, well ahead of next season.

On the rugby front, it was great to see 3 of our U18 players selected for Ulster U18 team. Jack Dang (flanker), Jamie Hayes (Outhalf) and Sam Anderson (Hooker) were selected to play in an inter provincial match v Munster but unfortunately the game was unable to go ahead. Watch out for these names in the coming season as well as a host of other very talented young players that are coming through our youth teams at present.

Our senior coaching team have been holding a series of online seminars on various aspects of the game open to all sections of the club. The last session on scrummaging was very well attended with members of the Ladies and Youth teams joining the senior squad for an excellent presentation from Mark Neilly. There are another 2 sessions planned covering strength & conditioning and defence. Hopefully, the coaches will be able to deliver sessions like this in person, sooner rather than later. The coaches are hoping to build back stronger, and it has been encouraging to see so many of the players engaging in the online activities over the last number of months, building up their rugby IQ. I for one, am very excited seeing our players develop and am very much looking forward to seeing them coming back better than ever next season.

Our Ladies section have been very active over the most recent lockdown and you may have seen their #choosetochallenge interview series running on Facebook. This is in conjunction with International Women’s day and explores the challenges the Ladies face not only on the rugby pitch but in their everyday lives. A big thanks to Meghan Hoey for organizing as well as everyone who has taken part in the interviews. The ladies’ section has grown substantially in the last year and there have been plenty of enquiries over lockdown from potential new recruits. Also, as part of International Women’s day the Ladies planted some snow drops on the bank in front of the club. These will continue to grow and develop in the coming years, just like our Ladies and Girls rugby section.

Perhaps most active of all over the last lockdown were our Panthers. Their energy and enthusiasm know no bounds as they walked, ran, and cycled a staggering 2,276 miles in a virtual tour of all the Six Nations stadiums as a way of encouraging their families and friends to keep fit in February and March. Posting pictures on social media, themed on their virtual destinations, there were daffodils a plenty in Cardiff, Tartan in Edinburgh and my personal favourite, pizza when they arrived in Rome. Well done guys and we look forward to seeing you all back out on Saturday mornings showing off your rugby skills on the pitch. 

You may have noticed on our social media channels recently that we have signed up for the coffee4clubs program which helps raise funds by, believe it or not, drinking coffee. The idea is that for every bag of coffee purchased, the club receives a %age of the proceeds from coffee4clubs. The coffee is packaged in a unique PRFC bag which really is quite smart looking. The project is the brainchild of Bravo Tango Coffee in the Moy. To order a bag for yourself and support the club click here

One of the encouraging developments over the last number of months has been the increase in volunteers willing to get involved in the running of the club. Most of the volunteers have come from the younger members which bodes well for the future. One example of this has been the marketing and PR function, where 5 of our young members are now involved in helping to spread the message of PRFC. Keep an eye out for some exciting content in the coming months. Congratulation to Jonathon (Elvis) Reid on his election to the IRFU Young Persons council and Matty Neill who is now sitting on the Ulster Rugby Young Persons Advisory Group. Both young men will play key roles in helping shape the game for young people right across Ulster and Ireland. What they learn in these environments can only help us as a club to improve on how we interact with our young people. 

Remember, its your club, get active in helping out and as the old saying goes, many hands make light work. If you are a parent, a player or just someone with a desire to be part of a club and are interested in helping in any way at all, please feel free to contact me directly. Click here for my contact details or alternatively drop the team a message on any of our social media channels. We would be delighted to have you on board helping out with your club.

So, the excitement is starting to build again. We are almost there with a return to rugby, but we are not quite out of the COVID woods just yet. Do what rugby folk do best and keep looking out for each other, follow the guidelines and listen to the advice from the executive. We will make it through this, and I am looking forward to the day we can all meet again soon at Chambers Park.

Ciaran O’Kane, Club President 2020/21

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