Colchester Rugby Club President, Maggie Whiteman, told Rugby Blindside about the club’s new state of the art facilities and what they mean to the club.
Not only can Colchester boast being the oldest recorded town in Great Britain but it can now be equally proud of having an amazing, brand new, state of the art and purpose built rugby club.
The Club was co-founded in 1925 by a Kiwi doctor, Alfred Nolan-Fell, which explains why the team strip is all black, however the away strip is red, which reflects the town’s colours.
Our badge features Colchester’s raven, hence the naming of the new club; Raven Park. We are in the process of thinking of names for our function rooms to reflect the history of the Club, something of which we are truly proud.
The facility has the use of 2 AGP pitches and 7 grass pitches, alongside 8 changing rooms, each with integral facilities and 3 function rooms.
The Club’s crowning feature is a covered balcony which runs the whole length of the Clubhouse and will prove to be the most popular place to watch the rugby.
Due to Covid restrictions, the Club has been restricted to outdoor activity over recent weeks, however we look forward to opening the Clubhouse fully towards the end of July with our very first 10s Tournament in memory of Tom Miller – a brilliant young rugby player who tragically lost in life in December 2020. Tom was an ambassador for Odd Balls and proceeds from this event will go towards this charity.
Rugby-wise, the Club runs 5 senior sides, with the 1st XV playing at level 6 in London North. The team missed out on the opportunity for promotion in the 2019-20 season due to the abrupt end of all sport when the lockdown hit in March 2020, however they are preparing themselves for another shot when the new season starts in September.
On Sundays over 600 Mini & Youth players have either training or matches from U6s to Colts. The budding Iceni Women’s team train on Wednesdays and Touch Rugby for all ages & stages meets on Fridays for fitness and fun.
Like most rugby clubs in the country, we just would not function without a host of volunteers from those who sit on the Executive Committee to coaches, parent reps and managers. You name it and we need a volunteer, apart from employing Claire our full time General Manager and Dawn our Catering Manager.
It was all hands on deck on the 1st and 8th May when an army of volunteers, plus vans and trucks turned up at our old Clubhouse in Mill Road to move everything over to our new home – a home that had been in the pipeline for 8years! It took many hours but it was literally like a family moving home – with much banter and good humour.
That’s what’s so brilliant about rugby – it is about family and the respect we have for all who play, have played, those who hold the whistle, those who encourage young players and all who just love to watch.
Colchester RFC is always keen to be part of the community and each year we hold two main events. In the spring we organise a Community Day in aid of local charities.
At this you will see stalls, a fun fair for children, touch & 7s rugby, performers and a range of food offers alongside a beer tent. In November we hold a spectacular fireworks evening. Hopefully now that the pandemic is coming under control we can return to sharing our new facilities with the community of Colchester.
We are also very fortunate to be supported by many local businesses whose sponsorship is invaluable and they have been an integral part in our move, helping to finance important aspects of the Club such as TV screens, electronic scoreboard, storage equipment, kit and office furniture.
So for Colchester RFC the future looks bright and we hope to open the Club ‘officially’ before Christmas with a formal dinner and prestigious speaker – fingers crossed!
We know that we are very lucky and the stewards of wonderful facilities that we want to use for the benefit of the great game of rugby, for our members and the wider community.
It’s an exciting time for Colchester Rugby and we look forward to a better 2021-22 season. As I am sure everyone can appreciate, it has been difficult to build momentum, but the club move has come at just the right time. Raven Park is an inspiring environment and it is now up to our coaches and players to drive Colchester Rugby onward and upward, ultimately delivering a brand and standard of rugby that is commensurate with our new home.
If you should ever visit the oldest recorded town in Britain then please do come and visit its newest rugby facilities at Raven Park; Cuckoo Farm Way, Colchester CO4 5YX.
This article appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Rugby Blindside magazine – Read the full issue here