Thursday, 26 November 2020

Enjoyment the key for new chairman

THE new chairman of Henley Rugby Club has promised fans that it won’t sacrifice enjoyable rugby to succeed in National League 1

THE new chairman of Henley Rugby Club has promised fans that it won’t sacrifice enjoyable rugby to succeed in National League 1.

Mike Trethewey, of Queen Street Mews, was appointed as successor to Phil Woodall at the club’s annual general meeting last month.

The Hawks were promoted in May as champions of National League South 2 after scoring the highest number of points and conceding the least.

Trethewey, who was named Clubman of the Year in 2010, is keen to ensure the club continues the free-flowing passing style that won so many plaudits last season.

The 68-year-old, who has experience as managing director of companies such as Dunlop Slazenger European Golf and marketing roles with various other brands, believes his career background will help him in the role.

He played rugby at St Andrews University but admits he is no expert on the game.

He said: “I don’t bring rugby expertise but what I do bring is business experience for sports and food companies.

“It’s a small business and it needs to be run professionally as a small business. If the business side of it doesn’t work that doesn’t give us the wherewithal to run the great rugby we’ve seen this season.”

Trethewey, who has previously helped to raise £150,000 by running the auction at the Star Ball and been marketing director for the club, believes there are two driving forces in the club — its playing an attractive style of rugby and maintaining enjoyment.

He said: “About three years ago we had a couple of professional coaches from outside the area and it didn’t work out so we brought in Steve Barnes, an ex-captain of the Hawks.

“Henley had a previous reputation for playing the sort of rugby they played this year. But they lost their way and the first guy to get that back was Steve.

“He started to build the free-flowing passing game we saw this season.”

Barnes’ replacement Nigel Dudding and director of rugby Mike Poulson have stated that the club will employ coaches from its pool of ex-players from now on.

Trethewey is keen to embrace this ethos, saying: “We may lose a game because our game is about going forward and attacking so if you are committed to that you can be vulnerable.

“But we won’t sacrifice our principles of playing free-flowing rugby if that happens. We will take it on the chin.”

Trethewey wants to ensure players and supporters continue to enjoy the game in National League 1.

He said: “If there’s no enjoyment then why are we doing it? There’s no reason to do it otherwise.

“We obviously want to get as high as we can in this league. Of course we want to win games but not at the expense of dropping our style of play.

“It makes product attractive and if you’ve got something attractive that people want to watch they will come through the gate and pay money.

“Then it comes full circle because if they do that, we can attract sponsors.”

A league and club record crowd of 3,270 watched the final-day crunch match against Worthing Raiders.

It included a number of spectators who were making their first visit to Dry Leas and Trethewey wants to see more new faces at home games next season.

He said many of those were enticed by posters advertising the event and offer discount vouchers for entry.

“We’re totally involved in the community as far as our sponsors, who are hugely important to us, are concerned,” said Trethewey.

“We’re playing rugby for the community to watch and hopefully we’re drawing people into the town. During the season something like 2,000 people use our facilities in some way.

“A town needs a good rugby club like it needs a good rowing or hockey club. I want us to become as famous as some of those things.”

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