It is now over two months since our last senior men’s game at Rosslyn Park and since then the world seems to have turned upside down.

The lockdown measures were announced on Sunday 23rd March and since then Richmond, in common with all sports clubs and indeed all businesses, have been careful with our cash, spending only what is necessary to keep the club ticking over.

Who would have imagined two months ago that “furloughed” would become one of the most commonly used words in the English language. We have furloughed a number of staff and I know how hard that is for everyone concerned. At the same time I am grateful to Jimmy Wallace, Andrew Bardwell and Jen Gadsby-Peet who have volunteered to take a temporary 20% pay cut despite the fact they are still working. I am also grateful to Steve Hill who has waived his bonus for achieving promotion to the Championship.

Although we have made as many cuts as we can and taken advantage of the various government schemes on offer, we are pushing ahead with our planning for next season. Our groundsman John Davidson is working hard to ensure our pitches are in the best condition they have ever been in. We have also installed a new water tank to ensure John can water all the pitches when they need it and to prevent them from drying out over the summer.

Since we last played, we have of course quite properly been restored to the Championship, though sadly our Richmond Women have been ejected from the Tyrrells Premier 15s, following a retendering process conducted by the RFU. Our Women will now play in the Championship South and I am sure they will be stronger than ever.

As with most things at the moment, we do not know when the 2020/21 season will start and whether we will be allowed spectators. Like all rugby clubs, we need the crowd for our finances and will await further clarification on this matter. The RFU and Premiership Rugby’s agreement with the Championship expires this month. Most of you will have seen the announcements from the RFU about the cuts in the money to be paid to the Championship clubs this coming season. As things currently stand we will receive around £400,000, over £160,000 less than we did when we were last in the Championship. We are waiting for confirmation from the RFU that the money will still be paid despite their declared financial problems and that the Premiership clubs will make their contribution of £65,000.

As you will have seen from earlier newsletters, our principal sponsor Gallagher have withdrawn after six years. We are very grateful for their support and for all our sponsors who have continued to support our club. We are now looking for a new principal sponsor and if any member can suggest a replacement we would be very grateful.

A number of Championship sides have rejected their full-time professional model for next season including our neighbours London Scottish. The move to the “Richmond Model” should make it a more level playing field when the season eventually starts. Despite all the problems, all club sections, players, coaches and everyone connected with Richmond can’t wait for the season and for the big match against Saracens and their galaxy of stars.

Some clubs, including Coventry, have made special appeals to their supporters for additional funding. Because of Richmond’s prudent financial model, overseen by Peter Moore for many years, we are not at that stage yet. But I do urge you to renew your memberships on 1st July and if possible encourage others to become members to get us through this uncertain time.

This has been a difficult period for everyone and our strongest thoughts are with those who have lost a family member or friend due to COVID-19.

I would like to express my great sadness at the death of David Buchanan. Former Richmond player and President who was a true Richmond man to the last. My sincerest condolences to Topsy, Henry, Simon and Polly.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

John Heaton

Richmond Rugby Chairman