Dear All,

The level of activity across all areas of the Rugby Club during the pandemic has been impressive. All of it has helped to keep our Rugby Family engaged and united during the lockdown, and also, I believe it has helped to maintain the fantastic morale across the Club.



On the rugby front the big news is that the remaining 10-point suspended penalty which was hanging over the 1st team during last season has been removed by the RFU and Cheshire CB. That means we start next season with a clean sheet. Although the penalty was directed against the 1st team the sanction was against the whole Club. The disciplinary rules of the RFU operate collectively for all teams in a club, from U13 upwards through all senior teams. In our case that is 11 teams and our collective disciplinary record over a number of previous seasons had been poor. The Club’s disciplinary record last season was exemplary and my thanks go to all the players, coaches, managers, parents and supporters for your contribution to that change. It is a credit to the Club that, having started the season with a 20-point suspension, we reduced it to zero by the time the season ended.


This change in behaviour must continue; the core values of rugby: Teamwork, Discipline, Enjoyment, Sportsmanship and Respect do have real meaning and should be embraced in our Club culture at every level, for players and non-players alike. One could argue that these same core values have a very real place in our lives outside of the rugby club as well.



Andy Appleyard and the fitness team have been doing great work with the Macctive virtual training workouts. These have been available to everyone across the club to help them keep fit during the lockdown. Using Strava recently has added a bit of edge to the competition between individuals to beat each other’s performances.


We have been keeping a close eye on the regular updates from the RFU regarding training and will enter phase B of 6 phases on Tuesday 16th June when the 1st team will commence training according to the guidelines which are available on the Club website. Basically, pods of up to 6 individuals from different households can train together and share equipment providing that hygiene and social distancing discipline is maintained. 4 pods of 6 can train using ¼ of a pitch each. Physical contact is not allowed. Please contact Andy Appleyard if you have any queries or want to arrange anything on the pitches. He will advise and control the activity and please make sure you follow the official guidelines.



I am pleased to report that recruitment to the 1st and 2nd team squads is going well, despite the lockdown, and also, I hope many of you will have seen the wider recruitment advertising that has gone out on social media. To all of you out there who know of someone who might want to join us at any level, please encourage them to come along to a club night, as soon as we can host them. The club night is a great opportunity to introduce new players to the Club. They can pitch-up to train and share a pie and a pint afterwards. If we can get volunteers to lead regular training, at a social rugby level on Thursday nights, that would be terrific!

I am delighted to see that there is real momentum, behind the introduction of Girls U13 rugby, to the Club next season. Phil Mason has been working on this for some time with Pip Gregory and others, and it will be great to see it happen.



The Club has had no income since the lockdown started in the middle of March, but we proactively introduce new initiatives; starting with two big initiatives that we would encourage members and followers of the Club to engage in, if they can. The Club launched the ‘One Club Draw’ a few weeks ago, to replace the old ‘200 Club’ and ‘500 Club’ draws. There are ten prize draws a year with cash prizes! The first draw has just taken place and the winners have been announced. Please Click Here for details or contact Andy Appleyard for information.

For a minimal cost you can win cash and support the finances of the Club; we would encourage as many as possible to sign up. In addition, we are all looking forward to The Family Race Night on Friday 12th June. This has been very professionally organised by Frankie Barker, Matt Coleridge and others and promises to be great fun. You can bet on each race; own a horse, sponsor a jockey and a range of other things all for fun and for a good cause your Rugby Club.

Please click here for more details and to book your tickets. 


Our President, Pete Harper, had the brilliant idea of setting out an area to play Petanque at the bottom end of the car park and this has been warmly received, well certainly by some of the more liberally sport-minded Alikadoos. Dave Marchington, of sponsors, Marchington Stone, has very generously donated 20 tonnes of grit for us to lay a playing area, over the next week or so. Apparently Petanque is not Boules (Bool) by another name but similar (Oh yes it is Ed). Watch this space.


On the Media and Sponsorship front it has been interesting, informative and very entertaining to follow all the activity out there. The recent weekly Podcasts have helped me learn more about individuals in and around the Club than I have ever known. The guests have been eloquent, very open in their interviews and entertaining. A huge thanks must go to Matt Coleridge and Frankie Barker for organising the podcasts and long may they continue. The introduction of the ‘More than rugby’ articles to promote our sponsors has been really informative and I hope that the membership will continue to support the Club’s sponsors at every opportunity. We have also put together a formal sponsor’s pack which has been distributed to individuals and businesses in the community to encourage new sponsors to join the Macclesfield Rugby Club family. Many of our sponsors will have been significantly affected by the lockdown and may not be in a position to support the Club as they would like to, for some time, so please give them your business if you can. Louis Smith at Hunters Gin is offering to donate 10% of the sale of every bottle to support the Club – and the gin is excellent!  The pack comes with good information about the Rugby Club, its aspirations and its place in the community. If you know of an individual or business that might be interested in sponsoring the Club, please contact Andy Appleyard and he will send them a pack and/or contact them following an introduction.


Despite there being no rugby since the middle of March, our very own Wilkey, ably supported by Bob Jenner, has kept Macclesfield Rugby Club represented in the local Macclesfield Express with articles and photos about the Club and about individuals both current and from the archives and currently our ‘Greatest Games’. Exposure in the local press is important as we reach out to the wider community. If you have anything of interest please contact Wilkey, and he will work his journalistic magic for you. When we start playing again it would be great if teams were able to send Wilkey a match report after games for inclusion in the paper. The more publicity we can get the better.


We should also thank Phil Mason and his small team for the work they did to promote mental health during mental health week and also to the 1st team who put together an amusing but meaningful video together, promoting the: ‘reach out, listen, don’t judge’ message. Mental health remains a serious issue, particularly amongst young men, and Phil and the team are taking a long-term view on what we can do to help.


Socially people and groups have been very active across social media with quiz nights, virtual rugby tours, producing videos etc.; a good number of age groups and teams have been keeping in touch and doing stuff to keep them engaged and occupied through the lockdown. As the lockdown lifts, we will keep everyone informed and get back to the ‘new normal’ as soon as we can, and through all your efforts, we will return stronger than ever.



Throughout the lockdown The Barbecue (Maggie & Barry) have continued to supply a wide range of meat pies, veggie pies, fruit pies and quiches and I would like to thank all those people who have bought from The Barbecue and helped them keep going. Maggie and Barry provide all the catering for the Club and have been hugely impacted by the lockdown. Every Pie helps!


Finally, we are following the advice very closely in respect of the Clubhouse and will do what we can, when we can to start opening up some facilities – watch this space!


In the meantime, please stay safe, keep up the activity and support your Club where you can and we will see you all soon.


Stephen Branch




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