It’s been an important week. On Monday we submitted our representation to UK Sport giving our reasons why we believe that the decision to cut all of our funding should be reversed. The document we presented is the result of a great deal of detailed work. I would like to thank Professor Vicky Tolfrey who many you will know as the Director of the Peter Harrison Centre at Loughborough University, Dr Viola Altmann who many will also know as an IWRF Classifier, Tim Reid our solicitor from Hogan Lovells, and our Trustee Simon Le Fevre, all of whom helped Lorraine and I put together what I believe to be a very strong case. We now wait until 7 February when we will present the substance of that case to the UK Sport Board in person and when we hope to be able persuade the board to look again at the decision it has taken. Meanwhile you will have seen that our situation continues to attract the attention of the media and I expect that to continue in the coming weeks.
But whilst all this goes on it is very much ‘business as usual’ and it is important that we don’t let this situation, worrying though it is, distract us from our main job of making sure we provide great experiences for everyone who wants to play our sport. On Monday evening I travelled to Lilleshall for the start of the GB Selection Camp. It was great to see so many new talented athletes alongside those who were part of our Rio squad and I was boosted by the real sense of energy, excitement and optimism when I spoke to everyone. Staff and athletes just want to get down to work and get on with the job of preparing for the European Championships in June. Whatever the UK Sport final decision, we will make sure our team not only take part in the tournament, but that they are the best prepared team in Germany, and go on to win a consecutive European title, confirming that they are one of the top teams in the world. It is going to be exciting to see how our new and very talented young athletes blend into the squad – there really is lots to look forward to!
There is just a week to go now before the start of the next Super Series weekend. I know that teams are getting ready for these with the Division 2 matches taking place in Stoke on Trent on 28/29 January so I hope the training sessions are going well. The development team is busy and Kirsty, Stuart and Amanda have been in Wales this week meeting with Ospreys and Scarlets to find out more about how we can work with their community projects. The BT Youth Programme has been delivering sessions in Leicester and Northampton, and we have also supported the community coaches at Northampton Saints where we have run our ‘Safe Session’ course. One area I really need your support with is Safeguarding. If there are any Club Welfare Officers who have still to complete the online survey then can you please do so quickly. This is a vital part of our safeguarding requirement and we have to meet the Advanced Standard of Safeguarding by the end of March or we will not qualify for future Sport England funding. Please do give this your full attention. I hope by now that you will have also seen that we have confirmed that the BT National Championships will take place in Leicester on 13-14 May.
On Thursday I was in the BT Tower, courtesy of our partners BT, with our ambassador Mike Brown who did some filming for us ahead of our campaign launch and before he gets ready to join the England squad for the start of the RBS Six Nations. Stuart Robinson, one of our newest recruits to the elite squad joined him and we have captured some strong film footage to use later. Mike and I also gave an interview to Martyn Zeigler, sports correspondent of ‘The Times’ which we should see reported early next week.
Do make sure everyone you meet registers for the campaign on the GBWR website – and do make sure you use you use social media to keep up our messaging to #saveGBWR