Call in at Old Anselmians Rugby Club’s Eastham playing fields any Sunday morning and you will find any number of budding young rugby players.
The only downside is that England’s early departure from the World Cup may mean these youngsters are dreaming of being the next Dan Carter or Michael Hooper rather than Chris Robshaw or Owen Farrell.
Old Anselmians was created when a group of Old Boys of St Anselm’s College got together after the Second World War through a shared love of rugby. Since 1947, the club has produced any number of quality rugby players, the most recent of which, Chris Pilgrim, has played for Newcastle Falcons, Yorkshire Carnegie and the Barbarians.
Jason Abbott recently became Chairman of Old Anselmians with a specific brief to prepare the club for the next chapter in its history.
Two key elements to the club’s plan are the creation of a junior academy to put in place a proper structure to continue to bring through talented young players as they progress through the age groups.
The second element is the building of a new clubhouse which will set the club on course to fulfil its ambition of becoming the premier sporting/social club in Wirral and West Cheshire.
The plans for the new clubhouse reveal how the changing facilities would be at ground level and a new function suite, bar and viewing balcony to the first floor.
The combined strategy fits with the club’s stated vision to become a centre for player and social excellence.
Jason, who separately owns Proactive Property, a property investment and management company, says: “I got involved with the club through my eight-year-old son who plays mini-rugby on a Sunday. I became Chairman in April because I felt I could use my business skills to help shape the vision for the future.
“Jim McKenzie, our Director of Rugby, is a passionate believer in the importance of having a player development programme from the youngsters starting out in mini-rugby through to the senior teams.
“We are also fortunate to have Simon Mason, an Old Anselmians legend and former Irish international, as the Captain of our 1st XV. Simon and other first-teamers are getting more involved with the junior section, giving the boys and girls people to look up to and passing on coaching skills to the dads.
“There is a very positive vibe about the plans we have. We have always been a family club and will continue to be so. But we also have an opportunity to build a thriving club for the future offering the best possible playing and social experience.”
This article has been published in the latest issue of HM Magazine, available here