Community sport depends upon, and thrives on, the concept of partnership working. We talked to Perthshire RFC to explore what makes the perfect recipe for successful sporting partnerships.
What makes a great tackle in rugby?
A combination of timing, tenacity, strength and bravery — and the same can be said for the best way to approach partnership working. Perthshire RFC is an example of successful this approach. It is delivering a flourishing club programme, thanks in no small part to how it has perfected the way it works with its local community.
‘Partnership enables us to reach a wider group’
Discussing why a collaborative approach is important, Andy Cummins, Director of Rugby, told us: “We are always looking at new ways of encouraging participation in rugby. Working in partnership enables us to reach a wider group and it’s a great way of maximising resources. There’s no doubt that working in partnership has helped us to strengthen our offer to the local community.”
An example and a catalyst for more
The RFCs School of Rugby epitomises successful collaboration. It keeps the club, school and governing body working closely together. And it has been a catalyst for other partnership developments.
This link between Perthshire RFC, Perth Academy and the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) works as a successful participation and progression programme.
Andy told us: “We have some excellent examples of pupils taking part in the School of Rugby and going on to become club members, gaining skills in refereeing as well as playing.
If you look at Perthshire RFC’s School of Rugby, you can see it illustrates the characteristics of successful partnerships:
Identifying the right time for an effective partnership can make all the difference. The timing needs to be right in terms of other commitments from the parties involved, resource availability and a sense of shared priorities at that time.
Never giving up
A partnership programme like this would never come to fruition if those involved were the kind of people who gave up easily. Tenacity is important so partners can support each other for the duration (it may be a long time) to keep going until the finish line. The team at Perthshire RFC believes this is the biggest component of working together.
Jerry Saunders, Head of Senior and Under-18 Rugby, told us: “We’re always looking for new partnership opportunities. If we don’t immediately get the answer we’re looking for, we always try to look at the issue from a different angle, try to understand the other party’s concerns and overcome them if we can.
“The partners involved in the School of Rugby are all committed to delivering a programme that brings tangible results to the children involved and we work hard together to constantly develop the programme.”
One of the major benefits of a successful partnership is the opportunity to combine strengths to make the sum of the parts greater than the individual parts themselves. The success of the School of Rugby programme is down to the combined strength of the partners.
Individually, each partner would not be able to deliver the programme, but together, resources and expertise can be maximised, creating opportunities for young people to play rugby.
There are times in every partnership when the people involved need to have the courage to share their vision. Perthshire RFC’s strategy of prioritising club and school links, focusing on club development at every age and reaching out to the wider community — for example by encouraging more girls to play rugby — are all brave steps.
Playing the long game
While a rugby tackle may be measured by immediate and short-term impact, the approach being embraced at Perthshire RFC is a long-term game. The club is thriving and has its eyes firmly set on developing and extending community partnerships that they believe are the most sustainable way to a successful future.
As a club, they are committed to a culture of positive communication — and the energy and passion for participation, development and partnership is clear.