This is really exciting news from our friend John Birch in the UK. His blog for the Letchworth Girls helped their club earn a Modernization Award from England’s RFU (that’s England’s national union!), including a cash prize, for reaching out to their youth players.
John’s blog is really a great example of how rugby teams can use free and new technology to help their players and fans.
From John via e-mail:
15 May 2007
England’s most “modern” club?
It was announced this morning (Tuesday) that Letchworth Rugby Club have being chosen as overall national winner of the first RFU President’s Award for modernisation.
The award – one of the “President’s XV” Awards – was given in recognition of the work of the girls’ section of the club, and in particular their use of electronic communication to keep players and parents in touch with everything that is happening in the club, and beyond.
Central to this has been the “Letchworth Girls Blog” (http://letchworthgirls.blogspot.com) – a news and information service which started just over a year ago and is now one of the most well used sites for girls and women’s rugby information in the UK, if not beyond. This despite its being firmly centred on the activities of the club and its players, with occasional forays into the wider game.
Key to the success of the “blog” – effectively a rolling news service – has been the way it fit in with the communication methods preferred by teenagers, for whom not only is printed information a bit old hat but even email is (as one recent survey put it) “for old people”.
The “blog” offers a newsfeed which can be incorporated into anyone’s “home page” on popular services such as MySpace and iGoogle, alerting readers to new stories as they appear without them having to keep logging into the main site. It also gives opportunities for readers to comment and debate any articles appearing.
The immediacy of the site even keeps parents in touch with their daughter’s activities when they are playing away from home or on tour by allowing reports to be filed from the touchline via mobile phone messaging – so scores often appear on the “blog” before the girls have left the field!
One result of this is that what would otherwise be a small junior club side is now one of the most well-known teams in the country, with even a small overseas following.
Team manager John Birch, who set up the blog, is delighted by its success – “It has worked better than we could ever have dreamt. It seems to have gone beyond just a means of keeping the girls in touch with things to becoming a significant tool in promoting girls rugby across the board.
“I know that coaches attempting to set up girls sections of their own are using it to show their clubs what can be done, and I hear from some managers are turning to the Letchworth blog first when looking for news – before even turning to the RFUW website.
“The only mystery perhaps is why there are not more clubs and teams doing the same thing – in the UK at least (there are plenty of US rugby teams with similar sites). Its effective, simple – and above all free”.
A trophy and cheque for £500 will be awarded to the club at a ceremony on a date to be arranged.
Meanwhile the girls are always looking for new players – and, for next season, coaches. “It is no co-incidence I think that our head coach this season has found himself picking up a series of awards”, continued John, “as one thing we can guarantee is that what you achieve at Letchworth will get you noticed. For any young coach looking to make a name for themselves this is the place to be!”.
Visit the Letchworth blog for even more info on how they earned the award.
Congrats to John and all of the Letchworth Girls!