At the beginning of August Leeds Rugby held their fifth Fans Forum meeting, with fans of both Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie coming together to voice their opinions towards the decisions made at Leeds Rugby.

Minutes from the Fans Forum – Wednesday 7th August 2013

Attended By:
Sian Jones, Lucy Fahey, Phil Daly, Danny Edmondson, Alistair Senior, Sue Millard, Jane Shelmerdine, Scott Johnson, Gerry Alleyn, Jeremy Wright, Andrea Green, Ian Waterhouse, Martyn Horwell, Simon Whitehouse, Rachel Barker, Mark Nelson.

Apologies From:
Danny Frank, Mark Cotton, Julie Brimelow, Paul Coward

Agenda for the Evening

· Discussion of feedback which was sent in via email/telephone
· Chat with Danny Edmondson and what his involvement is with the Leeds Rugby Foundation and the community
· Comfort Breaks
· Break Out Groups

Rhinos – (Feedback on Memberships)
Carnegie -(Questionnaire & Future Season)

· Discussion for future Fans Forum meetings and having separate forums twice a year
· Final Words

Open discussion of the Feedback –

Previous to the forum, fans had provided feedback from their own opinions and that of others:

Sian starts off with a quick explanation that the Pie & Pea night which Leeds Rugby were holding and had invited the Fans Forum has now been cancelled as it was only going to be the forum and not everyone from it could attend, so it has been rearranged that some point in the future we will hold a Pie and Pea night along with a Stadium Tour – Dates are to be confirmed.

An email was sent in asking the question about Rhinos 4 Life members and the ability to have cards like Season Tickets, as the members say they use them often and the Card ones break if they get wet etc. We have been looking into this, but there is a cost to supply them, which will in turn mean like the season tickets customers will have to pay a reprint fee if they lose/damage their card.

With regards to the website, a few people have mentioned to Sue – Nowadays a lot more of the news items are in video format and the text attached is very brief, meaning that the video has to be watched to get the content. This can present problems if you are accessing the website on a mobile, or even having a sneaky look while at work. It is also quite time consuming to watch video clips. While it is good to see footage and hear opinions ‘from the horse’s mouth’, timedoesn’t always allow. The Media department responded with – This is how the new site has been designed so unfortunately you can only put about 150 words with the video. We are looking at doing more articles separately with words where possible, as we understand we have many hearing impaired fans which this design does not cater for, however the user figures show that traffic has increased greatly since the new video options were included in the site.

Carnegie 2013-14 shirt

Scott Johnson brought the feedback forward regarding the 2013-14 Carnegie shirt he said: “I know you have the following season’s shirt designs submitted and signed off early, how early is this? I’m asking because there has been a mixed reception to the upcoming season’s shirts. The main issue seems to be the material. Polyester isn’t the best thing to keep you warm during rugby union winter season. Also the problem seems to be that you created such a good cotton home shirt last time around it will be always be hard to beat it, adding to that there was a polyester away shirt so you had the choice of materials”.

Sian responded with – The main factor is the cost of cotton, as we found out from last season and the season before, you can only order a minimum of 1000 shirts and we didn’t sell all of those, so as a business we cannot justify the cost for one season We hope to have a single kit supplier for 2014/15 season, so we will review then.

Carnegie Fans Pre-Season Open Day –

There was a mention of how the Carnegie fans would like to meet the players and the team ahead of the first home game in October, below are the details;

Leeds Carnegie will host a pre-season open day for fans to come and meet the coaches and players ahead of the new Greene King IPA Championship on Saturday 7th September.

The day will start at 9.30am with the team training on the Headingley Carnegie pitch which fans are invited to come down and watch. This will be followed by the chance to chat with the players afterwards in the Carnegie Cafe bar.

Bacon butties, tea and coffee will be available to buy from 10.30am and there will be a chance to hear from James Lowes and the players in a question and answer session from 10.45am.
This will be concluded at 11.15am and the players will be around for another half hour to sign autographs and speak to fans ahead of the new season.

Car Parking will be available on the morning in Car Parks D and E, behind the South Stand and as many fans as possible are encouraged to come down and enjoy the morning with us at this free event.

Scott Johnson passed on some information regarding the touch Rugby which has been introduced by the RFU http://www.rfu.com/takingpart/choose_play/o2touchrugby he asked if Leeds Rugby had looked into as at the moment there doesn’t seem to be anything in Leeds only Doncaster.

We have looked on the RFU website and no there is nothing in Leeds but we have passed the feedback onto the foundation. Although the Leeds Rugby Foundation does do touch rugby and it is for both codes, we will look into advertising this more.

Feedback was passed on through Danny, saying how much of a great atmosphere it was at the Children’s Day and it seemed well attended – When we asked the forum, how many of them attended the children’s day, there were many blank faces, so we asked how many had heard about it, no one in the room had. This tells us we need to advertise it more and set up some offers through the marketing team for match promotions as Danny had stated many attendees had never been to a game. We will contact the Leeds Rugby Foundation and the marketing team about this.

Pigeons

The Forum have received a few complaints about pigeons at the games – If anything happens at a game contact a steward and they will get a cleaner in if needed. Also letting us know there whereabouts helps. Although they have been increasing the culling and hawk visits to deter and reduce the pigeons.

Cafe Bar Food

The forum constantly have people giving feedback about the food in the Café Bar, but in order to improve this situation we would like feedback after each game, what they like and don’t, because a lot of this could come down to personal preference – The fans forum have said they will let us know through the email address fansforum@leedsrugby.com after each game their thoughts. The main concern is the value for money. The Café Bar will be trialling different menus going forward at games.

Thursday night games

A few comments were brought forward from various Leeds Rhinos fans regarding the Thursday night change to the London Broncos fixture and this was explained as Sky has the control to change the fixtures, Phil Daly stated it isn’t done in a malicious way, but is designed to attract the biggest possible TV audience for the game to not only promote their coverage but the game as a whole.
Two of our fans forum members were invited to the RFL Fans Forum and Alistair told the rest of the forum that Sky pays £21 Million for TV Rights. Sky contractually can re-arrange fixtures for scheduling reasons.

Carnegie on TV

Martyn Horwell asked Phil the question about Carnegie being on TV and the up and coming coverage, Phil replied all 4 semi-final legs and final legs will be televised plus coverage of the Championship has increased for the new season.

· Stuart from the York Press – Phil is contacting to have a chat about future coverage
· Gareth Jones has told us that BBC Radio Leeds will be covering home games and away games where possible.
· Ian McGeechan will be a little more involved as last season as he was involved in Lions, England and was based down south
· Phil has also been speaking with Calendar and Look North to offer free highlights for use on the Sunday night news bulletins from a secure server

Carnegie advertising
Martyn Horwell suggested the Caddick Construction Boards at Monks Cross Shopping Park (York) are a perfect location for promoting Leeds Carnegie, and we could promote the up and coming home games, and also the Carnegie Fans brought up the banner which we used to have on the A64 – we have spoken to the marketing team and they will try to get these sorted.

Fans Forum team asked that all information which has been spoken about in the Forums could be filtered through to other fans; it will always keep our fans in the know, let’s continue working together.

Everyone was not clear about one of the RFL proposals for the 2015 Season so Phil Daly explained this in further detail, although more information will be put on the website once it has been announced.

Danny Edmondson – Leeds Rugby Foundation High School Development Officer

Danny came in to the forum to send out a little more information about what he does within his job and to get some more information out about the Leeds Rugby Foundation through both codes, he started by explaining what the mission statement of Leeds Rugby is;

‘Leeds Rugby Foundation is Leeds Rugby’s charity that delivers projects in the heart of the community. Harnessing the power of sport, to make a lasting, positive impact on individuals’ lives. As Leeds Rugby’s Charity we have an amazing opportunity to truly change lives through sport.’

Danny went on to explain about how he started with the Leeds Rugby Foundation and spoke about how vital volunteering is for people to get in to the career they want to work in.
He went on to describe about how no day is the same, listing all the different projects which he and the rest of the Foundation team work on;

  • Get Started with the Princes Trust,
  • Rugby League Skills Camps,
  • Activity Camps,
  • Curriculum time coaching,
  • After school coaching,
  • Talent ID and Champion Schools coaching,
  • Champion schools qualifying tournaments,
  • Leeds & Hunslet schools cups,
  • North Vs. South Leeds Schoolboys,
  • Outward Bound
  • ‘Tackle it’ project
  • Match Day Activities
  • Stadium Tours

This seemed to intrigue some of the forum, as to how much time is dedicated within the communities, schools and after school projects, Jane asked how she could help with the charity to continue with the great work; Danny explained either through donating which would be through the Leeds Rugby Foundation, Just Giving page http://www.justgiving.com/leedsrugbyor by volunteering as many of the events and projects need people to help.

Danny went on to talk about the next challenge to raise awareness and money for the Charity, is the Quest 13 Challenge where Keith Senior, Bob Bowman (Leeds Rugby Foundation Vice President), Jessica Bowman and Danny Edmondson will all be taking part in a 13 mile run, 113km bike ride and a 13 mile row all in 13 hours. They will be finishing outside the club shop on Friday 16th August.

Danny finished his presentation by asking if there were any questions, there weren’t any but he did say if more information was required to look on the Leeds Rugby Foundation website http://www.leedsrugbyfoundation.org/home.php

Comfort Break

A comfort break was had so everyone could freshen up or refill their drinks. After the comfort break the two codes split, the Rhinos fans grouped up with Lucy and the Carnegie fans joined with Sian and Phil.

Rhinos Break- Out Group

Previous to the meeting the Rhinos fans had been sent a copy of the new 2014 Memberships, they were asked to have a read through so in the breakout groups it could be discussed. The following was brought up in conversation –

All of the ideas for the 2014 memberships have received a good response and said there was actually so much variety it was difficult to choose which one they wanted.

A comment that was brought forward was about the flexi pack and that it doesn’t state anywhere in the booklet that extra games can be added to the card after the original 5 had been seen. This will be verbally told to the people who purchase them and be put in the confirmation letter but as well throughout the season there will be reminders to add games to the flexi membership. They will also be stated in the terms and conditions on the PURL website.

There was a question brought forward about the discount booklet which has been spoken about in previous meetings, the forum asked if it would be possible to have a voucher to use in the Headingley Lodge, and they also asked if the free friend could be in there, as many forget to use them because when they are out of sight they are also out of mind The Free Friend is a benefit which the club likes to give season ticket holders, it expires in May and is looking unlikely that it will be in the voucher booklet for the 2014 season.

One comment which was brought up and not just by a female in the group, was if it was possible for people over the age of 16 to be in Sinnie’s group, 2 people from the forum said they would join for the simple fact they would receive a birthday card for their birthday – This has been passed onto the marketing department, it could be something which they look into for the 2015 season.

A suggestion by Mark which everyone agreed with was the IF forms, could they be put in the Season Membership brochure.This is unlikely as not everyone receives or keeps a copy of the brochure at the start of the season. The object of the PURL was to reduce printing costs therefore we have reduced the numbers of brochures so there wouldn’t be enough for everyone.

We also asked the opinions of the Forum to see their opinions of the new layout in the shop and the buying of tickets in there – some still haven’t seen it but the ones who have said it was a great change and a lot easier to do everything in one place but unfortunately it makes them buy more. We have just asked that the ones whom haven’t been in yet could make a conscious effort to visit and let us know their thoughts.

Carnegie Break-Out Group

With the new shirt designs been so far in advance the forum have asked if they could have some input to the design, mentioning they would like for 2014-2015

The Green, Black and White for the home shirt and for a tribute to the Powergen cup 2005 win (All Amber) as it is 10 years next season for the Away shirt or the blue and amber will be good.

The travel was brought up from the Carnegie Fans, and to try and get more people going to the away games it may be a good plan to get a season pass sorted, fans could base this on five games which they would like to go/know they can go and see, and then Leeds Rugby can do some discount – Leeds Rugby are in the process of trying to put a Travel Plan together.

The forum and Sian have discussed looking at the key matches and trying to draw bigger crowds to the away games.

The Carnegie Fans really want to make a better atmosphere at match days and are looking at ways to improve them;

They would like to have a little more entertainment, something like John Bentley speaking to an injured or ex player and get their thoughts pre game, but also for the entertainment/ speakers to start on time post match as many times they come out late and this means fans get bored of waiting and leave.

They would really like to have the Black Sheep ale in the bars, and also in the Café Bar it would be good to have a separate bar for the customers as many are queuing for just drinks and not food, this being the case fans are not buying as many drinks as they would like due to the big queues – This information has been passed on to Headingley Experience.

Fans want to be more prepared before they arrive so would like match day details like on an email prior to each game including the entertainment and the Café Bar menu could be on the website too, this way fans know what to expect at the match – we will let the marketing team, PR & Media, and Headingley Experience know this is what the fans would like before the day of the game, we will try and accommodate this.

Carnegie Fans have spoken about the Café Bar on Match day – they feel the portion sizes have got smaller and more expensive – We have spoken with Tracey previous to the Carnegie season and she knows this information, she is going to try and make the changes where possible.

One thing which was asked, would it be possible for the players to eat in the Café Bar as opposed to the Legends Suite as it makes the whole match day experience more sociable – we will propose this question and let you know the outcome.

The Forum came to a close and there had been no date decided for the future meetings, we will be having separate code meetings as well as a group one, we would like to propose the following:

Leeds Carnegie Forum – 9th October 2013
Group (Both Codes) Forum – 20th November 2013
Leeds Rhinos Forum – 15th January 2014
Group (Both Codes) Forum – 12th February 2014
Leeds Carnegie Forum – 12th March 2014
Leeds Rhinos Forum – 9th April 2014
Group (Both Codes) Forum – 21st May 2014