In January Yorkshire Carnegie Fans Forum members met at Headingley Carnegie Stadium to discuss issues concerning the club and to hear from new Chairman David Dockray

Fans Forum Meeting Wednesday 21st January

Fans Forum Members:-
Attendees: Susie Woffinden, Malcolm Robinson, Ian Waterhouse, Scott Johnson, Andrea Green, Ken Green
Apologies: Gary Marks
Leeds Rugby Attendees:-
Sian Jones (Head of Customer Experience & Meeting Chair), Hollie Fisher (Customer Experience Sales Assistant/Minute Taker.
Guest for the Evening:-
David Dockray (Yorkshire Tykes Chairman)
Agenda for the evening:-
7pm               Arrival at Captain’s Lounge
7.15pm         Fans Forum Meeting to begin  
The overview of the meeting will be as follows:-

  • Welcoming David Dockray
  • Feedback for David
  • Overall Feedback time
  • Meeting to close

Sian: Welcome everyone to this evening’s forum, thank you for making the journey in the snow. Unfortunately Gary is unable to make this evenings meeting.
Welcome David Dockray, our new Yorkshire Tykes Chairman, and thank you for coming along. We will start by the forum members giving a little background and then David can introduce himself and his new role.

  • Malcolm: I have been a fan since the merge of Roundhay and Headingley, seen the team have ups and downs. I have had some great times down here at Headingley. It would be good to see the attendance improve.
  • Andrea: I first got into the game as my husband Ken played and I watched my son play. When we moved here we discovered Headingley and we think its fab. It’s a great facility and we love the Sunday kick offs as your home in time for lunch.
  • Scott: I started supporting in 1986 by chance; I watched them in training then made my way up to Headingley. I have been a fan ever since, watching our ups and downs.
  • Ian: Originally a rugby league fan watching Bramley, however I eventually stopped watching. The year Leeds were promoted to the Premiership  I came to the final game against Worcester and I have been a season ticket holder ever since
  • Ken: Seen all the ups and downs, enjoy the rugby tremendously. Even when we are not playing well, they will always pull something out of the bag which makes me want to come back and watch. When we went to London Irish, we were the only two fans in a half of the stadium; we were jumping up and down. Everybody joins in, that’s what draws us back. We have a team based around youngish players with lots of potential, which when they leave we do find devastating.
  • Susie: I am much more of a newcomer; I first came to watch with my Mum at the Powergen Cup Final. I have seen a few ups and downs since, when you experience the lows, its makes the highs even better. My daughter now comes along to games with me. I also like how you can stand with other supporters and there is no segregation and how approachable the players are.

David: Well I am Yorkshire born and bred, a career in business which has expanded from Leeds to worldwide. I have travelled a lot with my work, however would always come back to the family home in Yorkshire when I could mainly on Saturday mornings to watch my son, who at the time was eight years old, to watch him play rugby. I went to Rotherham to watch them when they were in the Premiership and I fully believe in Yorkshire having a team in the Premiership. I am fascinated by all sport, going to Elland Road, and here to watch the rugby and the cricket. I retired from full time work seven years ago and have spent my time watching sport. I became involved in this new role whilst watching the Lions play in Australia; I was sat with Paul Caddick, Gary Hetherington and Sir Ian McGeechan, who asked if I would be interested in putting money into the Rugby Union. At the time I didn’t know what the ambition was, I didn’t know their plan or what would happen to my money, but apart from that it sounded like a good idea. I was asked to put some of my time in, so that is really how it started. Myself and Sir Ian sat down and got to grips with answering some questions.; what we wanted to achieve, what will it take to achieve it, what is a logical programme to do all these things and what changes do we make. I looked at the presentation that was done for the previous owners in October 2013. Obviously the change to Yorkshire name was critical, but the process of agreement was difficult. We had thirty people around one table, getting people to agree took six months. Before we went out to the fans we had to have the name agreed and it secured for us to play at Headingley Carnegie and use the facilities at Kirkstall. Once we had those things we had the means to take it forward, we then needed money, this process took us five months, leading up to December. We had to look at a lot of things differently, in my view the questions are; where are we? where do we want to get to? what will that take? how do we do it? then go ahead and start. Nobody, that I know of, have invested in this club for it to be a Championship club, we want a club in the Premiership based in Yorkshire, with Yorkshire businesses, with people involved who will subscribe to the Yorkshire way, that way we have a much better model.

  • Malcolm: So we don’t want the Gary Mercers?
  • David: We are not looking at that kind of model, we want people to commit. We have got to change the thought process. We now have on board three Executives in Gary, Rob and Sir Ian, along with four Non-Executive board members, myself as Chairman, Alastair Da Costa who was previously a Senior Partner in DLA Piper and is now CEO of the Prince’s Trust and Jon Wright, the Founder and CEO of Xercise 4 Less – an award-winning national gym group that is headquartered in Leeds. Professor Paul Smith, heads up our agreement with Leeds Beckett University has another two and a half years to go, over that time we want to do things to enable them to want to continue. All members of the board are striving for the success of the club. In terms of investors, we currently have seven; we will be going out for more. Some of these have given their own personal wealth with no expectation of a return, this was stated in the document presented to them. They are investing as they believe it’s worthwhile, I can only see the investors expanding. I believe we have a credible brand, the facilities and academy to see us in the Premiership
  • Scott: Will Caddick still be a sponsor?
  • David: What Paul has done is allowed us to use Headingley and Kirkstall at a reduced price for three years, he is not a shareholder. We appreciate the support he has shown us
  • Sian: Caddick Construction will continue sponsorship of the shirt for another three years
  • Sian: Thank you for that David, some of the questions asked have been answered from what David has covered. Looking through the questions, timescales have been asked for, there isn’t anything specific but we can see there is a game plan
  • David: When Sir Ian and I sat we benchmarked against two other clubs and they were Northampton and Exeter. Exeter with their development model and Northampton due to them being the only club to make money on a continuing basis.
  • Malcolm: When they were potentially moving their ground, Milton Keynes was too far
  • David: They increased their capacity not by too much; they went from 11,000 to 13,000. We are not talking a three year plan, we want promotion, survival and even European Rugby, this is a five to ten year plan. We will look at the next step and what it will take to get there.
  • Sian: For the supporters this is realistic. I think there is the opinion we could get there sooner.
  • Susie: We have heard similar in the past; however this sounds more realistic, we survive and push on. Do you think lessons have been learnt from last time?
  • David: I wasn’t involved in previous plans, however I do believe that it had some real risks and things are being done differently and lessons have been learnt. It has been a much more thoughtful approach, money on its own does not do the job, we have to build something and expand the brand across Yorkshire; widen the academy and corporate relationships. For example Satsuma, this is the indication that they have bought into the Yorkshire brand, if we were still just Leeds we would have not secured their sponsorship. With a wider market we have more opportunity to invest in squad and so on.
  • Ian: The academy, having the six regional factors. The structure is Carnegies mechanics, is it entirely up to you how its run? 
  • David: There are two factors, Yorkshire RFU, they produce one system for identifying and developing talent and we will do that with them. Those currently in the academy system will get channeled through that system of welfare, developing players on and off the field and academically. We will have more to work with than anywhere else.
  • Sian: This all boils down to the ERDPP being developed even more, we are the talent ID, and we do the feeding. It goes back to building from the bottom and driving that through to the top. It is brilliant to hear that Yorkshire RFU is buying into it.
  • David: The current map of the academy could range out further, we have ten percent of England’s population and there is something about the brand and white rose.
  • Malcolm: They do it with the cricket in a very successful way.

Will you and the board have any input in operational matters e.g. team or coach selection?

  • Sian: One of the changes brought up was the change in kick off time; this has come in since the new board was appointed. Some people are very happy with this, some not so much.
  • David: Three things, attitude has changed which has led to positivity amongst the squad and improvements in competitiveness
  • Malcolm: We have had some rock bottom performances
  • David: We have had some positives, the win at Jersey and the performance at Rotherham. The point I am making is a lot of good things have changed in a positive way and we have another board meeting coming up a week on Friday
  • Scott: We have seen coaches coming in and out, and you can tell who they connect with
  • Andrea: We hate losing but if we have had a good run it makes it better
  • Susie: I would agree that everything is looking up; we were in a winning position at London and on Sunday. We need the points
  • David: If you look at the rest of the fixtures we have a good chance to gain a good amount of points
  • Ken: You look at the Nottingham coach, he is able to bring something out of the players, and he does it season after season
  • Malcolm: I think that this weekend could be a turning point

Are there future plans to move away from Headingley (I personally don't think this is a high priority but would be interested to understand if this would ever happen)

  • David: We have signed a deal for ten years; most of the stadium will have been redeveloped by 2018. We want people to come here to watch three successful teams.
  • Malcolm: It is fantastic coming here, you can come all year round
  • We are accredited to Premiership standards here and we have no interest in any other venues
  • Andrea: I want to stay here, I love the big screen
  • Sian: Some people want the club feel, with a club house, that is why people say Otley, however I think people would be equally devastated If we moved away from Headingley Carnegie Stadium
  • Susie: Staying here is the right thing, but I do enjoy the on the road games
  • Sian: The on the road games contribute to the Yorkshire vision
  • David: Headingley is our Premiership vision, there is great value, the clubs that hosted the game on the road fixtures put in a lot of effort
  • Sian: On the road is a building point, we want to get the new academy feeder system out there, promoting the brand and getting as many people involved. At this point we now know a lot more from having David here. This is something which I feel would be beneficial to communicate to fans, possibly in the form of an open evening. There is a lot more been decided on since before Christmas which I think is key for the fans to know and understand
  • David: That is definitely something we would like to do. This is why I am glad you have welcomed me here this evening. We want to do a lot of work with the communities, working with supporters, clubs around Yorkshire, sponsors, players and support staff. Everyone needs an insight into what is going on.
  • Malcolm: If I win the lottery I would happily give the club some money
  • Sian: This is one of the great things about the board of Yorkshire Carnegie supporters. It’s a two way communication.
  • Andrea: The feedback I get is mainly negative although I always ask them to give me a positive
  • Sian: We don’t want people to come with problems and have no idea of a solution
  • Susie: It is almost a crossroad, for example with the change of kick off time. That is something the forum have achieved, which shows we can make a change. Although you are not going to please everyone all the time. I think if we go ahead with the evening for the fans, get some good positive wins, it will only be positive. I think before Christmas no one knew what was really happening next. Now we have heard what David has to say and the plans, putting this out to the wider audience can only be positive
  • Sian: I think the evening is something we will definitely look at doing, an evening with the board, which means at games and around Headingley you can say hello to the new board members
  • Ian: Having Gary, Rob and Sir Ian on the board means there is still the connection. They have your confidence and with their ability let’s go with that
  • David: My logic around that, the three individuals; Sir Ian, an iconic figure, attracting players, players staying and influence from the RFU. Gary; he has run a very successful business in Leeds Rugby, which complements with my business experience. We can pick half a dozen issues and we all come at them from a different view which is great
  • Malcolm: The key is getting bums on seats
  • David: I think moving forward in the Carnegie Times before the Worcester game there was nothing in there about the change, due to them already been printed. I think putting a short write up and advertising the open evening with pictures of the new board members
  • Sian: We will get it in for the Moseley game. We have discussed the board, one question about operational matters

You come from the world of business with an extensive experience in your chosen field and, in addition to this we are told that as a member of Headingley Taverners for a number of years, you have extensive links with the Headingley set-up.

In your new role as Chairman of Yorkshire Tykes Ltd. where do you see your major input into the day to day operation of a professional rugby union club comes from, and how important are both the professional expertise and the “supporter” element parts in that role?

  • David: The business of rugby club is conducted by Yorkshire Tykes. There are certain names for a particular reason, to approve plans, allocate funding, this doesn’t mean having control over the selection of the team. Leeds RUFC Limited which is Gary and Chris Gibson, it’s their job to run the business according to the strategy. We will discuss the shape of the squad, what particularly we are doing with the academy. It’s a real  opportunity to have a clear plan, look at the cost of the squad and the expectations
  • Scott: A number 10, before he went we had no cash, is money now available to get a number ten, if that’s what we require
  • David: The new money from the investors can be aimed at that sort of thing. Like I said we have a board meeting in which it will be discussed
  • Sian: I feel that David has covered everything; we have had some things cross over. Is there anything else you feel we have missed?

Given the financial issues that Plymouth are going through- and the financial inequalities in the division – do you think a fully professional 2nd tier is sustainable? What input do you believe the RFU need to have to this?

David: There has to be a change in the economic model between the Championship and Premiership. There was actually a meeting last night with all the CEO’s of the Championship clubs to discuss that question, there will need to be some changes. Looking at what is the role of the Championship clubs, are they feeder clubs? that is not what they plan to be.

  • Andrea: We could have gone up last year
  • Ken: It’s all very well having a stream of money, but you have to find thirty players who want to play together
  • Malcolm: We have a fantastic academy to develop
  • Andrea: If as a player you were offered to go to the Premiership you would, they have a short career. I like the fact we play on a Sunday and I don’t mind the odd Friday night
  • David: We do prefer to play on a Sunday, Friday nights are ok sometimes. Obviously there is the risk of clashing with the Rhinos and we don’t think Saturday is the right way to go. Personal view is a 3pm kick off is better, it allows the kids to play in the morning and still be able to get here to watch the game, the kids get people in.
  • Scott: Find the balance of more corporate on Friday but more fans on a Sunday
  • Sian: We have had a few Friday nights, the majority being Sundays
  • Ian: It can effect away teams
  • Sian: Rotherham on the Friday night should have been bigger however we were on a poor run, if we had a Friday night now it may be different
  • Susie: Get a couple of good results it will change the feel good factor
  • Sian: Having worked in this game for nearly 12 years, winning doesn’t always mean bums on seats. We need to get the name out there, with wins it will get people intrigued
  • Susie: Loosing is also a quick way to lose the bums on seats we have

Short comfort break

  • Sian: So onto feedback, we had a piece come in which I sent to Sir Ian and Chris Gibson, a lot from what David has said this evening will answer; I did receive a response from Chris.

Feedback Question:
The poor performance from the team comes as no surprise and is a direct result of consistently poor management on the part of the clubs executive.
Extremely poor recruitment of the head coach (cheap option), alongside  ridiculous replacements for senior players (McColl, Rowan, Hampson, Green, Tusac, Sisi, Ford, Hughes et al all replaced by a cheaper option. Squad left with no senior 9 or 10 no disrespect to them, and lack of experience has shown in tight games. 
Q: Do you think the paying public are fools? Two steps backwards again! Who can we realistically attract (player or coach) given the market rate seems beyond our means? If the marketing project has been worthwhile, can we finally secure a top class 10 that has been missing for the last couple years!
Time for change! Significant ongoing investment in experienced players is required to support our youth development if Yorkshire is to have a sustainable premiership club. Anything else is the same old dream that's a complete waste of time (cheap options don't work).
Look at the financial reality of what we are competing with (Bristol, Worcester, Newcastle and London Welsh), and as a minimum compete with them, or is the truth we are happy to be promotion chasers on a shoe string? Here's hoping we are more than just dreamers, and that fans are told the truth about where we are heading.
Feedback from Director of Rugby – Chris Gibson
We have finished in the top four in the last two seasons losing narrowly to teams that were promoted
(Newcastle & London Welsh) who spent significantly more on their playing squads than we did. 
The ‘ ridiculous replacements for senior players ‘  were recruited by a Head Coach who had already demonstrated his ability to improve & develop players & introduce a style of play which was admired throughout the game ( 18 wins out of 23 in the league )also  B&I Cup Final.
He was happy with all players signed including Leonard & Pilgrim he backed himself to improve them & had demonstrated an ability to do so, so we had no reason to doubt him. Despite our league position the team have shown in recent weeks than we can compete with the top two teams which is a truer reflection of the ability within the squad. I would ask the supporters to also remember that Burdon has not played this season & other senior players like Fitzpatrick, Jones, Myerscough & Beck have been absent for long periods. If these players had been fit for most of the season we believe that several of the games we have lost by small margins would have been reversed and as a consequence our league position greatly improved.

“Significant investment in experienced players” We believe that the squad can be improved by signing 5/6 players and the work to do that has already begun.

  • Andrea: Did that person send in anything positive?
  • Sian: Everyone is obviously entitled to their own opinion. Looking at recent fixtures, we were positive against Worchester, we lost our footing in the last twenty minutes.
  • Ian: In terms of players, Harry Leonard has had a rough time; he had an excellent game on Sunday. It looks like a confidence issue. I posted on the message board, one year ago on the bench for Gala next to a guy being picked for the Scotland’s Six Nations squad, there is such a fine line
  • Sian: I think the confidence has been built from a culture change in the team
  • David: The theme throughout the feedback is there seems to be an argument that we are looking at the least cost option. I would like to say that is not the way the board thinks. We want to be clear on what we are trying to achieve and what we have to do. The least cost option is not consistent with the ambition, I would turn that round and say what is the ambition and what is it going to cost
  • Scott: Every team will have players depending on what they can afford, loan players in the past have been good to have.
  • David: Yes they can be good, but also runs the risk when at the end of the season they go back
  • Malcom: Jonah Holmes is a cracking player, it was very positive when he came back and we signed him
  • Ken: I don’t think that Wasps have a better player than Jonah, if they do they are keeping him under wraps
  • David: What makes the difference is game time, more game time the faster a player will develop. Look at Paul Hill and young Walker, the more game time they get the more they improve, they also need access to good help in terms of mentoring. Compare that to the approach with Premiership clubs, they take any number and don’t give the players as much game time, they don’t develop and they get spat out. That’s not what we want to do
  • Andrea: We have spoken to players who have said they have been worried about their contracts, not knowing what is going on
  • Sian: At the time it was different, now there is a plan with where money will be going those discussions will be happening. As a player you have to make those decisions, am I going up or am I in need of some backing. The academy system along with the welfare gives them career movability. On Friday there was a group of our players at the Marriott, they did some cooking with the players association. It was great, in a comfortable environment and changing mentality
  • Andrea: It not just the money, it's the ambition
  • Sian: We want them to believe in the ambition of the club
  • Susie: The Jonah signing is a positive
  • David: The cycle will be that some of our academy stay with us longer, and get stronger ready to move into the Premiership with us.
  • Ian: Get them to believe and stay
  • Sian: Rolling onto the next bit of feedback

We’ve had season tickets (6) for a few years but we are finding we are seeing very few matches this season (the on the road policy) and the matches we have seen have been disappointing. The feel of the club seems different. Could just be our perspective. Thinking we are unlikely to get season tickets next year. Wish the club well but sense trouble

  • Sian: Hopefully we can get this person along to the open evening and they may feel more confident going forward. We haven’t had a home game since Worcester, which is a long time, it’s still the same amount of home games. The B &I cup games have to be crammed in before Christmas which is why we seem to have had such a gap.
  • Ian: Why is there a blank week second week on January?
  • Sian: This is scheduled for any games that may have not been played
  • Andrea: January is always a depressing month

A lack of games at Headingley this season has me wondering whether to renew my season ticket for next year. I've always been a strong advocate of the club, but the combination of away fixtures and "home" games played in the corners of Yorkshire on the wrong side of Leeds from where I live (near Skipton) means that I don't feel like the season has truly started yet, despite being more than half way through.

I understand that the new branding means that the club needs to be more visible and have more presence across the county, but I think that not including the cup games in the season ticket, added to the distances involved, meant that many of the home fans are not attending those games.

In turn, that lead to a general lack of enthusiasm from me and many of my friends. I don't know if I'm typical.
For next season, can I suggest two obvious options? Either:
1. Play all home games at Headingley; or
2. Include cup games in the season ticket.

  • Sian: We are unlikely to have all home games at Headingley. We work out membership prices on the league fixtures no the B and I Cup. These games are very much likely to be kept on the road to remain with the Yorkshire vision
  • Malcolm: The double header at the beginning of last season wasn’t a success
  • David: No it wasn’t
  • Sian: I can see what they were trying to achieve, it didn’t really work, but you have to try these things
  • Susie: It’s an alternative to sitting and not doing anything

I am most disappointed that the Sunday kick off time has been changed to 3.00. It is said to be at the “fans request”. I attend all Sunday home matches (to date there have only been two at Headingley on a Sunday) and most certainly was not asked my opinion. I feel a minority have forced this change on the majority. A website poll would have seemed the fairest solution.

  • Sian: Unfortunately not everyone will be happy with this, the reasons have been explained earlier this evening.
  • Scott: It was put out to the fans, it was asked in the Lewis Jones suite and three quarters of the room said yes to changing

Volume on PA system too loud in terms of music played at half-time. Please consider reducing this for comfort of those remaining in their places throughout the interval period. (Time Trial, John R)

  • Susie: It doesn’t bother me
  • Andrea: I have never noticed
  • Ian: Is it pre-set from the Rhinos game, as its different when there are fifteen thousand in the ground
  • Sian: Yes there is more people to cushion the blow. We have a specialised company that do the Rhinos fixtures. I think the in house system  may need checking

The Hoody is not made by Kooga, therefore, it is not worth buying. 

  • Andrea: This was quite a passionate plea
  • Sian: There were some made by Kooga, we have just sold out. The Kooga stock we have is the old Kooga stock and we were given an amount. If you look Worcester had something very similar to us. We then put in something to replace the sold out hoodies as we will not receive any more Kooga stock this season. We are not in a position to place big orders.
  • Malcolm: Do we sell a lot on the internet?
  • Sian: We do not no, that’s why Lee (Head of Retail) has been out and purchased extra bits
  • Malcolm: We should not miss an opportunity to sell online
  • Sian: There has always been an online shop
  • Andrea: If people aren’t buying then it’s fair enough. You can go into the shop on a Saturday and the Rhinos fans are queuing to purchase merchandise. I think the person was upset as they didn’t have the size they wanted and had to get a different item
  • Sian: We have really tried everything, I ran the Yorkshire Carnegie retail for the last six or seven seasons and I have bought in so much and it hasn’t sold. There is limited space in the shop, and we will always have one of each size out on the shop floor. The staff will always go and check sizes for customers if the size isn’t out, it must have been sold that day and not replenished. We try unique things like the Christmas Jersey and unfortunately they don’t sell
  • Andrea: Was lovely, but expensive
  • Sian: We will always try get as many items in, equally we can come under fire
  • Andrea: We do appreciate it, like I say the Rhinos fans buy a lot more as they have a bigger fan base
  • David: For next season maybe we could get some cheap t-shirts and give them to kids, make them a walking advert, get people asking where that shirt has come from
  • Andrea: We used to have big flags
  • Susie: Give to kids who come to the games
  • David: If we put them out there, then kids at school or rugby will see them, and want one, which may lead to them purchasing a replica shirt, could be our best walking advert
  • Sian: Did anyone get one of the free “Ey-up” t-shirts
  • Andrea: I did yes
  • Malcolm: Did anyone buy anything from the three minute spell
  • Susie: I did
  • Ian: I got my jacket
  • Scott: It was announced when we were five metres out. The half time game, is it a full sized ball?
  • Sian: As far as I am aware
  • Andrea: I really though Andy was going to do it

Half time would it be possible to show the first half highlights.

  • Andrea: This person said if you haven’t got the facility they would do it for you
  • Sian: It is easier said than done, as you have to get the clips together in time, and you only have the fifteen minutes to show them. I will suggest it but I doubt it, unfortunately the place where it happens is not wheelchair accessible
  • Scott: It is a good idea

Why is the beer prices different in each bar?

  • Sian: As far as I am aware they are not. In the past we have sat for ages and spoke with Headingley Experience about this. I would like to know which bar. I will check again at the Moseley game. The Long Bar is different as it’s a corporate bar

Could season ticket holders have a beer and food discount?

  • Andrea: I always get the food and drink questions
  • Sian: The food and drink is dealt with by Headingley Experience, I will say it is unlikely to happen, they do meal deals, you never know
  • Malcolm: The free programme does it for me

We haven't had any away travel organised by the club this year, I know it hasn't always been well supported, but what are your views on this going forward?

  • Andrea: On the ones we have, there has only been three of us
  • Sian: Hence why I am reluctant, very doubtful unless have a big game
  • Andrea: If it is difficult we can ask the driver to stop, we have started to pick Ian up on the motorway
  • Sian: If you want picking up along the way let us know, obviously we don’t want to end up picking everyone up

The official highlights are enjoyable to watch but sometimes it can be hard to follow where in the game they are, or what the score is, would it be possible to have the clock and/or score in the frame as well.

  • Sian: I will put this forward, I am imagining it's a lot of work as Phil likes to get them online as soon as possible. I will ask if James Bletsow and his crew can amend them
  • Susie: If you’re not at the game it can be hard, for example at London Scottish game the yellow card and two tries. Would have been interesting to know the period of time they were scored and if the player sent off was back on the pitch.
  • Sian: I will put it forward. Even if we have a spin screen that states when the second half has

I think ideas have been put forward before on the food offering at game e.g. hog roast – what are your thoughts on this?

  • Sian: We now do have hot pork sandwiches in the Café Bar, I asked them to do these and they are very nice and are going down well
  • Susie: I wouldn’t often go in, but if I knew I could get a decent sandwich I would
  • Sian: The gentleman that does the concessions around the ground have spoken about doing hot pork sandwiches also
  • Susie: Maybe we should promote it more
  • Sian: It was put on the website, maybe announcements needed

We are not performing well as a club results wise this season. The play off positions are a long way away at present for us. Do we do enough to stay up in the division and have a recruitment drive when players become available towards the end of the season.

We must keep the crop of the academy players at the club if we are to progress. What steps are we taking to keep them?

How are we to use the Satsuma sponsorship money?

  • Sian: These feedback questions, we have covered with David and the response from Chris Gibson.
  • David: I think the way we look at it is as an overall budget. How much on the squad, then on the medical support, how much on the academy expansion, which we will get sponsors in for that. There is the cost of Headingley and Kirkstall and management. After that to be honest there isn’t much left. Lots of people do things for nothing. The majority of the budget goes on the team.
  • Malcolm: The situation is difficult at the minute, in February if we get some good results, we can then maybe think about play offs. If we don’t then we have missed a season, shall we wait and make an early investment. I don’t want an answer from this it is just a suggestion.
  • Susie: We have some winnable games coming up
  • Malcolm: We can get twenty points
  • Sian: We have to strike whilst the iron is hot, we don’t have a transfer window. Players will now start to look around
  • Andrea: Three year contract for Jonah is brilliant
  • David: Hopefully more of that to come
  • Sian: We need players to believe in us, if we are in the Championship next season we have the ambition to get to the Premiership
  • Scott: The more we keep the better start to next season
  • Sian: We need to build a team that can compete in the Premiership
  • Andrea: If we would have won and gone up last season most would have stayed
  • David: At the end of season dinner, the players nominated were leaving
  • Andrea: It was dreadful
  • David: We have to avoid that this year

A few people have mentioned whether it would be possible to get Richard Parks back to do a talk on his life after rugby and the various challenges he has undertaken. It's quite topical at the moment as his programme is on TV currently

  • Sian: Susie sent this in today and I haven’t managed to get an answer, he loved it here so I should hope if we went to him, possible at the open evening
  • Leanne Flynn (PR Department) We have asked him on a number of occasions and unfortunately his diary has not allowed him to do that but we are planning on doing an event with him in the neat future

Questions for David Dockray

  1. There has been considerable debate amongst fans as to the relative strengths and weaknesses of various “models” regarding the ambition and subsequent running of a professional rugby club, particularly one with ambitions of achieving sustainable Premiership involvement, and that which seems to find most favour being the so called “Exeter Model.”  Towards the end of last season the board of Leeds Rugby had prepared various options to suit potential scenarios which might ensue but this year I would suggest the picture is somewhat clearer. In view of the current position of Yorkshire Carnegie have the new board been able to determine a clear pathway which they would wish to aspire to, in making progress on the stated ambition of the newly named Club?
  2. Have you been involved in a sports organisation before?
  3. Is it part of your remit to court new sponsors?
  4. What do the new board see as their highest priorities over the next few months
  5. We have heard a lot about the vision for Yorkshire Rugby  – what do the board believe the steps and timescales are to achieve sustainable Premiership success?
  6. Yorkshire Tykes is a new concept, which has attracted some criticism from other (South) Yorkshire clubs, what do the club/board think the best way is to communicate effectively with existing fans and attract new fans to games?
  • Sian: All answered throughout minutes

Minutes of Forum Meetings need to be available quicker than is usually the case and, if recollection is correct, there are still some not posted from earlier in the season!

  • Sian: This is down to me; I do try and get them out as soon as possible. Obviously it takes time for me to re-read them through. IU am sure they are all on but do let me know if any are missing
  • Sian: That includes all the feedback, thank you for everyone for coming. Please a big round of applause for David