The Leeds Rugby Fans Forum Christmas meeting took place on Wednesday 16th December and the Forum members enjoyed a pie and pea supper and heard from guest speakers, former Leeds Rhinos player and now Head of Player Welfare, Kylie Leuluai and Yorkshire Carnegie player, Phil Nilsen.

The below minutes are in a new, condensed format and include all feedback which has come in from either Forum members directly or via fansforum@leedsrugby.com. The responses to all feedback are also included so if you send in emails prior to these meetings, the minutes include the replies from the Club.

If you have any feedback that you would like to be discussed at one of the Fans Forum meetings then please email fansforum@leedsrugby.com and this will be discussed at the meetings and published in the minutes shortly after the meeting has taken place.

Fans Forum Meeting Wednesday 16th December
Fans Forum Members:-
Attendees: Rachel Barker, Mark Nelson, Jon Williams, Sue Millard, Gerry Alleyn, Sam Brightbart, Susie Woffinden, Gary Marks, Malcolm Robinson, Ian Waterhouse, Danny Frank, Andrea Green
Apologies: Simon Whitehead, Alistair Senior, Barbara Senior, Mark Nelson
Leeds Rugby Attendees:-
Sian Jones (Head of Customer Experience & Meeting Chair), Jessica Ives (Customer Experience Telesales /Minute Taker)
Guests for the Evening:-
Head of Rhinos Player Welfare – Kylie Leuluai
Yorkshire Carnegie Player – Phil Nilsen

Introducing Head of Player Welfare – Kylie Leuluai

Kylie joined the club in 2007 and has won six Grand Finals, 2 World Club Challenges and 2 Challenge Cup Finals.  He is the most successful overseas player that Leeds Rhinos have signed.
From all of Kylie’s experiences he has now become Head of Player Welfare and here is how he       describes his role:

“From personal experiences when you are a young rugby player and rugby is all you think of for your future.  When it comes to deciding when the right time to retire from the game you don’t know where to go or what to do.  You have focussed on your career for so long and succeeding.
My role now is to make sure all our players know what they are capable of doing anything they want to do.  For a player to go from a rugby career to a 9-5 job won’t happen easily as it is a huge change for them.  It is now my role to make sure they know all the options and generally make sure that they are happy with the present and the future.”

Introducing Yorkshire Carnegie Player – Phil Nilsen

Phil is one of the longest serving players at Yorkshire Carnegie behind Mike Shelley, Rob Rawlinson and Tom Palmer.  In 2016 Phil will be celebrating his testimonial that he has been granted by the club.  He spoke about how he came to the club when he was 17 after being picked up by the        academy:

“I originally came from Sale and moved up here on a scholarship at Rishworth School.  I played at the school and got picked up by the academy when I was 17.  I was in my final A Level year there and I was told that I could come to play for Leeds Tykes.  I had the choice of going to University or come to the club.  My mum and dad helped me a lot financially and supported me so that I could go to      University and train with the club at the same time.  After my first year of training I was offered a contract.  I played number 8 and then Stuart Lancaster moved me into the front row.  I remember having the chat with him about it and he said in order for me to be a premiership player I need to move to the position of Hooker. He said I had the right mentality to do it.
The reason I have stayed here so long is that my family have settled in Leeds and we love the place to bits.  I can’t wait to celebrate the testimonial I have been granted and hope to have some really good events in place for it”.

Feedback from Sam Brightbart – Fans Forum Member
I was in the clubs shop over the weekend. I usually just pop in on match day so don’t get to look round for as long. Something what has always puzzled me and you have probably have had this question a million and one times but why is there no changing room? I saw one fella changing in the middle of an aisle, his wife had to shield him it was slightly awkward, I wasn’t fussed but he was embarrassed. This could put fans off buying worried that it won’t fit.  Also it might have been my mistake but i didn’t see any returns policy sign, most clothing retailers now have a sign at the checkout clearly showing this. Obviously now is the time for xmas shopping and people might be worried what they can / can’t return after xmas. I might have missed the sign so apologies if I did. The online shop is now looking superb. Some friends and family always moan about prices but as I have said in previous meetings now is the time to make money. I read that £1 from every home shirt sold is going to Carl Abletts testimonial i think this is a brilliant idea, i read this online but didn’t see any mention of this in the shop. Maybe a poster in the shop to let the fan know would be an idea, just gives out that positive feel.
Response from Lee Jenkinson – Head of Retail
We don’t have a changing room because unfortunately there simply isn’t room. The store is too small as it is so to reduce the space even more to include a changing room unfortunately isn’t feasible. I know this isn’t ideal and will put some people off purchasing but our hands are tied.
I’ll sort out a returns policy sign. We are generally quite relaxed on post-Christmas returns as long as they haven’t been worn and have the labels in we will accept them during January.
The home celebration at the arena was great. It gave both fan and players a different environment to celebrate our awesome season. But I was surprised that at the arena there was no merchandise stands? A perfect opportunity to buy / sell.
Lee: We didn’t have anything to sell really unfortunately.

Feedback from Joseph McGuiness
You got the golden gamble results to be posted on the club website which is great, any chance they can start putting the Rhinos For Life results up?
The weekly results can be found http://www.therhinos.co.uk/club/leedsline.php

Feedback from Paul Wilson
Can you get confirmation whether we’re getting new ST cards issued for next season?
Sian: I can confirm you will be getting new cards for the 2016 season – this is not normal practice however with the change to the new ticketing system – full details can be found in the story below
http://www.therhinos.co.uk/news/27884.php

Feedback from Matthew Watson
Something that was brought up on one of the Facebook Leeds Rhinos forums was that of fan packs. These are very popular in the NRL with most clubs supplying them to their fans. They’re not free I believe and are an additional cost if you require one, but the idea is to allow fans who want them to support their club wherever they are based.
So for instance in a pack it may contain branded merchandise such as a baseball cap, scarf, backpack, car sticker, flag etc but all branded with a “Member 2016” etc on it. There’s different types out there and they’re easily searchable on the web. Just an idea anyways to get the name and brand across to many more throughout the city and further afield. I know for instance of Sydney Rabbitohs members based in Leeds, a link to their package here http://membership.rabbitohs.com.au/packages/international-membership/
We have a membership level that is Gold membership and with this you pay £25 to upgrade from Silver to Gold.  With this you get additional benefits like the Players Bar access pre and post-match, a gold member’s gift pack which includes lots of additional gifts and we hold a Gold Members Met the Player event within the season.

Feedback from Ian Waterhouse
Has any consideration been given to hot drinks service in North Stand Bar?  At half-time, when of course there is a time constraint, the existing facilities fall short of the required level at normal times, let alone when there is additional demand as at the London Welsh game. The existing equipment dispenses (slowly) only single drinks which quickly creates a backlog. Perhaps this is done deliberately to cover up the lack of staff working at that end of the bar!
I will raise this with Headingley Experience and see if there is something that can be done to alleviate waiting during peak times.
NB I did not ask at this match, but do the bar sell Bovril as an option! (A relevant question for the winter sport!)
Sian: Bovril is available in some bars but this is something we will look at supplying in all the bars that are open on match day.

Feedback from Gary Marks
Firstly want to say well done for the switch to Headingley for the first on the road game can’t have been easy to get it changed at such short notice.
Sian: Thank you for such positive feedback.
I think the Satsuma surprise boxes at half time worked and added a little extra to half time.
Sian: Thank you for this.  This is another ‘You Said We Did’ type mention that the forum have discussed.
Feedback from Sue Millard
A comment from a North Stand member that the music at half time is too loud to allow conversation.
Sian: We have now got a brand NEW switch situated in the North Stand which allows us to vary the sound in all the stands.
A member who doesn’t use e-mail or the internet posted their renewal form and cheque but hasn’t been sent a receipt and is therefore worried that it hasn’t been received.
Sian: This has been checked on the ticketing system and we have received all the details for the membership. We will contact the member and make sure everything is confirmed.
Lastly, something which I think has been mentioned before i.e. would it be possible at busy times in the shop to have a ticket collection point solely for tickets which have been ordered and paid for? It is frustrating queuing for long periods behind people who have complicated ticket orders and goods to buy when all you need to do is collect tickets.
Sian: This is a point that has been mentioned to the retail staff and has been re-iterated.
Feedback from Susie Woffinden
The tannoy on the South Stand- still complaints that it is too loud for some people. However this is by no means everyone’s opinion, I don’t have a problem with it. Is it is on a pre-set volume?
Sian: As mentioned in Sue’s feedback we have now got a dimmer to control and isolate the volume in each of the stands.
I see the meal deal on 27th is being promoted, what will the offering be in the café bar on this date. Really liked the carvery but not sure if this would be so popular 2 days after Christmas
Sian: I will be speaking to Tracey about it in the Café Bar and maybe discuss the options of a Pie and Peas lunch rather than Christmas style food.
The Carnegie Times online- this does seem to be popular, however it is a bit hit and miss as to when it comes out – can you feedback on when it should be out
Sian: This will be a point that we can feedback to our Media & PR department and aim to guarantee a time it will come out.
Finally – acknowledgement from the players to the fans has gone by the wayside again- home and away- can you have a quiet word please
Sian: This will be feedback to the team and the coaching staff.

Feedback from Phil Goodfield
Last season the very successful pre match kids club took over the Carnegie Café Bar from the Gold Members and Gold Members were moved to the Long Bar. The Long bar is a great facility – when it is busy – but when it’s really quiet it’s quite uninspiring and dull and that is how it was for the most part last season pre match, as Gold Members clearly voted with their feet in the most part and did not use it before the game.
Post-match I’m sure it’s really busy and a great place to be with Rugby AM, the players, post-match speeches etc, but this is of no real consolation to me, my son, my brother and my dad who are all Gold Members and have different reasons for not staying around after the game – my dad is 88 and my son is 12 – and plays rugby on Saturday morning, so we go home after the game.
As well as being a fairly dull place to be the choice of food on offer is clearly inferior to that which is available in the Carnegie Café Bar before the game, with the priority being to serve sponsors in the partitioned off part of the Long Bar. Being able to half hear a player speaking to those assembled a few metres away from you enjoying a meal (but not see the player) does compound the negative vibes for the Gold Members on the other side of the partition!
I completely understand that the Carnegie Café bar is a great place for the kids disco, that they are the future of the club and that winning the youngsters is vital for future success, but I just want to make the point that it is a shame that this has been at the expense of long standing supporters of the club, many elderly, who are Gold members and also need looking after!
I’m not sure what the solution is but would be interested to know if any thought has been given to improving the pre-match offer for Gold Members in advance of the 2016 season.
Sian: The Long Bar pre and post-match on a match day will now be hosted by Rugby AM and Alex Simmons so the entertainment will be heightened pre-match to provide more for Gold Members. We have endeavoured to offer the same as we did in the Café Bar on a match day however there was never a real huge take up on food in there so we have only slightly increased it in the Long Bar. The facilities available in the Long Bar are the same as the Café Bar hence why the move made sense. The Café Bar is an ideal location for a family zone on a match day and it is something we need to bring in for our match day experience to improve. Hopefully you will see with the addition of Rugby AM in 2016 an improved atmosphere.

Feedback from Thomas Callard
May I please ask how the winners of various competitions are chosen. Not that I have any problems with any of the successful winners. Thank You
Sian: The winners of the competition are chosen at random from the entries we receive on the Social Media platforms where we promote it.

Feedback from Doug Mitchell
Leeds Rhinos, great team, great supporters. But, Headingley Stadium! North Stand – great in the fifties and sixties, but we are now in 2015!!!!….seating and viewing conditions are appalling.
Western terrace – an absolute disgrace for a team of Leeds’ stature.
What are the plans for a stadium to match the team?
Sian: We are always ensuring the stadium is up to the necessary standard for our fans but a complete overhaul is no mean feat and requires a substantial amount of money. Over the coming years there will be developments taking place hopefully.