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Nottingham chairman reflects on promising season

WHILST Nottingham Rugby's season came to a disappointing finish against Bedford last Friday 10 May, club Chairman Alistair Bow took the opportunity to reflect on a promising season for the Green and Whites.

Crowd semifinal

EYES ON THE FUTURE: Nottingham chairman Alistair Bow reflects on season of great success. PIC: Alison Bowden.

Despite losing the two legged semi-final 49-38 on aggregate to Bedford, Nottingham finished second in the league - the club's best ever result in the Championship, and also qualified for the quarter finals of the British and Irish Cup.

In fact, it was the club's highest league finish in more than two decades since their relegation from England's top-flight.

"We set ourselves a target of the top four at the start of the season and a place in the cup quarter finals. We finished the league in second place and achieved our cup ambition. Whilst we would have ultimately loved to have gone one stage further in either or both competitions, on reflection, we are not too disappointed with the overall campaign", said Bow.

The Green and Whites finished three points ahead of Bedford in the league, beating their Midlands rivals at home in January and losing out in the away fixture to a cruel try in the eight minute of stoppage time. Nottingham also proved valiant opposition against the promotion favourites Newcastle, holding the Falcons for 65 minutes of the game in the Northeast, and only losing out by two points at home by a kick in the last five minutes.

"We have proved this season that we can compete with the very best teams in the league. With the exception of Newcastle, we got results against all the other promotion chasing clubs, including Bedford, Leeds and Bristol," Bow said.

"We've done this with tight resources and a relatively small playing squad. It's testament to the whole coaching, playing and conditioning team, that we did as well as we did. They should all be congratulated. They have done a fantastic job."

It's also been a pretty good season for the club off the field. Despite the recent announcement concerning the need for new investors, excluding the play-off semi-final, match day incomes and attendances are up by 40% and 29% respectively. The average crowd is almost 1,700 and with over 3,000 attending for the play-off semi final, Bow is confident that a financially self-sufficient Nottingham Rugby is not far away:

"We set ourselves some challenging targets for the business side of the club this year and we have achieved some excellent results. We've increased attendances and incomes, when most clubs in the Championship have struggled to standstill. We have invested in our community programme and started to re-establish Nottingham Rugby as a creditable brand in the local rugby community, helping to create our fans for tomorrow. I would like to say thank you to all our supporters, sponsors and community partners, who have helped make this possible."

Another part of the club's marketing strategy for the season was to create an all round entertainment experience at Meadow Lane in an attempt to encourage new fans to try out Nottingham Rugby. The addition of pre-match pyrotechnics, cheerleaders, half-time fans activity and a series of local musical performances has created a buzz around the club and helped to bring fans back for more.

"The whole team has been working tirelessly and combined with the help from a very loyal group of volunteers and the local community we have managed to put on a great show on match-day. We've had some fantastic events, with the Fireworks back in November and the boys and girls brigade bands on Friday being the highlights for me. I would like to thank everyone involved with the club, without your help we couldn't have achieved what we have this year."

So, the future looks promising for the Green and Whites who have had their best season for over 20 years. But, in order to maintain this momentum, investment is still needed and the loss on Friday doesn't mean it's time to have a rest.

"We've had some encouraging conversations recently and the Board has secured some initial investment to help us with the finances, but we've still got work to do, both this season and next. With playing matters finished, the players and coaches will quite rightly put their feet up for a little while, but our hard work has just begun. The Board desperately wants to continue the forward momentum and deliver the vision of bringing premiership rugby to Nottingham. We want to be challenging for the top four and the chance for promotion again next season and to do this we need new investors."

When asked why Nottingham is different, Bow continued:

"We think we've created a very solid base - the club reached its first play-off semi, it has contracts in place for the majority of the squad for next season, it has excellent training and playing facilities, and we are busy securing agreements with existing and new sponsors. All this makes me confident that we'll be able to find the new investment needed and at least retain our position at the top of the Championship next year."

Nottingham finished second in the league - it's highest ever position and qualified for the semi-finals of the play-offs, losing out to Bedford for a place in the final. It's hoped this is the start of a special period for the club and not a one off success.

 

2013-05-15T09:45:00

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