As most of you will now be aware, 2021 will mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Club, and we have been putting plans in place over the last 18 months to create a sustainable platform for the Club and for rugby in Cambridge University for the next 50 years.
It will be no surprise to you that the old model for running and financing Cambridge Rugby, which worked reasonably well up until 2008, is no longer viable. We have incurred operational losses in the last 3 financial years and this cannot continue, it is simply not sustainable from our reserves. We now have to look to new ways of securing our future, not least through the advancement of a long-term fundraising and development programme. This will be delivered via a five-year campaign which will be called “Red Lion 150”. The success of this will depend very much on the support of our Alumni, and many of you have been very positive in your responses throughout the development phase.
As a Club, we remain committed to ensuring that talented rugby players, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, enter an environment that develops each individual’s rugby abilities. The Club has put considerable effort into both its access work and coaching, and we saw the first fruits of that at Twickenham. 2017 sees the academy structure enter its second year, aimed firmly at nurturing the best undergraduate talent at Cambridge.
We have assembled a strong team of former players and other supporters to guide the Club through its current challenges. One of the central areas of our plans will be to create many more regular opportunities for alumni engagement with all club activities throughout the year, and this year will see two major events with the Hurlingham Club Dinner on 26th April 2017 and the 70th (incredible I know) staging of the Steele-Bodger Match in November – I urge you to support both.
Having stated all of the above, of one thing we are certain; none of this will happen unless we are able to inspire and energise a wide-cross section of our Alumni and friends to support Red Lion 150, and we have already engaged proactively with an initial core group of you. We hope that everyone will participate positively with the campaign over the coming years, and there are many more details of events and ways to support Red Lion 150 later in the Gazette, and also on-line.
Playing rugby and studying at Cambridge provided each of us with an unrivalled platform for future success in life. I had a wonderful time at Cambridge, in substantial part because the Rugby Club provided opportunities, experiences and friendships that have shaped my life. It is an honour to be President of this great Club, especially at a time when we stand on the threshold of a huge opportunity, and I very much hope that you will and support us in whatever way you can.
Professor Mark Bailey, President CURUFC
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