“Chairman Ben Jones speaks at a pre-match lunch”
This season may have seen some disappointing results on the pitch, but Holt Rugby Club is going from strength to strength in terms of its contribution to Norfolk rugby and to the local community. Much of the credit must go to a determined committee led by local Holt farmer Ben Jones.
Ben is in his first year as Club Chairman but for four years he served as chair of the minis section. He has coached a junior side since 2003 and has taken the current colts team up through the age groups. Holt have invested considerable time and resources into their junior sections and up to twelve junior teams take the field on a typical winter weekend. There can be as many as a hundred adults providing the coaching and administrative support to maintain this effort. Such an investment produces long-term benefits: in one match last season twelve of the first XV players had come through the junior sections.
It was mini-rugby that led to Ben Jones’ involvement in the club. He went along to support his son Kees and was asked to take on a supporting role for the Gladiators – the team for four and five year olds. He readily agreed and as he puts it: “with Rugby you are never short of friends, and many of them become friends for life”.
Ben himself had played rugby at Gresham’s School but then concentrated on his other sporting love – rifle shooting. Once he had become involved in the minis he was persuaded, in his mid 30s, to play again and regularly appeared for the 3rd XV as a second row or back row forward. His best moment came in in 2012 when, at the age of 46 he scored the try that gave the 3rds victory against arch-rivals Diss. He played only two more games before concentrating on his administrative role.
This year Holt have been chosen to host the Norfolk Rugby’s Big Weekend. This is only the second time that this event has taken place and it will be a considerable challenge for the club and the resources at the Bridge Road ground. On Saturday May 6th three senior Norfolk finals will take place: for the County’s first XVs, second XVs and third XVs. The following day, Sunday 7th, will see no fewer than seven finals, all involving youth teams. For further details see the club’s website, which will be updated as the programme is finalised
Holt are seeking to recruit 100 volunteers to assist over the two days and offers would be appreciated. Fortunately there is plenty of parking at Bridge Road and all spectators will be most welcome. This season Holt were presented with the Eastern Counties Rugby award for club facility of the year. The weekend will be a big test of that accolade, but one that Ben Jones and his committee will relish.
To volunteer to assist at the Holt Rugby Big Weekend contact Joanna Storey
This article first appeared, in a slightly different version, in the Holt Chronicle, (10 March 2017). Text Martyn Sloman; picture Stuart Young
Updated 15:46 - 19 Mar 2017 by Joanna Storey