The most successful rugby clubs are the ones which continuously evolve, an ethos Camborne RFC are applying with their plan to become one of the top sides in Cornwall, writes Andrew Clayton.
The Cherry and Whites, who play in South West Premier, can boast an illustrious history reaching back to their establishment in 1878.
Vying for supremacy with local rivals Redruth, Camborne went on to enjoy periods of prosperity throughout the last century, strengthened by their bonds with the Cornwall county side.
Spurred on by a burst of new investment this season, the level five outfit made a raft of signings and upgrades to kit and transport, as they cemented their status with a ninth-place finish.
The Recreation Ground, where Camborne signed a 99-year lease with the town council at the end of 2017, after decades of ownership by the county council, has meanwhile benefitted from the process of regeneration. ‘Project 2018’, as it is known by the club, has seen improvements to the grandstand and the changing rooms backed by a fundraising campaign, and continues to rumble on in the background.
While the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) has left many rugby clubs reconsidering their financial outlay, Cherry and Whites chairman Andy Gill told The Independent that he is keen for his side to press on when circumstances allow.
He explained: “The county council hadn’t invested a huge amount in the Rec since it had been built – I think the changing rooms are the same ones I played in 40 years ago!
“As a committee and a club, we decided we’d get the facilities into some sort of modern state. We’ve tried to do it under the radar, when we can. We’ve crowdfunded the project and had a response on that, and we have a grants master in Martin Symons chasing money for projects like this.
“It’s a process that’s open-ended; you can chuck as much money at it as you want. The trouble with sport is that you might as well throw your money down the drain, for anybody willing to involve their personal wealth in a sports club.
“But, we’re keeping it together, beavering behind the scenes. Our financial director [Peter Floyd] is totally on the ball and he’s assured that our finances are in good shape and we’re fairly confident that, when rugby is given the go-ahead to continue, we’ll hit the ground running. Although, when that will be, I don’t know.”
On the pitch, Camborne have looked to bolster their place under director of rugby Liam Chapple, and made it back-to-back finishes in the top ten following the Rugby Football Union’s final league placing back in April.
Comparisons with National League outfit Redruth, however, are hard to avoid given their history. Gill says he sees no reason why the Cherry and Whites cannot reach the same heights as their long-standing rivals though – or even go further.
He continued: “Our aim is to remain at the level we are on now, but on my wish list is to see us go as far as we possibly can.
“We’re always fighting with and being judged against our neighbours up the road, Redruth, playing at a higher level. As a Camborne man, I’d like to say we can play at a higher level than them, if not above.
“Clubs are always evolving through personnel. New players and members come in, old ones leave and it’s a process very much like that. We’ve got to be on top of that and hopefully we can build.”
However, the chairman was also quick to point out that not everything going on at The Rec revolves around the first team.
“Trying to do it as a community side as we are; that’s a big thing for us. Rugby clubs aren’t just a preserve of 20-something males, we’ve got to appeal right across the board.
“Hopefully, we’re something for everyone. There’s always something going on, be it our juniors or women’s teams, or even just activities down at the club.
“First and foremost, we are a rugby club and what pays the bills is the first team. But, there’s scope for other sections to do their thing and enjoy it.
“Hopefully, you build something there and see progress through the system.”