Message from Pamela Stevenson
President of Belfast Harlequins RFC
As President of Belfast Harlequins RFC, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our website whether you visit it as a member, sponsor, supporter or guest, I sincerely hope you find it informative.
As we all try to adapt to the ‘new normal’, we reflect upon what we all have had to endure over the last 18 months, the upheaval to our work and family lives and the loss of loved ones, which will remain indelibly etched on our minds. Now, we try to concentrate on a new rugby season and hopefully rekindling those friendships from the rugby fraternity which we have all missed so much.
The Club’s core purpose is to provide the best possible opportunities for male and female players of all ages and abilities to enjoy the game of Rugby Football. This is only made possible by the generosity of our sponsors who are crucial to the continued wellbeing of our Club and to whom I wish to extend my gratitude. It is impossible to overestimate the value of sponsorship in these straitened financial times and without it, grass roots rugby in Ulster, and indeed throughout Ireland, would not be able to continue at the same level. I urge you to show your appreciation of our sponsors by supporting them.
I would like to thank our Director of Rugby, Alan Hunter, and his team headed up by coaches Neil Doak and John Andress, for all their hard work. Despite last season being virtually a write-off, they have navigated their way through the complex and often conflicting restrictions to hold together our playing squads in preparation for the resumption of competitive fixtures – I wish them, the physios, team managers and, most of all, the players my best wishes for the season ahead.
In addition to the Senior Squad, we have very sociable but competitive junior men’s teams, a spirited women’s rugby squad and a very busy Mini Rugby section comprising some 150 children. All these teams are ably supported by a loyal band of hard-working volunteers including the members of our various committees. I thank them for their commitment and for all they have done and continue to do for the Club.
Friendship and camaraderie remain at the heart of Rugby Football and makes the game what it is today. It has something for everyone whether as a player, supporter or a guest. I want to ensure that all who come to the Club are warmly welcomed, enjoy their experience, meet old friends, make new ones and look forward to returning to Deramore Park.
President, Belfast Harlequins RFC
Message from Des Kavanagh
President of IRFU
It is my privilege to write to you in the capacity of President of the Irish Rugby Football Union for the upcoming season, 2021/22. As you know this is my second year as President, a unique occurrence in unprecedented times, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to represent you throughout the year.
The past year has had a huge impact on society. Many of us have lost family, friends, colleagues or indeed clubmates. This has been the huge tragedy of COVID-19, and these people will live long in our memories.
COVID-19 paused our domestic game competitions, but our working relationships have become stronger, and I know from my conversations with Colin McEntee, and from seeing the huge amount of work done across new platforms, such as MS Teams and Zoom, that there will be positives that we will take from this time.
The Rugby Department has worked hard during the lockdown to stay connected with all our stakeholders through online platforms; player and coach webinars, refereeing and coaching courses delivered online and a suite of webinars for our volunteers and many more. I know that this is a very busy time in clubs so anything that can help improve how we work together will be a positive.
I know we are all eager to get back to normal interpersonal activities, to meet up at committee level and to be personally involved in many of our Club activities. However, we have learned through adversity that technology may provide solutions that will help reduce the burden carried by our volunteers each season.
While there is still a lot of uncertainty ahead, it is my hope that I will get to as many clubs as possible, in line with COVID-19 guidelines, and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the year ahead.
Sport has always played an important part in our society, and as we emerge from COVID-19 rugby will help to strengthen the physical and mental health of everyone involved in and around our games. In my many conversations with members of the rugby family over the past 18 months I know that I speak for all when I acknowledge the great pleasure, we all gained from the TV coverage of our games throughout the lockdown. In this regard I am pleased to acknowledge the work of everyone involved in managing to keep the Provincial and National team bubbles COVID-free so that we could enjoy the wonderful efforts of all our professional players.
I close by encouraging us all to keep an eye out for each other – we have been through so much and some may be struggling in silence, but we will get through it shoulder to shoulder.
The very best of luck to you and all your teams in the year ahead.
Des Kavanagh, President IRFU