HIS new role may only be a temporary one, but the new rugby development officer for Eastern Counties will work tirelessly to help clubs – both big and small – thrive in the area.

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Dave Broadwell, has taken over the role on a temporary basis, until the RFU appoints a successor to Lee Adamson, and he will be overseeing the development of the county’s local clubs by identifying their needs required to go forward.

The former referee development officer for London and the South East was referee development manager until his post was made redundant in September, and also spent a decade on the national panel of touch judges, officiating in one Premiership game.

“I knew this patch as the Eastern Counties came under me. I enjoy the new challenge. I don’t know how temporary the post is, but I don’t think I will want it permanently because of the travelling,” said Kent-based Broadwell.

“But I want get involved as much as I can. We have to grow the clubs, and you can only do this by supporting the society that surrounds them. We need to grow rugby in the schools and link them to the clubs. Towards that end there are now four community rugby coaches in place in the Eastern Counties.

“There are challenges in this area – it’s a wide travelling area, there are perhaps too many clubs chasing too few people, and some financial instability.

“In London you can have six clubs in a small area, all thriving because they have big turnovers.

“But the clubs here have to be prepared to embrace change if they are to grow. We can sew the seeds, and hope they respond.”

Broadwell believes the game in the county is in decent shape and he will do all he can to see as many clubs thrive as possible.

“I will be doing ‘health checks’ on clubs and finding out what they have got and what they need, in terms of funding and coaching development, to grow and increase their membership numbers.

“I will be attending the Stowmarket Youth Festival this weekend and that will give me the opportunity to see if the club does proper refereeing briefings for instance.

“I will be going to clubs and finding out. Do they have sufficient coaches? Are they qualified? What do they require?

“The strength of the clubs in the county varies. You have some very big clubs – the likes of Bury and Stowmarket – with good grounds and facilities, who can attract players into the area.

“But it’s difficult in the Eastern Counties. In London there has been a huge change, in terms of growth in employment, whereas Eastern Counties’ status will remain fairly static.

“You will also get youngsters from Eastern Counties that will go away to university and not always come back.

“There has been a drop-off at some clubs and growth in others. It is all about maintaining a balancing act.”

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