Sun 19 Sep 2021 21:32

Work continues on the two main rugby pitches at Whitelands. We hope to be able to start using them by the end of the month. At that point, the Juniors who are still training at the Cooper School will move to Whitelands, marking the first time in decades that we have had a single home to accommodate the whole club.

Feedback from the Minis at Whitelands has been very positive, albeit with a few teething problems that are inevitable as we and Legacy Leisure (LL) learn both how to work with each other and what each other needs. We’re three weeks into the new season, after 18 months of having no access to a clubhouse. LL also have never experienced the increase in footfall even just our Minis are bringing. We’ve sourced more storage and cooking appliances for the downstairs kitchen. And LL is hiring more staff and adding more beer taps. Watch for even more improvements in coming weeks, and keep the feedback coming.

For the Juniors and Seniors, the current lack of access to the 3G floodlit pitches during the week is frustrating. Particularly when we know the pitches are fully booked and unavailable to us, but often seem to be empty. The miscommunication that has been so common during COVID when all the stakeholders involved were not able to meet and discuss freely has led to this. It’s nobody’s fault, just circumstance. But both Councils, the sports bodies and LL are all working hard to find a solution that suits everyone. We ask you to continue to demonstrate the immense stoicism and forbearance you have shown over the past 18 months as we sought to improve the club’s situation and find us a permanent home. We will rectify this in time and things will improve.

We have agreed a position to site a container next to the clubhouse for our storage requirements. And the scrummage machine will be moved to the site soon. We have agreement to place club memorabilia in the bar area and will be adding some of our most prized possessions in the near future (including our famous Fox mascot).

We want to continue with the positive working relationship we have developed with Cherwell District Council (who have spent £16,000 rectifying the pitches) and LL (who have accommodated the rugby club at Whitelands in a way no other sports club has). We will only be able to improve things and address your concerns—and they will only listen to us—if we continue to demonstrate how much we appreciate the goodwill they have shown us so far in our relationship. We need to keep them onside.

If you have any issues, gripes, concerns or complaints about Whitelands, do let us know and give us the chance to fix them. We ask that these are sent directly to James Cridland (james.cridland@bicesterrufc.co.uk) who manages these relationships on behalf of the club.

And let’s not forget to celebrate how far we’ve come.

Whitelands is a massive improvement on what we had at Oxford Road, where you took your life into your own hands if you entered the kitchen, the hot water was frequently broken, the roof was falling down, and you froze to death in winter. The pitches flooded there too, and we were at the whim of the BSA’s groundsman as to whether we could play from one weekend to the next. We now have access to a fantastic modern facility with exclusive use of the downstairs kitchen to raise funds for the club, warm showers and changing rooms, a staffed bar, and a spacious function hall. All maintained and managed for us at the Council’s expense.

Things will only get better!

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