As a start to this, I actually was in the midst of writing up a blog piece for our buddy Sean from FYB , but as Heather has sent this, I shall just pass this one on instead!
We've long been supporters of Fill Your Boots, it's a fantastic venture that most importantly WORKS! The success can now be measured by a few very similar ventures starting to crop up nationwide. As Sean starts to branch into hockey, cricket and netball, we will continue to back his hard work and look forward to seeing how much he will change the landscape of grassroots sports!
Over to Heather!
Fill Your Boots
Running a #RugbyUnited account you get to know your ‘regulars’ and Fill Your Boots (FYB) came to my attention about 12 months ago – since then it’s one I look out for because for me encouraging a love of the game at grassroots is one of the reasons I do this (apart from the chance to interact with the lovely folk at Sale Sharks and the banter!). So I thought I’d have a chat with Sean Phelan.who runs FYB and find out a bit more about who – what and why?
If you haven’t seen it ‘Fill Your Boots’ is the grassroots rugby player exchange which has been running successfully for two years now. Whether you are a rugby club in need of extra bodies to ensure your match takes place, or a player looking for a run-out, he can help you find a game. He has over 700 rugby clubs from all over the world who now follow him on Twitter; and 2017 saw FYB nominated for the England Rugby Mitsubishi Volunteer of the Year awards.
Sean is a tyre fitter by day but freely admits that running this service has given him a taste for social media so a change of job is potentially on the cards. He juggles both roles with a (very) patient partner and caring for their two children, aged 6 and 10 months. (Could explain the 2am tweets!)
Here is how the idea came about….
Sean is the captain of Racal Decca, based in Tolworth and they are “the world’s smallest club” and they struggle to field a XV each week. Formed in 1959 Racal Decca RFC have operated a one-team club approach, bringing together players of all ages and experience levels with one thing in common: a love of the game. I ask Sean if it’s always been the 1 team and he tells me forklore states they did once (as in 1 week) put out 2 teams in the 80s. Racal Decca formed alliances with other clubs in their area including Streatham Croydon to share players if one of their games were cancelled each week. It was highly successful, more games were being fulfilled, meaning more games for everyone involved. As Sean said ‘as a captain, it was an embarrassment to turn up with 12 players’. Even worse as he’s also fixtures secretary (and social secretary!)
Sean’s career began with Kingston Rugby Club, although he was already training with Racal Decca as his Dad did the role(s) he does now. From the age of 17 he moved to Racal Decca and has played alongside his Dad, Mum, Sister and Step-Dad.
They have 2 claims to fame: The first is creating the Smallest Rugby Club World Cup which they hosted in 2015, 8 one team clubs for all over the place came for the tournament and they had a fantastic day, including Sir Clive Woodward turning up which was incredible.
Secondly was being part of the Land Rover launch for their campaign, ‘We Deal In Real’, with Jonny Wilkinson, Will Greenwood, Bryan Habana, Matt Gitau, Sir Clive, Brad Thorn and Mike Brown amongst others!
In particular it was the Smallest Rugby World Cup when over 30 people turned up wanting to play but not regularly playing for a club for lots of different reasons that was the catalyst. It got him thinking that this could be successful if more clubs like Racal Decca had a player exchange, where clubs that needed extra bodies and players that needed game time could go to find each other. Over 700 Rugby clubs now follow FYB on Twitter.
The goal is simple, to make more games happen.
Some weeks he fails, some weeks he succeeds, but rest assured FYB works as hard as possible to Make Games Happen.
How Fill Your Boots Works
Whether you are a rugby club or an available rugby player, send him a message via social media channels.
He will then send out your requests via social media outlets.
Twitter – @fyb_rugby
Instagram – @fyb_rugby
I ask Sean what his success rates are like and it can be pretty varied. Some weeks he can find one, sometimes two, sometimes none at all. None of which deters Sean from trying! Something that clearly led to his nomination last year for England Rugby’s Mitsubishi Volunteer Recognition Award.
So what are the future plans for FYB? Well to make FYB successful for clubs, they need to reach more people. The more people that follow their Twitter or Like their Facebook, the better chance they have of helping more clubs each week. Genuinely he doesn’t have a marketing or advertising budget, just one bloke with a phone who cares enough about the sport! A grassroots operation for grassroots clubs! Sean will cover mens, minis, juniors, ladies and even rugby league! So go on – give him a follow – or even better with New Year’s resolutions maybe fading give him a call and dust those boots off!