NEWLY-ELECTED Fylde chairman Michael Brennand has made his first big signing – Sale Sharks star Josh Beaumont.
The Premiership lock has joined the 100-strong army of volunteers at The Woodlands and will work on the commercial side of the club while he continues his rehab from injury.
“He’s in the process of completing his MBA in Sports Leadership and he rang me and volunteered some time to assist at the club and I took him up on that,” explained Brennand.
“He is going to work on a commercial plan for the club and how we engage with sponsors. I’ve done six years before as chairman (2006-2012) and without the help of volunteers, no club could survive.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of our volunteers and their recurring theme is their appreciation for what the game has given to them and their children. To work with like-minded people who are doing it for the same reasons is great fun.”
Not all volunteers are taken up on their offer to help, though, as Josh’s dad Bill, the World Rugby chairman and former Fylde player, discovered.
“I got a call from Bill Beaumont who said, ‘I’m keen to help, I’ll join the committee if you like,’” revealed Brennand. “There can’t be many clubs who’ve had the chairman of World Rugby ringing up to say they were keen to come on board. But I actually said to him, ‘mate, no thanks, I think I’ll just use you on an ad hoc basis when I have got certain things that need your presence.’ I think we’ll let him concentrate on the world game, for now.”
Fylde is never far away from the Beaumont’s family thoughts, five generations have been members at one time or another and another of Bill’s sons, Sam, was a first-team regular, like himself, for years. Josh also had a brief spell at The Woodlands as a player in his early Sale days.
“Bill is absolutely passionate about the club and takes a keen interest,” Brennand said. “I’ll never forget the last time I was chairman and he was over in Argentina at the U20s World Cup and he rang to say, ‘I’ve heard the pitch isn’t in very good condition, what are you doing about it?’”
Brennand’s son Oli was a teammate of Sam Beaumont and one of the main reasons the club’s current chairman, a social player until his early 40s, became involved in the first place.
Fylde plays a vital part in the wider community, delivering rugby to hundreds of youngsters every weekend and reaching out to some of the most vulnerable people in the area. One of the objectives of its community foundation, of which Beaumont senior is president, is to positively impact on over 10,000 children’s lives through rugby as well as delivering 1,800 free breakfasts to those most in need.
Brennand feels the work that rugby clubs do in the community is being under-valued by those in power as they struggle to stay afloat.
“It bugs me the amount of press and publicity that football gets for how badly off their lower leagues are, yet nothing is mentioned in rugby. It is about time we started shouting about what we do,” he said.
“I hope that all the people who sponsor rugby absolutely appreciate that when they put money into the rugby club, they are benefitting young people from all walks of life.”
Fylde have had to make staff redundant and furlough coaches to try and get through these unprecedented times, making the role of volunteers even more important.
Brennand, a member of the National Clubs’ Association executive committee, does not want to countenance the thought of going a whole season without rugby.
“Saturdays at the rugby club are the backbone of our finances, without that, it is going to be tough,” he said.