Name for new Upper Hutt Rugby Club: Advocating “Upper Hutt Rugby Club (2014) Inc. playing as The Falcons”

Following is a letter emailed 3 December to Brett Pearson, UHRFC Chairman and Members New Club Coordinating Committee. Other than an acknowledgement of receipt from Wayne Guppy no response has been received; time therefore to place my views on this extremely important issue out there via the social media.

I express real concern that the process for the establishment of the new club is reaching its conclusion without serious consultation with the Upper Hutt Rugby community and supporters. On the issue of name “Rams” seems to have been adopted based on “in principle” resolutions to establish a “brand new” rugby club and here we are days out from the proposed final meeting with the Combined Committee intending to adopt a constitution without consultation and vote by the Clubs to be dissolved as part of the process.

I write with regard to the name of our “brand new” Rugby club to be formed to advance the City’s aspirations for its Rugby involved community.

The first thing that springs to mind when addressing a topic like this is to question “what’s in a name”. This is usually followed by instant dismissal as a matter of importance. My questioning of my Rugby mates on the matter of name has invariably been met with this type of answer which on further consideration has motivated me to pen this submission to the task group driving the timely change in Upper Hutt Rugby.

I base my discussion of the issue on the “rumour” that “Upper Hutt Rams” is proposed for the new entity, and argue as follows that this is entirely inappropriate if the opportunity is to be seized to move our Rugby interests and investment onto a modern, sustainable and business-like base.

“Upper Hutt” must be the foundation of any name decided. This goes almost without question when we consider the player catchment and the practice over many years of attaching Rugby clubs to a geographical base.

Some might question the possibility that “Upper Hutt” will disappear under the current review of local government in the region. We can however be assured that geographically Upper Hutt will remain as a location, even if the Local Government Commission and electors replace The Upper Hutt City Council with another body. One possibility at the extreme end of the scale is “Upper Hutt Board”.

“Rams” however does raise a number of questions. I appreciate that the proposal seeks to acknowledge the position of the Rimutaka RFC in the dissolution of existing clubs and creation of a new entity – not “amalgamation” as some describe it. I shall list my thoughts as I brainstorm the issue:
1. “Rams” is nothing more than a nickname, or perhaps in modern business parlance it could be construed to be a “brand”. Googling for analogous situations worldwide took me to North Carolina University whose footy team is nicknamed “Rams”. It does not feature in the formal name of the team, nor should it.
2. It is sexist. Women are now more fully recognised in the Rugby world and we will see greater participation of the ladies in our sport with, amongst others, opportunities to participate in the next Olympics. Our new club will undoubtedly wish to follow the Rimutaka example and establish women’s teams to join this global phenomenon, but could offend in endeavouring to curry favour with a feminised title such as “Ramettes”, which does not feature in our language.
3. If “Rams” was to be included in the formal name of our new Club, challenges would be created in attempting to formally recognise other associations and particular sections within the Club. A more practical way of recognising the Rimutaka based resource, contribution and history would be to, where sufficient numbers are available, base new club teams within the same grade on “state of origin” lines. I recall some years back Dave Rennie and mates having college origin teams participating in Aussie Rules games at Trentham Memorial Park. May be this could be the denominator where relevant. There are of course a number of possibilities for the divide.
4. A practice over the past 20 years or so has seen some clubs recognise sponsors by attaching their name to the formal. Perhaps because of difficulties when other sponsors come onto the scene there has been no case of a club formalising the attachment of a business to a club name.
5. LOL: if daughter Robyn was to front up with a substantial sponsorship I do not think she would be too happy with “Upper Hutt Rams The Tote”.
6. A possible approach to the challenge would be to consider something analogous to “trading as” identification, for example: “Upper Hutt RFC playing as “The ……. “.
7. In that respect I have been told that one of our players recently showed great imagination in suggesting “Upper Hutt RFC Falcons” with club colours incorporating those of the contributing colleges in the City. “Falcons” has a greater justification and affinity than “Rams”. The City’s Coat of Arms, in front of the rock in the Crest, portrays a New Zealand Falcon. The New Zealand Falcon (Bush Hawke – Karearea) was very prevalent in the Upper Hutt Valley in earlier times and some still survive in the area. It preys on the forest birds including the pigeon depicted in the Arms and is described as probably the most fearless of all this country’s native birds.

There is thus a compelling case, I believe, to seek the Council’s formal approval to use the Falcon, with the illustration copied from the Crest in the Coat of Arms, in an informal trading context: “Upper Hutt RFC” playing as “The Falcons”. This creates the image of a sporting entity adopting modern business and marketing practice in identifying and promoting itself.
8. I am in fact so impressed with the suggestion that if “Falcons” is taken up I offer to pay the young guy’s subscription for as many years as he plays for the Club.
9. There is of course the issue of distinguishing the old from the new if Upper Hutt RFC is to be adopted. A suggestion to achieve this is to do precisely what the commercial sector does on the re-establishment of a company that has been wound up and is being reborn with a desire to associate it with the earlier number. That is, use the new incorporation date, eg Upper Hutt Rugby Football Club 2014 Inc.

On to another subject, I must commend the Club for the use of KPIs in the management processes. A suggestion is that the process could be enhanced by calling in some of the institutional knowledge of the “elders” with the formation of an audit and advisory unit made up of, say 2 or 3 life members plus representatives of major sponsors, with a brief to review KPIs regularly, recommend new issues for monitoring and suggestions for attainment.

I should be grateful if you would place this before the combined committee and am of course available to further discuss the issues.

Yours sincerely
Bob Vine, UHRFC Life Member and new club supporter.
03 December 2013″


Replies and comment most welcome