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New Diss Rugby Club chairman Stephen Drake looking to make Mackenders outfit ‘the best community rugby club’ in the local area





New Diss Rugby Club chairman Stephen Drake has expressed his aim to make the Mackenders outfit ‘the best community rugby club’ in the local area.

The retired lawyer, whose first involvements with Diss was watching his son in the junior teams, replaced Andy Jermy in the role at the club’s AGM in May, and is part of an influx of new committee members at the club.

Drake was joined by Andy Thompson (president), Andrew West (vice president), Dave Poulter (honorary secretary) and Stuart Bagshaw (honorary treasurer) in entering taking up office at Mackenders.

Diss’ new chairman Stephen Drake and newly-appointed head coach, Alex Kelsall. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Diss’ new chairman Stephen Drake and newly-appointed head coach, Alex Kelsall. Picture: Mark Bullimore

While one of his first acts as chairman was to appoint Alex Kelsall as the club’s new men’s first-team head coach, Drake has outlined integrating their vixens (female), colts (under-18s) and minis sides into the ‘overall operation’ of the club as one of his main priorities.

“We want to be seen as one all-embracing community rugby club and whilst the senior men’s team is of course important, it isn’t the be all and end all of the rugby club,” said the new chairman.

“There’s a lot of good work that goes on with our minis and our youth section. It’s (important) to embrace them and make sure they all feel part of Diss Rugby Club, to show the outside world we are a community rugby club and we aim to be the best community rugby club in the locality.

Stephen Drake is a retired lawyer. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Stephen Drake is a retired lawyer. Picture: Mark Bullimore

“Together we are stronger and that’s the vision that perhaps hasn’t always been there.

“The vixens is the new area and perhaps even one of the most exciting prospects of growth at the club. Ladies’ rugby is on the rise. Every aspect of the club is important to the club and it’s making sure that they feel that.”

Drake described his start to life at Mackenders as ‘interesting, exciting but challenging’. He is striving to improve a lot of the off-the-field goings on such as hosting social events and upgrading the quality of the club’s website.

But while there have been, and will be more, obstacles in his way, Drake believes having a completely new committee – who have not been part of Diss’ board before – will be positive for the development of the club.

Stephen Drake appointed head coach Alex Kelsall last month. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Stephen Drake appointed head coach Alex Kelsall last month. Picture: Mark Bullimore

“There are things we’re still learning and things we’re gradually looking at whether we need to change or not,” he said.

“I think the disadvantages (of having a new committee) are outweighed by the advantages. You’re not subject to the ‘we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way’. We come in and we say ‘why?’ ‘it might be easier to do it that way’ and I think that’s a real positive.

“Each time you take a step forward, you meet a hurdle that you have to overcome, but with time you achieve and I hope our members are seeing gradual improvements.”

Stephen Drake was appointed as Diss Rugby Club’s new chairman in May Picture: Mark Bullimore
Stephen Drake was appointed as Diss Rugby Club’s new chairman in May Picture: Mark Bullimore

Speaking on any potential goals for the first team in the Counties 1 Eastern Counties for the upcoming season, Drake said: “I think what supporters want to watch, and what players want to be involved in, is competitive games of rugby.

“If we’re winning comfortably, then there’s not so much that the team gain out of it, and equally if we’re losing by a considerable margin, we don’t get anything out of it.

“Obviously, we want to win and we want to be successful, but I think if the boys enjoy it and the games are competitive, we’ll be happy.”



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