Cranna predicts exciting times ahead for the Eastern Counties

A FEW short years ago Eastern Counties Rugby Union (ECRU) was in danger of losing touch with the game at grassroots level.

An honest assessment from current chairman Bob Cranna who realised a more dynamic and relevant approach was needed.

Fast forward to present day and the future of the constituent body has arguably never looked brighter.

Its award-winning coaching drive goes from strength to strength while the success of a deliberate move to interact more closely with clubs across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire can be seen by the off-the-pitch improvements at Diss and Sudbury, to name but two.

It would be easy for the ECRU to sit back, enjoy the game and congratulate themselves on a job well done.

The reality is far different, as Cranna explains: “We are of course pleased with how things are going and how much we have progressed, but we still want to get more involved in grassroots rugby.

“From being a steady constituent body, we have become a lot more dynamic over the last few years. Changes had to be made. This is no criticism of the past but I think there were too many people who didn’t know what we did. We wanted to change that and become more relevant on a club level.”

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Representatives from Eastern Counties can be seen on the touchline of matches every weekend, building relationships all the time.

This has seen the organisation work with clubs across its three counties to help obtain RFU funding for off-the-pitch improvements - an example of which is the impressive work currently being carried out at Diss RFC.

Facilities are one thing, but ensuring people of all ages and abilities continue to enjoy the sport remains a top priority.

While very proud of the success of the region’s elite players - Alex Day and Will Hooley both played for England Under-18s last month - Cranna said it was vital not to forget those who turn out on local pitches every single weekend.

He said: “In one sense, the elite players kind of take care of themselves. We must show the same focus, if not more, on club players. Without them, and without volunteers, we wouldn’t even have a game to talk about.”

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