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Kent RFU Brews Up a Plan with Shepherd Neame to Tackle Match Cancellations

Kent County Rugby Football Union, in collaboration with the RFU, is hoping it’s game on for more rugby matches in the county after teaming up with independent family and Britain’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame.

The ‘Game On’ initiative will reward Kent clubs, to try and avoid the issue of frequent match cancellations due to a lack of players on the day. It forms part of the overall RFU initiative ‘Project Phoenix’ which aims to get games played.

Under the RFU ‘Game On’ adaptations introduced earlier this year, matches may take place with a minimum of 10 players on each side. The scheme has already saved hundreds of fixtures across the country, as well as encouraging the sport at community level.

This new scheme will offer an extra boost and further encouragement to clubs to complete their Kent Merit league fixtures with some memorable off-field experiences provided by Shepherd Neame.

Every team which completes at least 90% of its league fixtures will be entered into a draw to receive either a tour of the brewer’s historic Faversham brewery or a voucher towards a team meal at a Shepherd Neame pub or hotel of the club’s choice.

Those teams which complete at least 75% of their league fixtures will receive two crates of Shepherd Neame beer.

For the clubs that has used ‘Game On’ on the most occasions to fulfil their fixtures, the incentive scheme will also reward the player from that club who has gone above and beyond to make themselves available. The reward will be a voucher for the player and their partner or a friend to use in any participating Shepherd Neame pub or hotel.

Kevin Cope from Kent RFU said: “Rugby players simply want to play rugby each weekend and are frustrated when matches are cancelled due to lack of player availability. The KCRFU’s partnership with our principal sponsor, Shepherd Neame and its generosity will help to ensure that clubs increasingly use ‘Game On’ rules, so that their matches can take place, even when fewer than 15 players are on either team.

Shepherd Neame’s involvement with the initiative was overseen by its Head of Customer Relations Giles Hilton, who is also Chairman of Canterbury Rugby Club. He said: “Shepherd Neame takes great pride in supporting a diverse range of sports across the communities it serves, from grassroots to county level. We are delighted to be able to partner with the Kent RFU on this fantastic initiative to boost rugby in the county by providing targeted incentives, and hope it proves a great success!”

The trial is being monitored and, if successful, could be rolled out in other areas.