Rugby League

Recruitment & Retention

Running a club can be rewarding - step-by-step guide to recruitment

Rewarding Opportunities

Running a club can be rewarding, it will provide both highs and lows on the field and a new group of friends off it. It is a great way to spend your time and connects you to a fantastic network of fans of the game all around the country.

Help will be needed along the way. Here's a step-by-step guide on how you can get started:

A short video by Billy Vaughan welcoming you to Portico Vine ARLFC.


Find a Venue

Founding a club will take time and can't be done alone. Volunteers are the driving force behind all community sport so make sure you have people in place and ready to help.

Players and their families are a club͛s greatest source of volunteers and they will usually help with fundraising, social media and the smaller tasks that help things run a little smoother. Appointing a coach will be the biggest decision you make.

Ensure their ideas mix with yours and don't be afraid to say no; a team thrives in a good coaching environment. Ask interested coaches to give you a run-down of their experience and qualifications - a poor coach may upset players, making recruitment and growth difficult.


Founding a club will take time and can't be done alone.

Volunteers are the driving force behind all community sport so make sure you have people in place and ready to help.

Players and their families are a club͛s greatest source of volunteers and they will usually help with fundraising, social media and the smaller tasks that help things run a little smoother.

Appointing a coach will be the biggest decision you make.

Ensure their ideas mix with yours and don't be afraid to say no; a team thrives in a good coaching environment.

Ask interested coaches to give you a run-down of their experience and qualifications - a poor coach may upset players, making recruitment and growth difficult.

Creating a Brand

A unique name is the key to creating an eye-catching brand for your club.

A local figure or historical event can often provide the inspiration for a memorable name; Hull Dockers, Clock Face Miners, London Skolars and Bath & Wiltshire Romans are just some marked examples.

A good brand, which should include a good club logo, will make your club stand out in the local community, generate interest and help people identify with the club - a new brand can help with recruitment and attract sponsors too.

Designing and organising a kit comes next. Unique colour schemes can cost slightly more, but a common colour scheme may produce kit clashes, which adds to costs, so the more unique, the better.

Finding you league

Contact the Management Group or Committee of your local League as soon as you can. They are the greatest source of first-hand guidance.

Merit and Entry Leagues can provide a place to secure competitive fixtures whilst your team is still in development.

Various Leagues offer Cup competitions too which can add to your club's early fixture list.

When you switch to join a full league, regular fixtures will aid player retention and, ultimately, growth of your club.

Visit our Leagues & Competitions page to find your league today - CLICK HERE


From raffles and bag packing at local supermarkets, to events such as race nights and sponsored walks, there is a wide range of fun ways to raise money for your club while helping build team spirit, from your players, through to your volunteers.

Membership fees can also play an important role in boosting your club's finances. You should ensure that you charge a sufficient annual fee to cover costs, while generating income on home match days through player subs, raffles, match programmes and much more.

Sponsorship can also be a useful funding tool. Many sports clubs use their existing members͛networks; parents, friends, fans, ex-players, committee members and their links to local businesses to ensure sponsorship of players, teams or the club itself. Grants are also available to new sports clubs.

Your local authority will also be able to assist with local grants, while Sport England can offer funding of between £500 and £10,000 for projects which can demonstrate how they increase and retain participation in physical activity.

More funding information



Creating and managing junior Rugby League sides is very different from running adult sides but provides a different sense of satisfaction.

Juniors are the lifeblood of Rugby League so it͛s vitally important to run a safe and welcoming club and a coaching environment that not only helps to retain players but to also attracts their friends to play.

Some clubs have a huge amount of experience and expertise in recruiting and retaining juniors.

Contact nearby clubs to talk about their experiences and the challenges they faced, how they fundraise and how they celebrate success.

DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service - formerly the CRB) checking is essential when recruiting volunteers to get involved with your Junior Section.

DBS helps the RFL as the national governing body for Rugby League assess who may be unsuitable to work with children within Rugby League, by looking at previous criminal convictions.

For more information and how to apply for a DBS check online, click HERE.


There are many ways to recruit junior players but the important thing is to know your local area, know how many schools are nearby and where the local youth clubs are.

A lot more can be achieved if the club has a good local profile, so be sure to advertise well and tell people about your club.

This can be via social media and printed media such as leaflets and posters. Encourage any existing junior players to recruit friends - a word of mouth campaign between young players is usually your most effective method.

If juniors at your club are enjoying themselves, they are far more likely to convince classmates to join them.

Perhaps consider offering rewards for those players who recruit friends as new players or ask them to hand out leaflets for you to their PE teachers and peers.


Retaining current members is just as important as recruiting new ones, therefore retention should play a key role in recruitment.

Help grow your club, by retaining players, coaches and volunteers, and attracting new members. Below are some guides and actions to help attract and retain club members.

The best way of promoting your club is by getting your club out into the community.

Don’t fall into the trap of "people know where we are so, if they are interested in Rugby League, they will know where to find us."

Go where people are, engage with them and talk about Rugby League. Work hard at getting the contact details of people participating and watching and follow up interest by sending texts and emails. Why not hold an open day at your club and show people what you are all about.

You could also consider taking part in community and charity events in the local area.Share activities you are organising or participating in on social media, both on your own accounts and on local community pages on Facebook, where active audiences thrive.

Experience shows that clubs who are perceived as being hubs for their communities and engage with people form their local area, find it far easier to recruit new members and players at all levels.

A good example would be former Club of the Week Stanningley SARLC, who have strong relationships across all areas of the community and professional game. This has helped the club raise money for charitable causes, while they host 17 teams in total, from age four to six training sessions, to three Open Age men’s teams and a Ladies team.


Social Media is the easiest and cheapest way to spread the word about your club. Here are some useful tips:


  • Building your number of 'followers' on Twitter can be easy. 'Follow' local organisations such as schools and businesses - they may 'follow' you back!
  • Offer low-cost prizes such as rugby balls - 'Retweet and follow' competitions are a useful way of growing your reach. Include an important club message in your Tweet for maximum effect
  • Always thank people who engage with your club. This will encourage more people to follow their lead
  • Make your tweets interesting. Make announcements (such as new head coach / signing) and tell your audience
  • If you have any players, parents, ex-players or friends of the club etc who have large numbers of Twitter followers, ask them to RT some of your messages. This will increase the reach of your messages.
  • Use pictures in your tweets. Research has shown that 44 per cent more interactions occur on Tweets with attached photos
  • Try new things and be innovative. After all, Tweets are free.


  • Create a page for your club to make the best impression on Facebook
  • Keep it active to keep your followers interested
  • Ask your club photographer for a picture gallery of your most recent game. Encourage your players to 'tag' themselves for the best reach
  • Promotoe your website and other channels by using simple watermarks on your pictures
  • Share your news in local community groups - a whole new audience can open up
  • Ask your players to share club posts. This will spread your reach to their friends, creating a simple online 'word of mouth' campaign

Retaining current members is just as important as recruiting new ones. 

It's a simple philosophy, if you impress people when they first arrive and continue to impress them, they will become your ambassadors and will spread the word of how great you are.

Reinforce this simple philosophy everywhere and you will become a more enjoyable club to be involved with, and your memberships will rise.

How to make your members feel valued

  • Keep your club and clubhouse neat and tidy: If you leave rubbish lying around, people are far more likely to drop their own litter as they can see an effort hasn’t been made. Rubbish bins and bin liners show that you care about your club and members
  • Send birthday cards to your members: You will have details of the birthdays of all your members and sending a greetings card shows that you care about your members
  • Smile and be positive: The simplest and most effective way of making people feel good about you and your club
  • Enourage feedback: Consult your members on new ideas and place suggestion boxes around your club. Hold club forums to ‘sense check’ new ideas and changes you want to make

What if someone leaves?

  • Very few clubs actually get in touch with a member who has left, just to find out why they did leave.
  • It is often taken for granted that people leave clubs because they are “too busy” but usually it is not found out whether the club had a part to play in them leaving.
  • Make sure you take a couple of minutes to ask people who have left the club, to why they did.
  • It may be a difficult conversation, but it could be the most valuable conversation you have all year.
  • If you don’t have someone who feels comfortable making the phone call, think of creating and sending a questionnaire or an online survey – people may be more honest responding this way.


    Player retention is an important challenge in all sports and it's crucial for sustainable clubs and leagues.

    It is also advised that your club registers on the Club Matters website, which can be used as a tool to interact with players and club members. In the main, your club members should be your first port of call in terms of retention.

    They may have skills which can help sustain and develop the club. The key to long term success on the pitch is having a good coach who builds mutual respect and loyalty.

    Another strong element to retention within the club is a buoyant social scene. A number of clubs have an annual calendar of social events, such as Open Days and volunteer events such as Engage With Your Club can assist in creating club spirit and promote ownership.

    Questionnaires and surveys can be a useful way to 'check and challenge' that what you are doing as a club is actually what the members want, and could also be a way of identifying new volunteers.


    Community clubs should consider the following:

    • Ensure a club development plan is in place with a five year strategy and monitor throughout the period.
    • Club ethos and philosophy is also a key component – all coaches and age groups need to buy into this.
    • Upskill coaches with the relevant requirements for the age group they coach (e.g. Level 1, Level 2 award, Level 2 License)
    • Link in with RFL initiatives such as Embed the Pathway and Primary RL.


    Greater co-ordination between age groups and coaches can also help improve the standard of your playing and training output.

    Each age group should have occasional link ups with the age groups around them to provide better continuity throughout the club and help players transition from U7s right through to open age. This can be done through:

    • Mixed training nights (e.g. under 15’s and under 16’s training together)
    • Coach Meetings (e.g. 7’s, 8’s and 9’s working together)
    • Social events (e.g. race nights, Christmas parties)
    • Engaging current open age players to help coach junior teams

    Clubs are also advised to reward players for length of service at the club e.g. 5 or 10 years’ service - these occasions can be frequent and can be carried out for both adult and junior players.

    Also, organising large club events or trips to major Rugby League events, such as the Dacia Magic Weekend or the Betfred Super League Grand Final, encourages familiarity between players and coaches at all age groups.

    As a club, you need to think about what you need to be offering potential members and guests at your club, both on the pitch an off the pitch.

    Do you want to be known as a clique, a club for just the chosen few or do you want to be known in your community as a welcoming hub.

    Likewise what kind of Rugby League do you provide, is it performance-based, recreational, social and informal or a mixture of these?

    What do your current members think?

    It is useful to gauge what your current members think of your club, as they are likely to know your club better than anyone else.

    It can be extremely beneficial to complete an annual survey to see which areas your members like about your club, and more importantly, what areas they think can be changed.

    Our suggestion is to undertake a simple customer survey amongst your members, players and parents.

    It is important that the survey is fairly simple and doesn’t take too long to fill in – this way, you are more likely to get a larger amount of replies from your members.

    Alternatively, you could set up the survey on an online platform, such as Survey Monkey, and email the link to all club members.

    Additionally, you could share this survey via your social media streams to boost responses from club members.

    If you want to increase the number of club members and ultimately grow your club, you must cater for “tomorrow’s members” and recognise that they will probably have a different perspective and different needs.

    The biggest threat to club growth is complacency – the way forward is to rejuvenate and introduce new thinking and behaviour – keep the fire burning and fight complacency.

    Top tips to help rejuvenate your club

    • Start the “movement” now – don’t procrastinate!
    • Invite new people to your club and ask them what they think – act if they flag up any issues
    • Keep going – some people at you club may initially oppose the changes but a time goes on, more and more people will support you and the momentum will grow
    • Send people out to visit outstanding clubs, organisations and businesses and learn from them. Ask them about what they did to improve their surroundings
    • Do not accept the “this is the way things are done around here” attitude – it will only hold you back
    • Learn from your failures and successes and then your hit rate will improve. Gradually you will increase your knowledge and understanding and become more successful
    • Be patient and persistent – as the old saying goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day

    You only get one chance to make a first impression...

    New Members

    No club can grow without new members, so it is vitally important that you are sending out the right message to prospective new arrivals.

    New visitors to clubs can often feel a little awkward when they walk through the door – they may be unsure of how to dress or act and may not know anybody at the club.

    Therefore, it is very important to develop and maintain a culture where everybody talks to each other, whether they are a long-standing member or a new face coming through the door for the first time.

    You do need to think about people as customers with differing needs and place greater emphasis on practising great customer service.

    There are plenty of good examples of great clubs that are growing because they listen to people, speak their language and provide them with a service and experience they enjoy.

    Club Welcome Packs

    Do you hand out a Welcome Pack to potential new members to showcase the best of what your club has to offer?

    That extra piece of information provided in this pack could be the difference as to whether the applicant decides to sign on at your club or walk away.

    A Welcome Pack also helps them to find their way around and feel at home more quickly. It makes them feel valued and will help them to stay at the club.

    A Welcome Pack could include:

    • A welcome letter from the Chairperson, signed personally
    • The club handbook or list of rules and advice
    • Details of club training and matches, with dates, times and locations
    • Information on special offers or discount vouchers from sponsors (if applicable)
    • Voucher for a drink at the bar (if applicable to club and applicant)

    Through the eyes of the applicant

    You may be so familiar with your club if you have been involved within the setup for a number of years but take a minute to think about what a new member may not know about the club.

    Use the following steps to consider what a potential member might be thinking before deciding to join your club and how you can overcome these barriers to help them join.

    Helping people hear about your club

    • Is your website up-to-date with correct contact details and are they in an easy place to find?
    • Can a potential new member easily find out when and where their age group trains?
    • Is your club active on social media and does it have a regularly updated presence on Facebook and Twitter?
    • Do these social media streams have positive postings from friendly members, telling stories and uploading photos of great experiences at your club?
    • Social media is a huge shop window for potential members and is often the first point of contact with younger players who may be looking to get into Rugby League

    Removing barriers for new members

    • Ask new arrivals at your club about what their biggest concerns were when first joining the club
    • Do they not know all of the rules, do they not have all of the correct kit, do they have any concerns of not knowing anyone or are they struggling for transport to get to training and matches?

    First impressions – the three twos

    • The first two seconds: First impressions are crucial – what do people first see when they come into your club? Do they see a broken lawn-mower standing outside the entrance or is the whole club well-kept and looking really tidy?
    • The first two minutes: Is the potential new member standing there, not really knowing what to do? You must have a culture in your club where everybody feels it is natural to go and say hello to anyone who looks a bit lost or unsure
    • The first two hours: The potential new member has now experienced their first training session but did they feel part of the team and did the coach pay particular attention to them?

    Keeping in touch

    • Have a simple form ready where people can leave their contact details: their name, a mobile number and email address, then a designated person can follow up and encourage them to return for a second session
    • It is very important that one person within your club is responsible for maintaining an up-to-date database
    • You could assign a buddy or mentor by getting an appropriate member of your current team to keep in touch with the new player. This is a great point of contact for the new member and they can ask any “silly” questions