It's fun to play at the Ipswich YM
Picture L-R: YM's Matt Rolfe, Toby Lessels, Matt Quinton (c), Ian Healey and Ryan Quinton with trophies
Ipswich YM RFC are currently the toast of the Suffolk sporting world having just carried off the Suffolk Sports Award’s prestigious Sports Club of the Year accolade, the first time that a rugby club has been honoured by the county in such a way.
They were also runners-up in the Senior Sports Team of the Year category just to underline how successful they’ve been over the past year or more which has seen the clubs trophy cabinet begin to burst at the seems.
Apart from basking in the honour of being one of only two clubs nationally to have nurtured two England Rugby Football Union (RFU) Presidents in their 86 year history - Donald `Sandy’ Sanders, who sadly died last week and was the clubs only England international, along with Brian Williams - little has been heard of the club until now when, suddenly, the awards and trophies have come thick and fast.
While the Suffolk Sports Award was the icing on the cake they had already been named Eastern Counties Club of the Year for 2010/11 as they won promotion to Eastern Counties 1 last season and their 2nd XV had lifted the Thorpeness Cup as well as topping the Suffolk Merit League.
Add to that a Suffolk Shield win and you begin to glimpse part of the reason why this well-organised club, both on and off the pitch, also became the first in the county to be granted the RFU’s Whole Club Seal of Approval Award.
In playing terms there’s little doubt that the arrival of the University Campus Suffolk to the town has certainly helped them expand from struggling to put out two sides to fielding three regular teams each week, and very nearly a fourth, while their success is also down to the friendly and welcoming hand-shake awaiting anybody who turns up at The Street clubhouse.
YM’s hard working and hugely enthusiastic Director of Rugby Andrew Moore sums up the clubs attitude well.
He says: “We concentrate on bringing rugby to everyone of all shapes and sizes - just everyone. We see ourselves as a real grassroots, family orientated, club where being a great player is not everything and where anyone who wants to give it a go can come along.’
Their fortunes on the field of play however have definitely taken a turn for the better since the arrival of head coach Jeff Searle who, assisted by his own brother John, has brought immediate results including last season’s promotion to Eastern Counties 1 where they are currently staking a claim for a second successive promotion.
“They’ve just brought the lads we had to the standard that they are now and it’s amazing what they have got out of the lads,’ comments Moore. “We’re also in the process of trying to build a Colts side, especially around the University lads, as the one we did have disappeared about ten years ago.’
Propping skipper Matt Quinton, now leading the team for a fifth season, has also contributed much to the sides success while second team captain and flanker Steve Plaice and hooking third team skipper Ivan Wright have also played their part.
As the RFU’s Rugby Development Officer for Suffolk Lee Adamson says: “The Ipswich YM club have worked hard to grow the number of adult players over the last two seasons.
“They have done this by focussing on important issues such as enjoyment, team work and building a friendly atmosphere.
“With the increase in players it has brought success both on and off the field and they’ve set an example for everyone.’
While they’ve just not quite got enough playing members to field a regular fourth team the club are also building themselves a great reputation locally by allowing their non-selected players to help make up the teams in other clubs.
“We lend other clubs our players on a Saturday so that they can get their teams out and our additional players then get a game and so everybody is happy,’ explains Moore.
What other honours await this go-ahead club around the corner only time will tell but, in the meantime, the clubs chairman Harry Moore continues to keep them very much in the local and county spotlight as he carries out his duties as the current President of Eastern Counties RFU.
Oh, and by the way, the YM in the clubs name has no significant meaning these days apart to distinguish it from local rivals Ipswich RFC. It harps back to the days, up until 1990, when they were, indeed, attached to the local YMCA.