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CEO Newsletter - Spring 2024

Community | 8th April 2024

First of all, I hope you had an enjoyable break with your family and friends over the extended Easter break.  

I also wanted to thank you for your incredible support so far this season. The fact that we have enjoyed three sell-outs, and a number of other bumper crowds, is the testament to the loyal and dedicated support we are privileged to receive here at Cardiff. 

We have always known the market is here, and while results might not be what we want this season - as we build for the future - the attractive brand of rugby being played by our young and largely local group, fighting against the odds has certainly struck a chord with our supporters. 

For that, we are all truly grateful and hope to see you again on April 27, when we face Edinburgh at the Arms Park and of course Judgement Day, which is at the Cardiff City Stadium.

I promised in my most recent programme notes, that I would write to supporters to update you on progress made since the completion of our takeover by Helford Capital earlier this year. 

The acquisition of an 84.55% share of the company by Helford, has certainly stabilised the club following an incredibly challenging period. They completed the transaction earlier than they had initially planned, for which we are very grateful, and the first waves of their planned investments will begin in the months ahead. 



From a rugby point of view, we have been able to begin planning for next season and the priority has been on retaining our young talent, which we have largely been able to achieve. 

You will have seen plenty of announcements around new contracts for the likes of Alex Mann, Cam Winnett, Mackenzie Martin, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti and Jacob Beetham.

We have made a significant signing in Callum Sheedy and are bringing back a pair of highly-rated pathway products following their education across the border in terms of Steffan Emanuel and Tom Bowen. 

Matt Sherratt has also bolstered his back-room staff with the incoming appointment of Corniel van Zyl as forwards coach, with Scott Andrews focusing on the scrum, and Gethin Jenkins agreeing a full-time contract for next season. 

We have plenty of other announcements to make in terms of retention and recruitment. While inevitably there will be some further departures, all in all we believe we will be in a stronger position in 2024-25. 

Thanks to the support of Helford Capital, we are also now exploring opportunities, which could enable us to bring in full-time coaches and support staff throughout our pathway. 

We already know we have an extremely strong pathway, which can be seen in the Welsh National team, where 40% of the new Welsh senior caps have been developed through our Cardiff Rugby Pathway system since August 2018. 

What is important now is that we provide the support and infrastructure to not only retain our best talent, but to fully utilise it and allow these players to fulfil their full potential in Blue and Black. 

To that end, something we are continuing to develop and invest in are our scholarship programmes. We have already seen some great examples of this and need to ensure that if a talented young player does decide to take up an educational opportunity across the border, it is fully aligned and run in conjunction with ourselves.

We have some outstanding educational institutions on our doorstep and we will continue to work very closely with all of these, but we cannot restrict or negatively impact our pathways if students decide to take up offers elsewhere. 

Focussing on the here and now, we are in the midst of three consecutive fixtures on the road before facing Edinburgh here at the Arms Park. 

Unfortunately we have just fallen short against Glasgow and Munster, but can take a huge amount of pride from the fight and collective effort shown against two top-four teams. 

You only have to look at their results in recent rounds of the BKT United Rugby Championship to see how well we have done to pick up bonus-points on the road - the only team to do so at Scotstoun this season. 

Of course, the boys always want to win and they are disappointed, but there are certainly positives to take and I am sure it will not be long for a few of these narrow losses to become wins. 

It was been a very difficult Six Nations for Wales but there were some positives and we could not be prouder of all of our players involved, particularly Evan Lloyd, Alex Mann, Mackenzie Martin and Cam Winnett, who all made their international debuts and have returned to the squad with plenty of confidence. 

We’ve also been pleased to see the contribution of our Blue and Blacks at Under-20s level, who finished their campaign with a good win over Italy at the Arms Park.

In terms of Cardiff RFC, it was great to get back to winning ways against Carmarthen Quins a few weeks and we have continued that form with further triumphs over Swansea, Aberavon and Quins once again on Saturday. 

The consecutive wins have solidified the Rags’ place in the play-off places and we host Merthyr at the Arms Park on Saturday, where it would be great to see you!

Elite Domestic Competition. 

At this point it is only right that I provide an update on the EDC and our intention as Cardiff RFC to take part. 

We had previously withheld our application as we simply could not financially commit to the competition, given with our concerns around commercials aspects. However, with Helford Capital now at the helm, we have the necessary financial support to commit to this. 

Unfortunately, Merthyr and Pontypridd have not applied for a place and will therefore not be part of the competition. Between the three clubs, we have supplied eight of the last 10 winners of the Indigo Welsh Premiership, and three of the last four Welsh Cup titles. So it is disappointing that we may not go up against these great friends and rivals, but we would certainly welcome conversations over a schedule of friendly fixtures to retain those derbies. 


As you may be aware, our annual accounts were filed and published last month and showed a loss of just over £2million.

There has been a lot of coverage of the annual accounts of numerous rugby clubs in recent weeks and they lay bare the challenges faced by the game not only in Wales but across the UK. 

I have been encouraged by the approach taken by the Welsh Rugby Union’s new Chief Executive, Abi Tierney, and her executive, and I am confident they will find solutions to the difficulties we have. 

They have begun a new era of leadership at the WRU with an inclusive environment, but tough and brave decisions will still be required in order for the professional and international game to be competitive again. 

One thing I have also learnt during my time here is that we need to be less reliant upon others and must make decisions for our business based upon current realities. We cannot worry about other factors and ‘what ifs’, but will instead focus on the current situation. 

So while I am very encouraged by what I am seeing and growing in optimism, we will take a cautious approach to ensure our long-term sustainability. 


As I am sure you are all now aware, we have withdrawn from plans to develop Pentwyn Leisure Centre in partnership with Cardiff Council and GLL. You can read all about that decision here.

We are now continuing with our new plans to develop a semi-temporary facility behind the north stand, with a number of potential options currently being worked through. 

There is no doubt that, although temporary, these new facilities will be an upgrade on what we currently have. Jamie Muir, our Stadium Manager, and Ryan Campbell, our Senior Strength and Conditioning coach, are leading on this project to ensure the facility includes everything rugby need and exactly how they require it.

Having all of our facilities on one site will make a big difference to enhance our environment, reduce travel time and improve cohesion in our program.

It also means we will not be committed to a long-term project at Pentwyn while there is renewed ambition to redevelop Cardiff Arms Park with relationships between all relevant parties positive and conversations continuing. 

More immediately at the Arms Park, we continue to invest heavily in the maintenance of an ageing facility, while some cosmetic improvements have been made across the site, including the Pack Bar, which you may have seen. The first phase of this has been completed and by our home game against Edinburgh, it is hoped everything will be complete. 

We will be bringing in a large food unit to the area outside the clubhouse, in partnership with Castell Howell, which will allow us to have a number of different in-house street food offerings at every home game. 

The team have worked very hard in recent years to improve our match-day experience at the Arms Park and, while we have taken great strides, we are under no illusions that this is a constant evolution. Please share any thoughts, concerns or suggestions you have when we survey supporters at the end of the season or reach out on social media. 



As I mentioned at the start of this newsletter, our support this season has been fantastic and we owe a huge amount to you, our loyal supporters, for the great turn outs we have had and the electric atmosphere generated at the Arms Park so many times this campaign. 

We have already hit our ticketing target for the year but did experience a drop in our season membership numbers. This shortfall has been made up but we are acutely aware that we need to do more to attract, entertain and retain our support at a time where there is more competition for attention than ever before. 

We are exploring more ways to give our members extra value and how we can attract new audiences to the Arms Park, and it would be great to see a big uptake in our 'Bring a Friend' offering for the Edinburgh game. Thanks also to those of you who completed our recent survey on the supporter groups at the Arms Park, the results of which are currently being worked through by the groups themselves.

With initiatives such as Club’s Day, which remarkably saw Connacht sell out,   student events and Blue Light offers, we are getting more people to engage with our great team and building our database. These supporters might only come a couple of times a year, but the first step is getting them through the Gwyn Nicholls Gate and putting on a great event. 

Our marketing team are currently exploring the possibility of staging an evening for members in the days ahead of our fixture against Edinburgh, which we will hopefully be able to confirm and communicate very soon, as well as our annual Summerfest event, which we hope to announce earlier than in previous years. 

Plans for our 2024-25 Season Memberships are being finalised and will be released within the next month. There is likely to be a small price increase, largely due to the rate of inflation and the fact that all of our costs, whether for energy, beer or stewarding, are all increasing but we still believe our memberships offer an affordable option for all budgets. 

Every penny made goes back into ensuring we are as competitive on the field as possible and hopefully in the weeks ahead you will see the further progress we are making. 

I must also thank everyone who attended any of our Locker Room Hospitality or Guinness Fan Village events over the last two months. They have once again been an enormous success. 

Once again thank you for all of your support this season and we all look forward to seeing you, whether this weekend for the Rags or for the Edinburgh match on April 27.

Diolch yn fawr,