James Rule: Message to Members and supporters

James Rule: Message to Members and supporters widnesvikings.co.uk

25th March 2017

Message from James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, to our Supporters: 

"I want to take this opportunity to reach out to our Members and supporters, in what has been a difficult start to the season for our Club. We are experiencing a time of adversity, and it is important that we recognise the challenges that we face and stay united as we work through them.

I have had the privilege of being the CEO of two great rugby league clubs, and of having spent my entire career working in professional sport. Throughout that time I have never experienced such a savage run of injuries as the one we have been battling this season.

At this moment, more than half of the top 17 players on our salary cap are unavailable for selection - an incredible and exceptionally frustrating fact to accept. Rugby league is a brutal sport, and the collisions of our game make injuries an everyday reality. However, the sheer volume and severity of the ones that we are facing right now is unprecedented in my personal experience and certainly during my time as CEO of the Vikings.

We have had a tough start to the season and have been on the receiving end of defeats, which I know frustrate our Members and Stakeholders. The players, coaching staff and Directors all share in this sense of frustration too. We are competitive by our nature and want Widnes Vikings to win on and off the field, each and every week.

That being said, we recognise that we are stronger with the availability of the players who are currently absent. Joe Mellor, Tom Gilmore, Lloyd White, Patrick Ah Van, Eamon O'Carroll, Hep Cahill, Chris Dean, Alex Gerrard, Manase Manukafoa and Olly Ashall. We then lost both Aaron Heremaia and Jordan Johnstone during the course of the Salford fixture. These are all players who add strength, depth and quality to our squad. No team, in any sport, could perform at their best missing such a high proportion of their talent.

That statement is not made to disrespect the players who stepped up to take their place. I have seen their dedicated efforts in training, and their hard work and desire cannot be questioned. However, the return of these first team players will create competition for places, provide experience and ultimately strengthen the group.

At moments like this, we need unity. At Widnes Vikings, we talk about - and live up to - a 'One Club' philosophy. Put simply, this means that we work together and believe that everyone has a stake in the success of our Club. I am proud that we have a culture of hard work and respect within Widnes Vikings, and that we work so hard for one another. It is easy to be united in the good times - the moments that we are facing now are the real test.

There are no quick fixes to situations like this. The reality is that the effects of these injuries may continue to be felt in the weeks that come, but we will get through it and injured players will begin to return.

Naturally people will look towards recruitment as an immediate solution. Both Denis and I scour the domestic and international player market on a daily basis. However, the difficult reality is that at this stage of the season the availability of players for transfer or loan is almost non-existent.  Moreover, even if we had unlimited resource to recruit and players were available, there is no realistic way in a salary cap sport of being able to fill the void of such a high proportion of injuries en-masse.

My appeal is for you to stay with us. Injured players will return to bolster our campaign and we will continue to look for ways and personnel to enhance our team. Things will improve, but we need your support right now. Your backing lifts and encourages the players, and makes a difference. We're One Club in the good times, and the difficult ones, and together we will get through these challenges."

James Rule: Message to Members and supporters widnesvikings.co.uk