The Fixture Exchange, Donation to S.P.I.R.E

For the last ten years or more I have been working with Pete and Liz Conner to run an online site for youth rugby teams to make fixtures at short notice, when their normal ones have fallen through. The situation can be dire for some clubs – having a team eager to play, being let down by their opposition and deciding that soccer might be a better sport to play… some clubs never fully recover from the loss of their youth teams, since these are the life blood of the club and grow to be the next generation of adult players.

Hence the need for Fixex – a wonderful site for teams to use at a minimal cost. The fee is just £10 per season for the entire youth section in a club to make use of the service. For that you get unlimited access to the database of available fixtures, your own space to manage your fixtures and links to every other club in the exchange. It isn’t the only exchange in the country, but it is a good one.

Pete Conner died in 2005 and there was a real danger that the  exchange wouldn’t survive. The software was aging and needed updating, Liz was in a terrible state after her loss and I have to say I wasn’t much better! However, we persevered. I found out a bit about PHP coding and re-built the site, Liz found out about using email and took on the callers to the exchange. Between us we have managed to get by.

Each year all of the proceeds from running the system are donated to S.P.I.R.E (Support Paraplegics in Rugby Enterprise) – a charity that was established by the RFU. The donation is modest, usually around £250 to £300 pounds, but it is consistent. The presentation is made at Twickenham every January during the annual ‘extravaganza’ where clubs from all over the country are invited to meet up and sort fixtures for the coming season. Usually, this means clubs from the South East, mostly, although many come from much further afield. This year we donated another £300 and are pleased to have done so – a big ‘thank you’ is due to all of the clubs who subscribe and to Keith Norman who organises the event with the RFU. We are also hugely grateful to the RFU for hosting the event and providing food and drink for the evening… without the support of folk like Alan Black, this event could not take place in such prestigious surroundings.

And so the exchange continues. The web site is at and a lot is happening over there. A new version of the software was released this weekend, and more development is underway. I couldn’t do any of it without the wonderful MX Kollection Dreamweaver plugins developed by Interakt (who have been bought by Adobe).

We are renaming the donation to be the ‘Peter Conner Award’ and are looking for other good causes to support as well as S.P.I.R.E – the intention is to find and help those who against all odds manage to find a way to achieve within rugby union. We will no doubt announce more about this as the year progresses.

The Fixture Exchange, PHP Coding, Dreamweaver, MX Kollection

For quite a while now I have been helping to run a fixture exchange system for youth rugby clubs. It started off life as a phone based pencil and paper system, but we moved it onto the Internet in about 1993. More recently it has been database driven and we relied on a company to build it using .ASP

All has been well until the host company said they were no longer going to host .ASP and that I should get this converted to PHP.

Now, I am no web coder but for a few years I have been working with some very skilled people. Sadly they haven’t had the time to help build this for me, but have offered loads of suggestions and ideas. I really needed to get this done myself.

So I went to and looked for anyone who could do the conversion. As it turns out there are lots of folk there who thought it would be easy, but I needed to work fast!

I have for some time been using Dreamweaver as my HTML editor, along with BBEdit on a Mac. There are a number of in-built tools to help code PHP, but you need to know what you are doing before you understand when and how to use them. I have also bought a copy of Interakt’s ‘MX Kollection’ This is basically a framework that writes the PHP code from a library of functions. All you need to know is what function you are doing.

The online help system for this is pretty good, and there are dozens of tutorials to help. It handles just about everything you need for a fairly complex site, including registration, sessions, listing information, amending records and so on.

Have a look at to see the site I built (if you are a youth rugby team, sign up!!), and check out for the dreamweaver extensions. I notice the company has now been bought by Adobe (who also now own Macromedia) so perhaps even better things are around the corner. All I know is I couldn’t have built this from nothing to a fully working site in less than a week without this set of extensions, so many thanks to Interakt!