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 http://www.fixex.com 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.