This past weekend the Henley Hawks women’s team had their valuables bag stolen whilst they were playing away at Hove RFC. That’s 20 mobile phones, wallets, car keys, credit cards and even wedding rings gone in a flash. What a nightmare!
The valuables bag was given by the physio to someone that represented themselves as a club official to put behind the bar of the clubhouse for safekeeping but at the end of the match that person was nowhere to be found and neither was the valuables bag.
I know your first thought will be – well, maybe it was misplaced. This appears to be highly unlikely as all 20 mobile phones were switched off by the time the players had realized what had happened, so they were unable to track them down through the use of apps like “Find Your iPhone”. How likely is it that all 20 mobile phones would run out of battery within a two-hour period?
The opposition was kind enough to try and help the team look for the valuables bag, but it was nowhere to be found, a police report was eventually filed and the players had to resign themselves to their hard luck.
This got me thinking…we as rugby players regularly put our dearest possessions in a boot bag and leave it with a sub, spectator, coach or physio (or sometimes we even leave it unattended by the side of the pitch).
Thefts like this one are rare, but it highlights three important issues:
(1) rugby players and the rugby community in general are very trusting and trustworthy, (2) we must be more vigilant about protecting our valuables and (3) there must be a better way of protecting our belongings.
Be aware that such thefts can occur and that there may now be thieves that are specifically targeting rugby clubs – and don’t let it happen to your team!
Protect Your Valuables
Here are some ideas on how your team can better protect your team’s valuables during away matches:
1. PREPARATION: When your fixture secretary is coordinating your upcoming away match, get him/her to enquire about the security options at the away club so you are prepared.
On the day of the match, be aware of who is affiliated with the rugby club and only deal with club staff that you have spoken to and trust with regard to your valuables and security.
2. LOCKERS: Ideally, rugby clubs should offer an in-built safe/locker in changing rooms similar to those that you find in hotel rooms where the team would be able to set its own password (thereby ensuring that no one else is aware of the code). Alternatively, lockers with a key (that only has 1 or 2 copies that are held by the club manager) or a lock with a number combination would work as well.
Thefts such as this one may demonstrate the need for such measures resulting in a call-to-action by the RFU to rugby clubs to provide such facilities. Talk to your club manager / chairman about getting these installed in the changing rooms of your rugby club.
In the meantime, other viable options need to be considered.
3. SECURE ROOM: If a secure locker is unavailable, ask the opposition whether there is a room that can be locked by key that you can be given access to. There is still a risk that someone else has access to the room but from experience these thefts are rarely connected to anyone at the rugby club itself. Arrange this with the fixture secretary in advance so that they have the key ready for you in time for your arrival to the club.
4. BACKPACK: If neither a secure locker nor room can be made available to you, consider putting your valuables inside of a backpack instead of a boot bag.
Instead of leaving a small boot bag by the side of the pitch or with someone to hold, a backpack (when worn at all times by the valuables protector) would ensure that the bag was not left unattended.
If there are no subs or spectators available (i.e. if your team is at an away match), the bag can even be worn by the coach or physio as it would leave his/her hands free to take notes, administer first aid, etc. For added security, you can attach a small padlock on the zipper and put the key in someone’s pocket.
What if Your Valuables are Stolen?
If the worst should happen, there may be avenues open to you to be compensated for your loss, but you must act quickly to prevent further damage to your bank balance and your phone bill.
Personal insurance may be able to cover some of the loss incurred (check your phone’s insurance policy, your personal contents / housing insurance, your bank account’s terms and conditions, etc).
It is likely that you will need to supply the insurance company with the police claim number, so make sure that you get this from your captain/manager – whoever is reporting the crime.
Just a thought – perhaps the RFU (via an insurance company) or the rugby club’s insurance company should step in when loss as a result of theft occurs on the grounds of a rugby club affiliated with the RFU? I don’t think this is an option as at this time but something to consider.
If your wallet is stolen along with your credit / debit cards, you must report the theft to your credit card company and/or bank and cancel these immediately.
Don’t delay because this will allow the thief to rack up charges on your cards, which is an additional headache to dispute down the line.
If your mobile phone is stolen, contact your mobile phone company as soon as possible so that they cancel your sim card.
Thieves regularly use mobile phones to make expensive overseas calls. You don’t want to get a 300 pound phone bill in the mail a month later!
Don’t let the same thing that happened to the Henley Hawks ladies happen to you and your teammates.
Keep your belongings safe by following some of the suggestions above. Be aware of your belongings and lobby your rugby club to make available good security alternatives to your opposition and your team.
Does your team have any ideas for how to keep valuables safe? Please share them below so that others can benefit from your experience.