Junior rugby on the Isle of Wight has been thrown into turmoil with the announcement that Ventnor RFC are moving away from Vectis RFC that has served the Island's senior clubs for the past 20 years.

Only days after Ventnor hosted the highly successful South Island Sevens tournament, club chairman Ed Blake dropped a bombshell by announcing the club would be going its own way from next season.

It will be be withdrawing the right for Vectis to use its Watcombe Bottom ground, which has been utilised by Vectis teams for many years.

Vectis has responded by saying it will continue to operate and is looking for new players for next season.

What Ventnor Rugby Club said in its announcement

In an open letter from Ventnor RFC, Ed said: "Vectis RFC was established in order to preserve youth rugby on the Island.

"The senior clubs, at the time, were struggling to put out full teams across the age grades.

"So followed an understandable step to merge the teams so that one larger playing pool was created to ensure each age group had the best chance of surviving and in time, thriving.

"The low playing numbers at the time were a side effect of a much larger situation on the Island; very few local schools played rugby; there was investments made into other sports attracting players away from rugby; volunteer numbers and availability had dropped substantially. 

"In recent years, we have seen an uplift in rugby interest in the Ventnor area. Where previously we as a club had found doors closed, there is optimism about the future.

"We are seeing local primary schools now regularly playing tag rugby in lessons and after school. We have seen very good numbers in organised school tournaments.

"After huge investment in our pitches and training areas, the result is that the local community is engaged with us and wants to be more involved.

"With these changes, we believe the time is right for us to be serving our local community, club and sport better by providing our own youth rugby programme.

"This is not to do down any of the hard work Vectis RFC have put in, in fact quite the opposite.

"You have made rugby for Island children sustainable, and have grown playing numbers in very difficult circumstances, we thank you for that.

"We understand the hard work required in developing our own youth and mini programme, and that it may be a slow process, but long term we believe this to be correct for Ventnor and the surrounding area that we serve.

"Sadly, we will no longer be able to provide pitches or training areas for training or playing use by Vectis RFC at Watcombe after this 21/22 season.  

We wish Vectis RFC all the best in the future and we look forward to one day playing against you on the pitch.

Vectis RFC’s commitment to support, facilitate and enable mini and youth rugby on the Isle of Wight has not changed following the unexpected announcement from Ventnor RFC of the relaunch of their youth rugby side on social media on 24 May. 

What Vectis Rugby Club  have said in response

Emma Douglass, Vectis RFC chairman, in an open letter to the County Press, said: "Supported by three youth rugby facilitating institutions across the Island that also follow England RFU’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, Vectis RFC will follow its remit of over 20 years: to enable children from across the Island to learn and play rugby in a safe and encouraging environment in accorde with the England RFU Core Values.

"Vectis RFC will be publishing details of its Registration Day on 4 September in due course. Summer training for some age groups is available and interested parties should contact the club either via its Facebook page or by email to Vectisrfcchairman@gmail.com.