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Rugby clubs celebrate Better Facilities awards

07 May 2013

  • £828,000 awarded to 152 clubs across the country
  • RFU grants help to improve grassroots facilities
Renovated clubhouse as part of the RFU Better Facilities grants

Photo: RFU Archive

Rugby clubs around England are celebrating the award of Better Facilities grants from the Rugby Football Union to improve their clubhouses and pitches. A total of £828,000 has been awarded to 152 clubs, across the length and breadth of the country.

These latest grants, of up to £10,000 each, are part of the RFU’s £10million investment into grassroots rugby clubs announced in October last year. The money will help these clubs prepare for the opportunities presented by England hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

The RFU’s Better Facilities small grants programme will be used for three specific areas – RFU Goalpost Safety, Pitch Maintenance and Social Spaces. It is a key part of the RFU’s new National Facilities Strategy for 2013-17, which aims to support clubs in growing participation, improving the quality of the rugby experience and helping them to become more financially sustainable, up to and beyond 2015.

One of the first clubs to benefit is Hayle RFC in Cornwall, who will receive £7,500 towards a (£19,000) project to renovate and update their bar and function room. First constructed in 1968, it has recently seen a steady decline in use. By undertaking the project the club aims to deliver a more welcoming and modern environment for the local community, improve income for the largest social space in the town and provide a focal point for promoting rugby in 2015.

Elsewhere, a further 151 projects being supported in this round of RFU funding include new goalposts and post protectors for Dukinfield RFC in Cheshire; Charlton Park RFC and Shooters Hill RFC in south east London, who will be able to maintain nine pitches themselves using grounds maintenance equipment recommended by RFU Head Groundsman Keith Kent; and Silloth RFC in Cumbria, who will totally refurbish their clubroom and bar.

Clubs involved will undertake their projects over the summer and so will be able to look forward to kicking off the new season in September with relish.

“We are determined to help rugby clubs across England improve the quality of the rugby experience and provide more playing opportunities and facilities that can be used by local communities,” said the RFU’s Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger.

“This investment will also support the clubs’ financial sustainability over the next four years as we approach the Rugby World Cup in 2015, creating a focus and lasting legacy for rugby in the community.

“The range of projects will help the clubs raise their profiles and encourage more players, volunteers and spectators to join the rugby family and share the special values of which we are very proud.”

Ross Baxter, RFU Facility Investment Manager, emphasised the quality and number of application received. “During March the RFU received 589 applications requesting support for over £3m worth of projects. This demonstrated to us that a new, simpler application process has had a dramatic effect in encouraging clubs to make the case for investment.

“Such was the level of demand and quality of the applications, the RFU allocated an additional £228,000 to the original £600,000 budget. This means that we are able to support projects that clearly underpin the strength of commitment by clubs leading up to 2015.”