Major Cash Boost For Club And Grassroots Rugby

More than £5 million will be spent in total on club and grassroots rugby in Scotland in 2008/09 up from £3.734 million in the past year, Scottish Rugby's Chief Executive Gordon McKie announced today. The £1.3million funding boost for the club game and grassroots development reflects the increasing priority which Scottish Rugby places on this vital sector of the sport.More than £5 million will be spent in total on club and grassroots rugby in Scotland in 2008/09 up from £3.734 million in the past year, Scottish Rugby's Chief Executive Gordon McKie announced today.

The £1.3million funding boost for the club game and grassroots development reflects the increasing priority which Scottish Rugby places on this vital sector of the sport.

Of that £3.734 million in 2007/08, Scottish Rugby spent £933K on club support and development and £2.8million on community and performance rugby.

For the forthcoming season the corresponding sums will be £1.4 million (more than 50% of an increase) and £3.6 million (more than 37% of an increase)

Mr McKie said today: "I'm delighted to confirm a more than 50% increase in the monies we make available directly through club support and development funding. We're able to do this because of the significant progress we've made in establishing new commercial relationships in both the private and public sector.

_x001C_We have ambitious plans to grow Scottish club rugby over the next few years. Our target is 38,000 players by 2012 (from a starting point of 27,000 last year) and over 8,000 volunteers supporting these players at our 233 member clubs.

_x001C_In order to achieve that we recognise the importance of a well-resourced and better funded club game and there is no doubt that the partnerships we are cultivating with the business community, Scottish Government, local authorities, schools and clubs, are crucial to achieving that goal.

_x001C_We are also able to make this investment as a consequence of the robust financial management we have put in place and our efforts to bring additional high profile events to Murrayfield Stadium, which are beginning to bear fruit."

He explained that money generated through
" Scottish Rugby's own activities including ticket sales
" business support from key partners including Murray, Canterbury, RBS and Bank of Scotland Corporate alongside various other new community partners; and
" the relationship with the Scottish Government including the relaxation on the sale of alcohol at international matches at Murrayfield Stadium
was all being channelled towards increased investment in the club game.

Club support and development funding goes direct to clubs and includes:

" Payments for participation in Scottish Hydro Electric Leagues/Cup.
" Contributions to league and cup travel costs
" Minor works grants
" Commissions for sales of international tickets
" Player reward scheme for nurturing players who win professional contracts
" Joint funding of the majority of rugby development officers

In addition, this sum includes payment by Scottish Rugby of all club accident insurance premiums direct to the insurers on behalf of clubs, which is worth a total of £250,000 per annum.

Community and performance funding includes:

" The team of eight Regional Development Managers, supported by sportscotland, who lead community rugby development throughout Scotland and in specific sectors such as the women's game and universities rugby
" Rugby development officers for the Women's game and refereeing
" Coach education
" The Performance Development team - comprising six Performance Development Managers, a Women's Development Manager and an Exiles Development Manager, who are responsible for identifying the best players in their regions (partly-funded by sportscotland and the IRB) and, within that, the costs of the Pathway programme
" The National Academy coaches
" Medical services at various community and performance rugby matches held throughout the season

Clubs will receive further information during tomorrow's Scottish Rugby Union annual general meeting at Murrayfield.

Colin Thomson, Scottish Rugby's Head of Community Rugby, said: _x001C_There is a wealth of activity going on in clubs and schools around Scotland as more people are becoming involved in rugby.

_x001C_This additional funding will be welcomed as a catalyst to ensure we open our doors to more people and keep driving up participation and interest in the game._x001D_

First reaction from the clubs was positive. Newly elected president of Garnock - winners of the Scottish Hydro Electric Shield and promoted to Scottish Hydro Electric Premiership Division 3 - prop forward Andy King said: _x001C_It's welcome news. Anything that means we're able to put extra money towards making it easier for more people including kids to play rugby at Garnock has got to be good._x001D_

Note to editors: The trend in the last two years has been to increase spend in the club game based on strong partnerships being established against agreed development criteria. In 2007 club support and development funding was £565K and community and performance funding was £2.26 million. This increased to £933K and £2.8million respectively in the past year.