• Record Union turnover of £43.7million with a surplus of £860,000 announced
• Commercial partners grow including "transformational” BT agreement
• Club funding increases by 16% to £2.25million with increase to £3million announced for season ahead
• New Club Sustainability Fund launched
• Crowds of more than 550,000 for Scottish Rugby events
• Enhanced live TV coverage of pro-clubs
The Scottish Rugby Union's member clubs gather today (Saturday 16 August) for its Annual General Meeting at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.
Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugby's Chief Executive, will address the AGM and reflect on a remarkable year for Scottish Rugby with mixed results on the pitch and significant improvement in off-field performance, including the biggest single sponsorship in the history of Scottish sport.
On the policy initiatives that Scottish Rugby is advancing in Schools and Youth Rugby, Coaching Pathways, SRU Academies and the Women's Game Dodson will declare: "We have set in motion a blueprint for change that will revolutionise rugby across the nation.
"We now have the opportunity to create a new era for Scottish Rugby. A future that is properly financed through the transformational BT sponsorship agreement; a future that is professionally managed and governed by a revitalised Union; a future that sees schools, clubs and academies beginning to thrive once more, creating a pipeline of home-bred talent to feed all levels of the sport.”
Dodson will note that turnover increased to £43.7million over the period with a surplus of almost £0.9million announced. The Union's debt continues to be reduced significantly and is now at the lowest it has been in a generation. Club support and development funding increased by some 16% over the period to £2.25million and Dodson expects that sum to increase to £3million in the coming season.
A key plank in this will be the launch of a Club Sustainability Fund, where Scottish Rugby will make available £1.6million in total over the next four years for clubs to invest in facilities and projects.
On Scottish Rugby's plans for BT Academies, Dodson will reveal that an agreement has been signed with the University of Aberdeen to host the first academy at their Hillhead facility. Negotiations for other sites in North Lanarkshire; the Borders College Campus at Galashiels; and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh are also progressing.
Dodson will welcome the appointment of new Scotland head coach Vern Cotter, reflecting that he was able to run the rule over approximately 50 players during the course of the summer tour in which Scotland won three of their four matches.
Dodson will highlight that more than 550,000 spectators attended BT Murrayfield, Scotstoun Stadium and other representative fixtures around Scotland in the past year.
He will challenge Glasgow Warriors to "go one better” in the inaugural Guinness PRO12 and lift the title plus make progress to the knockout stages of the new European Champions Cup, while he praises Edinburgh Rugby for recruiting young Scottish talent as its rebuilding process continues.
Dodson will acclaim BBC Scotland for its expanded coverage of the PRO12. He will say: "In addition to having English language commentary (via the red button) on BBC ALBA, BBC 2 Scotland will broadcast a minimum of six games. I want to thank the BBC for their confidence in, and support of, our sport.”
Dodson will also thank all involved in clubs and schools for their unstinting efforts to grow the game throughout the country.
During the course of the meeting clubs voted for the Union's vice-president with three candidates in the running. In the first ballot out of 147 votes, Ed Crozier (Cartha Queens Park) won 72; Euan Kennedy (Watsonians) 52 and Gerry Tosh (Dundee HSFP) 23. With no overall majority, Mr Tosh dropped out for the second ballot which saw the votes cast Ed Crozier 77, Euan Kennedy 70, thus Ed Crozier was elected as vice-president to the new President, Ian Rankin (Dundee HSFP).
Our picture shows Mark Bennett, a product of the Cumnock and Ayr clubs, who has progressed through Glasgow Warriors and Scotland 7s.