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Scottish Rugby welcomed Maree Todd, Scottish Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport to Perthshire RFC yesterday (Thursday 26 August) to celebrate the return to rugby.
Ms Todd was joined in Perth by Scottish Rugby Director of Rugby Development, Gavin Scott and Scottish Rugby Chairman John Jeffrey, with the event designed to demonstrate both Scottish Rugby’s gratitude to the Scottish Government for its operational and financial support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, which has materially benefitted the domestic game.
Utilising the government loan, Scottish Rugby has delivered over £1.1M via its Return to Rugby funding programme to 144 clubs and societies to support the recovery and resumption of activity following the Covid-19 pandemic which stopped all rugby in Scotland from March 2020 onwards.
The Kick Starts grant scheme, which formed part of the Return to Rugby funding programme has enabled the likes of Gala Rugby, who were in receipt of nearly £5,000, to super-charge their annual sevens event to host a community sports and musical festival called ‘Maroon’d at Gala’ which involved over 800 participants.
Elsewhere in the country, Huntly RFC and Moray RFC collaborated to deliver a women and girls summer rugby series utilising £9,000 of Kick Start grants funding to grow the game in the north-east.
A further allocation of the government funding will be delivered to clubs over the coming five years, going towards stimulating Growth and Participation.
Heralding the resumption of the game, Scottish Rugby Director of Rugby Development, Gavin Scott said: “It’s been a difficult time for clubs not being able to fully enjoy rugby over the last 18 months, but we have managed to restart over the summer and watching the club game bounce back during that time has been extremely welcome.
“The funding we have been able to invest into our clubs and societies with support from the Scottish Government has gone a long way to help recharge the game in Scotland following the impact of the pandemic.
“Creating the Return to Rugby funding programme to support clubs and by engaging them with our return to rugby campaign ‘Everyone’s Game’ has been hugely beneficial in restarting the game. Clubs and societies have been really creative in delivering events and initiatives to welcome back their players, members and volunteers.” Gavin Scott
Speaking at the event Scottish Rugby Chairman, John Jeffrey said: “Club rugby is back, and it’s back with a bang. We have been waiting for 18 months for this to happen; people will be playing rugby, volunteers will be back involved, everyone is back to it. Looking around here tonight, you see the excitement and enthusiasm from all ages and genders.
“I’d like to extend my thanks on behalf of Scottish Rugby to Maree Todd, the First Minister and colleagues across Government for their financial and operational support through the pandemic, ensuring we can get back to playing rugby in a safe and enjoyable manner.”
In three weeks’ time, Perthshire will host their first community event since 2020, utilising funding they received via the Kick Starts grant.
Allan Brown, Chief Executive at Perthshire RFC said: “Our club has been in receipt of over £14,000 from Scottish Rugby via the Return to Rugby funding programme. We have been able to update our facilities in line with covid regulations to create a safer environment for players, volunteers and spectators, and we further plan to use funding to deliver community events over the course of the year. Ultimately, we would not have been able to do any of that without Scottish Rugby’s funding programme.
“The club are really champing at the bit to get back and play rugby. From the minis right up to the seniors, including the coaches and parents, everyone is excited to be out in the fresh air and enjoy a bit of rugby time because they just love the game so much.”