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GROWING THE GRASSROOTS


The NatWest RugbyForce – involving England stars such as James Haskell (right and below) – is one of RFU’s leading partnership initiatives


Only by improving clubs’ facilities for playing – and those in which to socialise – will we keep rugby at the heart of the community


projects with a total value of nearly £60m. Grassroots projects receiving funding


from RFF include playing surfaces, drainage and pitch improvement projects, artificial pitches and floodlights and changing facilities. There have also been grants for rugby clubs’ social spaces – seen as an important part of creating friendly, community-friendly spaces in which the sport can be played and enjoyed. With one eye on the World Cup, the aim has been to improve clubs’ entrances and common and bar areas, making club houses and spaces more appealing as new players and supporters are attracted in the lead up to the big event. LeRoy Angel, chair of RFF’s board of trustees, says: “The Foundation has helped


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change the landscape of the game in England over the past 12 years. Our clubs are ambitious to keep developing and by improving facilities and playing surfaces they make it possible for more people of all ages to enjoy rugby. Every grant or loan – no matter what the size – makes a meaningful difference to them.” The importance of having fit-for-purpose


spaces in which to play rugby is highlighted by John Spencer, former England and British & Irish Lions player – and an RFU representative on the International Rugby Board. “Without modern facilities we won’t continue to attract and keep young players,” Spencer says. “When I began playing at 15, my club pitches were like rough pastures and the


clubhouse was a pub where we changed. “Luckily, pitches, facilities and the social


scene are all unrecognisable from the early days and the game is expanding and will continue to thrive. Only by improving clubs’ facilities for playing – and those in which to socialise – will we keep them at the heart of the community.” As with participation campaigns, the RFU has recruited sponsors and commercial partners to help with facilities funding – through initiatives such as the NatWest RugbyForce challenge. Last year (2014), just under 500 clubs, with more than 14,500 volunteers, including 19 local MPs, took up the challenge to improve environments at their local clubs – ranging from cleaning, painting and decorating


sportsmanagement.co.uk issue 2 2015 © Cybertrek 2015


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