WRU announces £3.5 million cash boost for rugby in Wales
A record £3.5 million immediate cash injection into a range of new initiatives to improve rugby both on and off the field has been unveiled today by the Welsh Rugby Union.
The new money is being targeted at grassroots community club rugby as well as into school and college rugby all across Wales. It will also help enhance the facilities in the Millennium Stadium as well as rugby club facilities throughout the nation.
All of this funding is in addition to money already budgeted by the WRU in its five-year rolling business plan.
The WRU said the extra money has come from a very strong financial performance over the last year.
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said: “Our focus with this new funding is firmly targeted at the foundations and the future of rugby in Wales; grass root clubs, as well as schools and colleges.
“This programme of major investment into the game is intent upon creating and maintaining a modern and attractive sport capable of encouraging more people to get involved in rugby at all levels across our nation. It is targeted at the heart of our sport.
“We want to attract and retain players of all ages, as well as coaches, match officials, volunteers and supporters. This fresh funding will ensure that the game can continue to move forward in the face of competition from an array of other sports and activities. We also want make certain that our facilities in our clubs and in our Millennium Stadium are in the best condition possible.
“We are able to immediately release such significant amounts of new money into rugby projects across Wales due to our powerful financial performance this year.
“We have maintained our strong financial position in the face of unprecedented economic conditions. We have done so through very careful planning, regular and stringent reviews and outstanding team work across all of the WRU. It is incumbent upon us to share these benefits with the whole of Welsh rugby.
“We have thought long and hard about what areas we must prioritise and the extra spending we are announcing today is based upon the results of that review.
“This represents a very responsible investment by the WRU, in that all the projects will significantly improve rugby both on and off the field in real and tangible ways for years to come.”
The WRU has recently bucked economic trends and in the past six years has increased its turnover by around 24% and its distribution of funding into the game across the same period by 30%.
The outstanding debt on the Millennium Stadium has also been reduced from an initial £70 million pounds to a current and record low of just over £26 million with the possibility of the WRU becoming debt free by 2021.
One of the key spends will see £500,000 delivered directly to the community game across Wales in a facilities grant which will encourage clubs to improve their infrastructures.
Details of how clubs can apply for and obtain various levels of grant income of up to £50,000 each will be announced shortly by the WRU.
The WRU and the four Welsh Regions are also in talks about the PwC review into the financial position of regional rugby which begun in December 2011.
The WRU already has committed to a potential £80m distribution to the four regions over a 5 year period in the Participation Agreement signed in 2009: over £30m in cash from the WRU for player release, over £45m from the major competitions in which the regions compete and over £3m of direct funding from the WRU into the regional academies.
Mr Roger Lewis added: “Our talks with the four regions are very positive. I am confident that we can arrive at an agreed way forward very soon. At the heart of the solution will be a much closer working business and rugby relationship between the WRU and the four regions. Working together for the benefit of all of Welsh rugby has to be the answer.”