Backing grassroots will offer best ‘rugby return’
SO, to address their continuing financial issues, the RFU are belatedly setting in place “financial metrics, against which spending and investment decisions will be made to ensure the greatest rugby and financial returns”.
Unfortunately, current indications from Twickenham are that community clubs needing to fund the replacement of outdated clubhouse facilities and services are unlikely to be able to count on any significant contribution from HQ beyond £100,000 interest free loans – very helpful in smoothing cashflows, but costing the RFU only the modest commercial interest income they are foregoing.
At the same time, the Premiership and Championship clubs will continue to receive the lion’s share of RFU funding, while also being effectively subsidised in kind by junior clubs around the country.
These junior clubs are stretching their volunteer and financial resources to breaking point to provide adequate facilities for Mini and Youth rugby – these clubs are the source of the bulk of the raw playing material, on which the top clubs depend.
Unfortunately, because, by definition, community clubs operate in the interests of their players, we are not in a position to hold the RFU or professional clubs to ransom for our better players in return, say, for a “Community Game Agreement” to secure our financial futures – we want our members to be able to play the best rugby they are capable of.
Without such a gun to their head, it is probably far too much to hope for an enlightened new regime that might recognise the need to mobilise greater financial support for community clubs.
If they do not, though, they are running a serious risk that the creaking infrastructure, volunteer base and finances of grassroots rugby will collapse.
What greater “rugby return” could possibly be gained from an investment than the prevention of such a catastrophe? JOHN ALLANSON Bishop’s Stortford