RFU announces Better Facilities funding programme


- Credit: Archant

The Rugby Football Union is to commit £10 million over the next four years to help clubs improve their clubhouses and pitches.

The funding forms part of the RFU’s new National Facilities Strategy for 2013-17 and will help around 500 clubs to become ‘Fit for 15’ in the lead up to, and legacy from, the Rugby World Cup 2015.

Smaller scale developments, which can make all the difference to grassroots rugby clubs, are also being catered for by the RFU in its ‘Better Facilities’ initiative.

There will be £600,000 available as part of the Better Facilities small grants programme which will be used for three specific areas – RFU Goalpost Safety, Pitch Maintenance and Social Spaces. Rugby clubs across the length and breadth of England are being encouraged to apply – the programme is being launched tomorrow, March 1 and applications from clubs have to be received by March 31.

The RFU Goalpost Safety programme will offer 50 sets of goalposts and protectors and the Pitch Maintenance programme will offer grants of up to £10,000 for pitch maintenance equipment.

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The Social Spaces programme will offer grants of up to £7,500 for projects that transform club social spaces with the aim of restoring rugby clubs to the heart of their local communities. This is the first time that the RFU has offered grants for social facilities.

“The RFU is determined to help rugby clubs across England to maximise the opportunity that the Rugby World Cup 2015 presents to grow the game,” said RFU chairman Bill Beaumont.

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“We want rugby clubs to remain an integral part of their local communities and improving their facilities and pitches is one way of achieving that aim.

“We have committed significant funds over the next four years but we appreciate that for some clubs it is the smaller projects, such as new goalposts, pitch maintenance equipment and facilities that can be used by the local community, which can make a significant difference.”

Rugby pitches have suffered in many parts of the country due to the harsh weather conditions and it can be a constant battle to maintain good playing surfaces in many clubs.

“This new grant reflects the RFU’s commitment to supporting club groundsmen throughout the country in their quest to provide the perfect pitch” said the RFU’s National Facilities Manager, Ross Baxter.

“The ability to access funding to enable clubs to upgrade their pitch maintenance equipment will help them to carry out their work smarter, faster and in a more cost effective way. This will be invaluable as we move forward towards 2015 and beyond”.

As well as the smaller grants provided by the Better Facilities programme, around £1.6 million will be available to clubs for grants for major projects such as pitches, floodlights and changing rooms. Projects will be identified locally though Constituent Bodies’ facility plans where clubs are asked to identify capital projects that will help them maximise opportunities presented by RWC 2015. This investment will be a key part of the RFU’s plans to develop a network of RFU Lead Up and Legacy Centres across the country.

Further information on the small grants programme, including the applications forms, is available from the RFU at www.rfu.com/betterfacilities.

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