Boosting grassroots rugby

Transforming young lives and grassroots rugby clubs.

A big portion of our work involves enabling active communities, with match-funding for all active projects from our National Partner Sport England, along with support from regional active partners like Sport Birmingham, Think Active and Lancashire Cricket Foundation and other national programmes like the Barclays Community Football Fund.

Boosting grassroots rugby has always been a big part of our sports programmes, through match-funded projects like Coventrians RFC with Toolstation, and our larger programmes in collaboration with the Rugby Football Union (RFU). All with the aim to help them become more inclusive, become more financially sustainable and ultimately help more local people to get active and involved with the game.

Here’s the headlines of our latest RFU programme across 2022-23 and the positive impact we’ve had on 10 grassroots rugby clubs across the country, including data from our 3 month post-project follow-up with the clubs.

Removing barriers to play

This figure speaks volumes. A big part of what we do across all of our work to help get people more active is removing barriers for groups who previously may have felt unwelcome in the sports club or unable to use the space due to lack of suitable facilities. There’s still so much more to do to help more people feel included and inspired to get involved in sport and get active, however we’re helping clubs make important changes. For example, Stockwood Park RFC in Luton told us:

“women/girls use of the facility has increased as they have more confidence in the security [the new partitioning wall] brings.” [as pictured below]

Building future resilience and sustainability

Another main aim of our rugby programme was to increase financial sustainability of the clubs, who often rely on membership fees/attendance, volunteers and the generosity of members and people who attend the club. 63% have also reported an increased breadth in their income streams since improvements were made following their VIY project – with improvements like building advertising hoarding outside Southampton RFC helping to bring in thousands extra in cash for the club per year.

“Use of the outdoor seating area installed by the project has increased and improved the overall user experience. We’ve seen an increased number of positive comments from both members and non members… with increased base membership/ increased hire usage since project completion.

Millbrook RFC, Southampton [pictured above]

Increasing player capacity

This is crucial to both the competitive and financial sustainability of grassroots clubs. Enabling spaces to host additional sports and local groups, including through creating more inclusive, modern and welcoming spaces for these audiences, helps support this mission. For example Stockwood Park RFC in Luton have been able to attract a gaelic football club to use their club when they are not usually open.

Safer shower space is now available for our increased number of female players and we are now offering rugby sessions to vulnerable adults with support from local police.

Telford Hornets RFC, West Midlands [pictured above: creating a doorway between changing rooms to allow for private shower space for females, which didn’t exist previously at the club]

“The changing room facility improvements have been very well received by all ages and both home and away teams. High standard playing facilities are key to retaining young people in sports, especially at a time when we are seeing an overall decrease in playing numbers across the country.”

Woodford RFC, Essex [pictured above: young people help to create fit-for-purpose changing rooms including bench seating, as pictured in the page header here]