Boosting grassroots rugby

Transforming young lives and grassroots rugby clubs.

We’ve been playing our part in #UnitingTheMovement with our National Partner Sport England since 2020, transforming lives and communities through sport and physical activity, along with support from regional active partners like Sport Birmingham, Think Active and Lancashire Cricket Foundation, and national VIY 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, 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.

Removing barriers to play

49% of girls say better sports facilities would encourage them to get involved in and excel in sport – and making clubs more inclusive for various underrepresented groups in sport, and other areas, is a big part of what we do. 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”, when we separated their shower facilities through stud walling and tiling.

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.

At Telford Hornets RFC in the West Midlands, we created a doorway between changing rooms to allow for private shower space for females, which didn’t exist previously at the club

Building future resilience and sustainability

Another main aim of our sports programme, including rugby, is to increase financial sustainability of the clubs, who often rely on shoestring budgets to run their facilities, and the generosity of volunteers, members and spectators to keep things running. 63% have reported an increased breadth in their income streams since improvements were made during 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 VIY 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 and increased hire 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 clubs to hire their spaces for 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 hire their club when they are not usually open.

“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