The Welsh Rugby Union has revealed details of an immediate £900,000 cash sum that has been allocated to spend on community rugby as part of a move to further enhance and highlight the importance the Union places on the grassroots game.
This is part of an extra £3.5 million that was recently announced to help improve rugby both on and off the field. Clubs have now been informed how they will directly benefit from this new money.
In order to aid the efforts of clubs to attract new players, coaches and referees to the game, £500,000 has been committed to a WRU Club Facilities Grant which clubs can apply for and an extra £200,000 one-off fund will be split between clubs to reward recruitment initiatives.
Club Facilities Grants ranging from £2,500 to £50,000 will be available to clubs which put forward plans for development programmes and initiatives approved by the WRU. A percentage of the grants will be awarded to individual club and community-based initiatives, with an element of match funding needed, while the more substantial amounts will go to joint bids or initiatives which will benefit the wider area.
The recruitment grant aid will help clubs, amongst other things, to form additional teams and will be linked to the Join The Beat campaign - a WRU project aimed at helping clubs recruit more players, coaches, administrators and volunteers.
Core grants for clubs will remain unchanged for the coming season but the WRU Board has unanimously backed the findings of a Working Party which concluded that future investment into the community game will concentrate solely on rugby investment, recruitment investment and retention investment. The details of the future core funding of the community game will be developed further in due course following the completion of the 2012 WRU Census.
In addition to the facilities and recruitment grants, £200 000 has been earmarked to further develop Schools and Colleges rugby with further spending taking the total monies being pumped into the grassroots game totalling over £900 000.
This commitment to the growth of the community game comes at a time when the elite game is celebrating Grand Slam success and a semi-final placing at the last Rugby World Cup.
The Millennium Stadium is also boosting its global status with Olympic Games soccer arriving this summer and Rugby World Cup 2015 games scheduled to be held there as well.
The Wales Under 20 side has just returned fromSouth Africa where they finished in third place and became the first nation to defeat the All Blacks in a Junior World Championship.
WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, said: "I am delighted to announce these new financial initiatives for club rugby in Wales.
"The community game underpins everything we do and it is vital we help our member clubs develop in ways which will attract more people to get involved in rugby.
"We want to deliver participation levels in rugby which will maintain the game as the national sport of Wales.
"These are challenging economic times so I am pleased to be able to reassure our member clubs that the WRU is achieving the financial results which allow us to commit money where it is most needed."
WRU Head of Rugby, Joe Lydon, said: "A lot of hard work has gone into reviewing the way the community game is funded and we believe we have developed a formula which will benefit the Welsh game for years to come.
"We have to reward the better clubs by investing in their success and helping them to attract more people into the game.
"We need more players, coaches, match officials, first aiders, administrators and supporters and the clubs have a duty to create the sort of environments people want to belong to.
"If our clubs want to remain the hubs of our communities they have to be modern and progressive organisations and we will do all we can to help them maintain and develop accordingly."