Financial Concerns in English Rugby

The review of Women’s rugby undertaken after a range of issues came to the fore post our hosting of the Rugby World Cup last year is expected to go before the influential IRFU Committee this week as part of the overall new strategic plan being prepared for the sport.

Events across the water in England will no doubt also be on the agenda with news this week of good and bad news for the sport.

To start with the good the RFU has announced that 28 full-time contracts will be offered in the Women’s 15’s game from January 2019 in time for the next 6 Nations tournament. This rows back on the disappointment this time last year when a focus on 7’s meant that contracts were not renewed for 2018.

It seems now though that the contracts will be available on a permanent basis with money set aside and ring fenced to meet the cost.

“This has long been our ambition and demonstrates the RFU’s commitment to growing the women’s game and the belief we have in the future of the sport,” said CEO Steve Brown.

“The move will continue to drive standards in the game both at a domestic and international level with all England players eligible to play for their clubs in the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition, returning to the RFU for England duties.”

“We are at a tipping point for women’s rugby globally and it is our ambition to be world number one and drive growth at every level.”

“As an organisation, from top to bottom, we are very much behind this and want to see the continued expansion and growth to realise the ambitious targets we have set ourselves.”

Under its women and girls strategy, the RFU plans to double the number of participants by 2021, increase the number of women’s teams by more than 75% to 800, the number of active women’s clubs to more than 400 and get more women involved in the sport as referees, coaches and volunteers.

The commitment is easier to say than to fund but the focus does appear to be crystal clear.

That is important because of the bad news coming out at the same time with up to 60 redundancies also taking place as part of a major cost-cutting exercise.

This has been necessitated by a reported €35 million overspend on the redevelopment of Twickenham Stadium.

A programme of installation of artificial pitches which had been part of a legacy programme following on from the hosting of the 2015 Rugby World Cup has also been placed on hold.

The 2019 version of that tournament will provide a funding boost for Unions around the world. It would appear that the game in England might be in need of that more than most.


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