Scottish Rugby announces £6.5million funding package for grassroots game

Three funds will be directed towards the community game over the next five years, following a £15m grant from the Scottish Government

Colin Arthur carries the ball for Musselburgh versus Currie Chieftains. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Colin Arthur carries the ball for Musselburgh versus Currie Chieftains. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH RUGBY has promised a support package for the grassroots game worth up to £6.5million over the next five years. The programme was ratified by a meeting of the Scottish Rugby Council last night.

The package comes in the form of:

  1. A ‘recovery’ fund of up to £500,000 which will be made available from next month to help prepare premises and facilities for the coming season.
  2. A ‘return to rugby’ fund of up to £1m, also available from May, for recruiting and retaining players, coaches, volunteers, match officials and support staff. Clubs will be invited to apply for ‘kick start’ grants of up to £7,500.
  3. A ‘growth and participation’ fund released in five consecutive years from January 2022 to January 2026 which will “look to support plans and programmes from the Union and clubs individually and collectively to create sustainable improvements in player numbers”.  According to the statement released by Scottish Rugby this afternoon, this fund will “focus on schools and youth rugby with an emphasis on state schools” and “also drive a comprehensive girls and women’s strategy from primary schools through to the international team”.

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It is not clear at this stage if the ‘return to rugby’ and the ‘growth and participation’ funds will be paid directly to clubs, or whether some of the money will be directed into the grassroots game via Murrayfield’s Rugby Development Department.

“This comprehensive funding package has been designed to not only meet the existing needs of clubs as we look to resume after the pandemic, but to also have a lasting impact on growth and participation in the community game in Scotland,” said Scottish Rugby President Ian Barr. “The Council will be involved in the awards process and welcomes the generous funding from the Scottish Government which has contributed to this raft of support being made possible.”

The Scottish Government announced last December that it had awarded £15m in grant funding and a £5m low-interest loan to Scottish Rugby in order to “support rugby clubs across Scotland that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic”. The full value of the grant was paid to Scottish Rugby in February. The terms of the grant were only made public earlier this month following a Freedom Of Information request to Holyrood.

“This is a massive boost to clubs across the country and we are delighted to be in a position to fund programmes and activities designed to stimulate the game in Scotland following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on club activity and finances,” said Scottish Rugby Chairman John Jeffrey. “We welcome the generous support of the Scottish Government and are committed to distribute any funding in accordance with their guidelines.”

Last night’s Council meeting was due to discuss concerns raised by a number of clubs about how the Scottish Government funding has been distributed. The concerned clubs will be anxious to find out how that conversation progressed.

More details of the application process and key areas of award will be published shortly and communicated directly to member clubs.

Any club with an immediate funding issue that requires direct intervention from Scottish Rugby’s Rugby Development department should go directly to their Regional Director.


Clubs seek answers from Scottish Rugby over use of £15m government grant

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 2349 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

21 Comments

  1. Dave – you refer to the £15 million “government money”, which is in fact the grant element of an overall SG financial bailout package amounting to £20 million in total.

    It is particularly important not to overlook or forget the £5 million SG loan – repayable in equal annual instalments over 20 years, @ zero % interest – ALL of it designated in the legal documentation to support Scottish grassroots rugby clubs…. following pressure we ourselves had applied via the Sports Minister, the Holyrood Health and Sport Committee, MSP’s and officials.

  2. Grant I’ve just seen your post at 9.19 on 23rd absolutely on the money and worth double thumbs-up points you make excellent comment regarding the work and effort from the Grass-roots and Amateur Clubs and all their volunteers that do as much and probably more than some of the individuals who are paid handsomely and fail significantly to gain the trust of many.

  3. Aside from the glaring disparity between the “offering” and the £20m support package generously provided by the SG from taxpayers’ funds – the key question on the lips of most potentially eligible (club) recipients will concern accessibility of any the SRU’s over-hyped largesse….

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  4. £!5 Million already paid to SRU in February and this announcement of “potentially” £6.5 Million over 5 years to clubs. Think someone needs to resit National 4 Maths!

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  5. Neil’s comment is rather interesting? In response, this is yet another PR disaster by the SRU. Why have they sat on this funding for so long? Another situation where someone needs to take them to task before they disclose anything.
    I think Neil has been asleep for some time if he has missed all the concerns raised previously regarding the lack of transparency and failure by the SRU to treat their staff properly. In any other situation heads in the top brass would have been on the chopping block following the Tribunal Judges remarks! Instead, there is a review that is not published.
    Sorry to disagree with you Neil but I am concerned about the running of the SRU by those presently employed. I believe I have a right to take my employees to task and I am grateful to the Offsideline for bringing many of these items to my attention. I call that good journalism!

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  6. Absolute horse poop 💩💩

    None of this is unprecedented. £6.5 million over 5 years. So basically next to nothing of the 15 million government money is actually being spent on grass roots rugby.

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  7. Interesting news development but I will wait till I see the details.

    One question will be on the recovery fund. Is this additional funding or the rebadged fund from last seasons hardship fund 2 for electrical testing and legionella disinfection?

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    • Oh now you will wait and see on the details? You were not waiting for the details before bashing the SRU along with a great many others just a few days ago.

      Pathetic.

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      • Well Neil you have to be commended, no one can criticise your steadfast support for the unsupportable, with faith like yours the Titanic would have remained afloat till the RMS Carpathia arrived.
        There is a saying that is applicable to certain individuals that attract skepticism and in many peoples mind Dodson fits the bill.
        Keep to mind the old saying ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice: shame on me’.
        Mr. Dodson has not been the most open, nor the most considerate of individuals and some with closer knowledge of him have described him from personal knowledge [and I believe on oath] as arrogant as well as ‘it is the Dodson way or the Highway’ and there is no requirement to go into historical fact to prove that point.
        The detail, like the Budget or your Insurance Policy, is in the small print and with the individual involved Sherlock Holmes and his Magnifying Glass would be a welcome addition to the scrutineers.

      • Well Neil you have to be commended, no one can criticise your steadfast support for the unsupportable, with faith like yours the Titanic would have remained afloat till the RMS Carpathia arrived.
        There is a saying that is applicable to certain individuals that attract skepticism and in many peoples mind there is a primary individual that fits the bill.
        Keep to mind the old saying ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice: shame on me’.
        The person concerned has not been the most open, nor the most considerate of individuals and some with closer knowledge of him have described him from personal knowledge [and I believe on oath] as arrogant as well as ‘it is his way or the Highway’ and there is no requirement to go into historical fact to prove that point.
        The detail, like the Budget or your Insurance Policy, is in the small print and with the individual involved Sherlock Holmes and his Magnifying Glass would be a welcome addition to the scrutineers.

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      • It’s really quite straight forward Neil. I want to see the details to see if what’s claimed is actually correct.

        Is this additional cash? As explained above the previous hardship 2 fund wasn’t given out as there was no restart.

        Your choice of wording is very revealing. “Bashing” – really?

        Perhaps go step back through the timeline of all this. Prior to the 15 April there was no hint of any of this funding. Scottish Rugby were advised of the grant and loan in December.

        As soon as the award letter is made public, sudden movement from Murrayfield. Pure coincidence obviously.

        I would also add that I’ve been present at two regional fora where senior SRU personnel were present. No hint or suggestion that there were any discussions about club funding. So all we can go on are the words of the CEO from Sky Sports on the 24 Feb 2021 “ But we have had a material grant from Government that has allowed us to repair our balance sheet to a certain extent.” Little dubiety in those words IMO.

        It has taken four months to come up with the bones of this series of funds with zero information on what the criteria are.

        So yes I will wait thanks.

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      • I have a question for you Neil…I hope you will find it within your canon to be able to answer truthfully.

        What local club are you a member of and how long have you volunteered, or played and/or coached for them?

        The reason I ask is if you have a local club that you truly care about you should be as incensed as everyone else is who genuinely cares about what happens at the grass roots of our game. As that is where Rugby starts and ends…at your local club.

        Do you think that the SRU was started by a bunch of venture fund lads who decided to put together a union to further their financial portfolio? Rhetorically speaking, the answer is simple. This game would NOT exist without those local clubs, their volunteers, coaches and players who do this for nothing more than the love of the game, and neither would the union. The only reward being that one day their club might produce pro players who develop into test players, maybe a Lion here or there, and potentially come back to the club to play a few games when their illustrious career is coming to an end.

        Sadly, and please correct me if I am wrong, you are thoroughly caught up in the commerciality of the pro game with little understanding of how much grass roots rugby matters to todays professional game. Its not just about buying an Edinburgh jersey and turning up for a few beers at the occasional game or roaring at the TV with a takeaway on your lap.

        The hard yards are put in by these good people in the evenings, Saturday and Sunday mornings, both home and away. Ferrying children to blitzes, raising funds that are not given by the union, creating a sense of community within their locality, bringing in much needed support from local councils, businesses, and trying to build something that will stand the test of time.

        Your attitude is an insult to those people, and everyone involved in making local rugby viable for the community, and the wider game.

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      • Being supported by Neil must be like your best mate ripping off your jacket in the Celtic end to reveal your Rangers shirt.

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