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 on Wednesday night. 

The package is split into three parts. A ‘recovery’ fund of up to £500,000 will be made available from next month to help prepare premises and facilities for the coming season. A ‘return to rugby’ fund of up to £1m, also available from May, is earmarked for recruiting and retaining players, coaches, volunteers, match officials and support staff, with clubs invited to apply for ‘kick start’ grants of up to £7,500. Finally, 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 last 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”. 

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, and the terms of the grant were only made public earlier this month following a Freedom Of Information request to Holyrood.