MX23RW : Monday, April 19 06:38:59| >> :600:3829703:3829703:

Grassroots rugby union to receive over £40m as part of survival package

Loans and grants will be distributed by the Rugby Football Union to community clubs.

Grassroots rugby union will receive more than £40million as part of the latest tranche of the Government's Sport Winter Survival Package.

Loans and grants will be distributed by the Rugby Football Union to community clubs as the coronavirus pandemic continues to have an impact on grassroots sport.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said £22million of loans will be made available to support the survival of community club assets, with a further £17million of grant and £3million of loan funding going towards survival costs.

It was also announced that up to £5.5million of funding will be provided to help with the launch of the men's Championship campaign, while £1.1million of grants will be given to professional women's rugby, covering Covid-19 related costs for England's Women's Six Nations campaign and the Premier 15s.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "We know that the restrictions on spectators continue to have consequences for many sports, particularly rugby union and its clubs from elite through to grassroots level.

"We are continuing to work closely with the RFU on bringing the competitive, full-contact community game back as soon as possible. With the real progress we are making through the vaccination programme we are increasingly confident."

Bill Sweeney believes the package will allow rugby clubs to 'survive and thrive'
Bill Sweeney believes the package will allow rugby clubs to 'survive and thrive' (Steven Paston/PA)

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: "Covid has impacted all sports and rugby has faced an incredibly challenging time with many asset-owning community clubs across the country having significant overheads but with no revenues for over a year.

"The RFU has undertaken significant restructuring to reduce its cost base. Despite this, with 85 per cent of our income coming from hosting international matches at Twickenham, our revenues have reduced by around £140million in the last year and we expect a loss of around £30-35million in this financial year.

"With significant changes to the way we operate and a difficult restructuring we can weather this challenge, however, some of our clubs are not in such a strong position.

"The Sports Winter Survival Package means that rugby clubs, which play a huge role in their wider communities, will also survive and thrive."

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