Clubs can apply for a grant of either £20 000, £5 000 or £1000, amounts that must already be match-funded by the club. This takes the level of investment in club facilities to half a million pounds, while the WRU has also earmarked a further £500 000 for its Club Loan Scheme, which enables clubs to apply for additional funding for facilities projects up to the level of its grant application. For example, if a club can raise £20 000, it can apply for a grant of £20 000 and a WRU club loan for the same amount. Clubs may be eligible for WRU club loans even if they are not successful in applying for grant funding.
Criteria have been set to ensure the grants:
- benefit clubs in every area of Wales
- reward clubs who have already raised part of the monies they require for club projects
- give priority to clubs that have the highest participation levels
The £20 000 grants, one per region (Scarlets, Blues, Ospreys, Dragons and North Wales) will focus on projects which will provide additional, community based facilities such as changing rooms, community halls and floodlights.
The £5 000 grants (four per region) are destined for projects to upgrade existing facilities such as additional changing facilities for clubs running women's, girls, junior and mini rugby sides, while 50 grants of £1000 will remove barriers to increasing participation levels in Welsh rugby by helping clubs to provide equipment for new teams, such as women's, girls, junior and youth teams.
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said, "Grass roots rugby clubs are the heart and soul of the game in Wales. Rugby clubs across our nation are often at the centre of our communities providing sporting, social and healthy living benefits. They are the glue which holds so many of our towns and villages together. That's why we are delighted with the level of support we have received from the Foundation of Sports and Arts and that's why the WRU is prepared to invest so much into the community game. Rugby can define us as a nation and it can unite us as a nation. A winning Wales at the highest level needs the game to thrive at the grass roots.
"Thousands of volunteer coaches, team managers, match officials and administrators around Wales do an amazing job in nurturing our young talent - but it is important that the facilities available to our players and coaches match that level of commitment.
"We have recently undertaken a survey of club facilities in Wales which shows an urgent need for investment in club facilities and following this financial boost, we will be seeking to engage with other organisations and partners in Wales, to try to ensure appropriate facilities are available throughout Wales."
Details of the grant criteria and application forms have been sent to all WRU clubs, with the deadline for bids set for Friday 19 September 2008.