Thirty Welsh rugby clubs have been chosen to receive £500 towards completing their NatWest RugbyForce project on the weekend of August 30/31 2014.
NatWest RugbyForce was launched in 2009 to help local rugby clubs improve their facilities with the support of volunteers and the community, with a long term goal of making clubs more financially viable small businesses.
Last year, the Welsh Rugby Union and NatWest announced an enhanced, four year partnership, focussed on supporting the grassroots game through both the NatWest RugbyForce Weekend and the new NatWest RugbyForce Ahead For Business Workshops.
The NatWest RugbyForce Weekend is aimed at supporting clubs to undertake DIY projects around the club and utilising volunteers by opening its doors to the whole community. This year, clubs were encouraged to look at projects, which linked to the club sustainability workshops that are also supported by NatWest. Several projects have been supported, which aim to create a more modern and welcoming environment for club members, volunteers and supporters of all ages, both men and women, and often, in order to make clubs more attractive to other groups and businesses who may wish to utilise the premises.
More than 90 eligible projects were submitted to receive the funding this year with 30 put forward to a judging panel which included Wales outside half Rhys Priestland, NatWest Regional Director for Wales Mark Douglas, NatWest Sponsorship Manager Lee Bailey and members of the WRU Club Operations and Commercial Teams who decided on five regional finalists.
In addition to the £500, the public are now being asked to vote for the overall winner who will receive a larger prize worth £2000 to include a pitch kit comprising of post protectors and flags, a visit from ex Wales and Lions legend Scott Quinnell, a set of Under Armour training tops and a brand new barbecue over their NatWest RugbyForce weekend.
The shortlisted projects for the public vote are:
Pontyclun - 'Changing rooms make over' - internal and external decoration of changing rooms used by the mini and junior teams
Machen - 'A community safe haven' - clearing a waste area behind the clubhouse into a garden play space for the adult, junior and mini sections of the club
Baglan - 'The community that plays together, stays together' - creation of a family friendly patio and spectator area
Machynlleth - 'Community engagement scheme' - improving the attractiveness of the club by making the external areas family friendly to engage the wider community
Cardigan - 'The Big Clean Up' - a general overhaul of the cleanliness of the club, making it a more welcoming and up-to-date environment to attract and retain family groups
All clubs are being encouraged to utilise the weekend (August 30/31) to get together and give their clubhouse a lick of paint or dust down.
Julie Paterson, WRU Head of Compliance said, "Through the NatWest RugbyForce Weekends in recent years, and especially following the 'Ahead for Business' workshops run by NatWest last season, clubs are more conscious of the need to become attractive places for young families and community groups. The number of applications we received this year reflects their desire to improve as businesses.
"Club volunteers form the backbone of our game and we would ask everyone with links to a club to give up some time on NatWest RugbyForce weekend to help those volunteers improve their club environment for all those who use it."
"NatWest RugbyForce is a fantastic opportunity for communities to get together and support their local rugby club," commented Mark Douglas, NatWest Regional Director for Wales. "Last year's campaign was a great success and we're really looking forward to building on this as we continue to show our commitment to supporting grassroots rugby clubs in Wales."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.