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Community rugby clubs to receive $7.5 million investment boost

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the 26 Provincial Unions have today opened applications for $7.5 million of funding to rugby clubs as part of the recent capital raise process.

Over 450 community rugby clubs are set to receive the Short-term Stakeholder Investment (SSI) ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 per club, with the first round of funds to be paid by the end of October.

NZR General Manager Community Rugby, Steve Lancaster, said the distribution underlined the importance of rugby clubs to the sport.

“Central to bringing investment into the game was community rugby, and the recognition that clubs are a vital part of the game. This funding is about supporting clubs to grow and giving others some short-term financial stability.”

Lancaster added that clubs would be encouraged to focus investment across several key areas for the community game.

We want to make the most of this opportunity right across the game. Alongside the Provincial Unions, we’re encouraging clubs to focus on initiatives that make facilities and environments welcoming, and get more Kiwis playing.

“Hosting the Rugby World Cup has the potential to be a huge boost to women and girls’ rugby, and we’d certainly like clubs to look about how they can use the investment to support this area of the game.”

Community rugby clubs are required to meet a set of criteria to be eligible and complete a submission to their Provincial Union. The total investment will be determined by each club’s registered player numbers over the past five years.

Mid Canterbury Rugby Union CEO Tanya Dearns said clubs could expect to hear from their Provincial Unions as of today.

“This is a massive boost for clubs right around the country. We’re all eager to hear club ideas and see the benefits right across our communities. We’ve taken the time to make sure we get the process right and we’ll be working with clubs on their applications”, said Dearns.

The majority of the SSI funding will go directly to clubs, with some Provincial Unions offering a second option that groups the investment for the collective benefit of clubs.

Waikato Rugby CEO Carl Moon said the collaborative approach reflected the desire to maximise the benefits of the investment.

“Some Provincial Unions have looked at pooling this money so it can have the greatest impact on our community. This is a great chance to invest in the game and we’re looking forward to having those conversations with our clubs.”

The Silver Lake partnership with NZR was confirmed in July and involves an investment of $200m for a minority ownership percentage in NZR Commercial LP. As part of this, distributions to rugby stakeholders were confirmed, including $7.5m for rugby clubs, $2m into Māori Rugby, $20m into Provincial Unions and $900k to other associates. There will also be a $60m contribution to a new Legacy Fund, an amount set aside to invest in growth, various investments across the game and the balance of funds after costs will form an injection in to NZR reserves to safeguard the game against any future financial disruptions.

NZR will provide more details regarding distribution of funds to other members and rugby stakeholders in the coming weeks.

The SSI announcement comes after NZR launched a new two-year initiative in July this year to strengthen community rugby clubs around the country.

The Future of Rugby Clubs project will identify the current and preferred future state of the rugby club system in New Zealand and provide a transformational plan for NZR to implement.

Provincial Unions will be contacting their clubs from today.

Community rugby club investment tiering

Player numbers are determined by the average number of registrations a club has had across each of the seasons it has fielded at least one team in the past five years. Registration data from 2019 will be used in 2020 due to Covid-19.

Registered players