Gareth Davies addresses the results of the recent survey of Welsh rugby club finances in the latest WRU Status update, which also includes a message of support from HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge:
Our stated ambition at the start of this crisis was to bring all of our clubs with us and to meet everyone again on the other side. We intend to be able to count the same number of clubs out, when the season starts once again, as we counted in at the beginning of March when the decision was taken to suspend play indefinitely based on government advice and we are progressing well.
Through our Covid-19 working group, which has been set up to look at both the performance and the community side of our game, we are creating a set of guidelines, based on, linked to and moving alongside government guidelines. Our guidelines will cover all aspects of prospective return to play from safety and hygiene to player practice, supporter integration and club-house management.
We hope member clubs will have noticed, we have ramped up our communication practices, writing in detail twice a week, but also asking our regional managers to make as much direct contact as possible, as these are the relationships that will be vital to our future sustainability.
We have also now received responses from over 200 clubs to a survey which specifically targets sustainability during the current crisis. This information is vitally important to us as we continue to formulate plans to return to rugby. The information we have received from our clubs will help us to ensure that they emerge with us intact into a post-lockdown world when the time is right and that they emerge ready to return to positions at the heart of communities throughout Wales.
There is more information to come about this survey and its relationship to potential further funding, but suffice to say this kind of information gathering and our collective response will continue to pay dividends in the long term and presents us with a huge opportunity to create a financially stable club environment for the future. All the decisions we are taking on funding are geared towards, support, maintenance and survival of our member clubs.
We issued a payment to our clubs of £1,000 each in March from a hardship fund designed to help combat the effects of the current crisis, this was on top of specific funding to clubs which had been affected be the recent flooding issues after Storm Dennis, and our regular quarterly audit payment to clubs was made as normal at the end of April.
Given these payments and external support from Welsh Government, the Survey indicates that the majority of our clubs will continue to be sustainable for a minimum of six months.
This is excellent news given the current situation, but we know that this would not be the case if this support wasn’t available and we are concerned that some clubs may still be falling through the cracks in terms of accessing Welsh Government funding.
While our clubs have been widely impacted by Storm Dennis and the Covid-19 Pandemic, for some their financial situation cannot be fully on account of these situations. Some clubs have reported just one or two months of reserves available to them in April 2020 and this suggests a club living beyond its means.
I don’t make this point to criticise individuals or even specific clubs, but to point to the opportunity for us all to work together to ensure financial models throughout our game are sustainable and fit for purpose. We will do this together, just as we will emerge from this current situation as one. We are the Welsh Rugby Union, a union of clubs, and we are here for you just as you are here for us.
Yours in rugby,
Gareth Davies WRU chairman
COVID-19 Club Guides & Webinars
Following a review of the Club Impact Surveys received to date, as mentioned above, the suggestions provided by clubs will be used to host a series of webinars in the coming weeks.
In order for us to provide the most appropriate support, please could you complete and submit the short from:https://app.doopoll.co/poll/jthrG2Q7CsT45Ch88
Rugby law change
The World Rugby Council has announced that, with immediate effect, it will no longer be possible to score a try by grounding the ball against the post protector unless the ball is touching the goal-line. At its meeting today, the World Rugby Council approved a minor amendment to Law 8.2 relating to scoring against the base of the post.
The minor amendment to Law 8.2 was approved by the World Rugby Council during its special meeting held via teleconference today and follows a recommendation by the international federation's Rugby Committee and specialist Laws Review Group.
With defending players currently legally obliged to stay behind the goal-line and post-protector shape and size increasing for welfare reasons, it is increasingly difficult for teams to legally defend this area. In some extreme cases, post protectors have been lifted or moved by defending teams, leaving the posts exposed and therefore increasing the risk of injury.
The amended law will now read: The post protector is no longer an extension of the goal-line and therefore Law 8.2 (a) will read: A try is scored when the attacking player a) is first to ground the ball in the opponents’ in-goal. More: www.world.rugby/news/569171
WELSH GOVERNMENT FUND
Whilst the Economic Resilience Fund has been paused, to give Welsh Government the opportunity to consider what further support businesses, charities and social enterprises need, it has not yet been suspended and it is hoped that it will relaunch in the near future. It is recommended that clubs continue to monitor the Business Wales website for further updates:businesswales.gov.wales/
SMALL CHARITY SUPPORT IN WALES
The Welsh Government has announced a £10,000 business support grant for small charities within the retail, leisure and hospitality sector. The new £26 million package will support an additional 2,600 properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or below. This includes sports premises and community centres. We are awaiting details on eligibility and how to apply for the Fund so, again please monitor the Business Wales website on this.
BOUNCE BACK LOAN
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has been designed to enable businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme supports a business to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of its turnover, with the maximum loan available of £50,000, repaid over a six year period.
The Government will cover the interest payments for the first 12 months of the loan and the applicant can also arrange to pay the balance earlier than the six year term, without incurring a fee charge.
Further details: www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan Also
Clubs with specific queries relating to finance or any other topic should contact the WRU Helpdesk email@example.com
If you haven’t already tuned in, please take this opportunity to hear at length from Wales national performance referee manager Paul Adams on this week’s WRU podcast. So what effect is this lockdown having on referees, some were due to be travelling the world this summer from international series to the Olympics. Paul discusses the effect on current referees and future development. https://www.wru.wales/audio/welsh-rugby-union-podcast-19-2020/
A message of support from HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge:
I am writing to pass on my support and thanks to all of the staff and players at the Welsh Rugby Union.
There is no doubt the last few weeks have been anxious and unsettling, as games and tournaments are cancelled and you each face additional pressures trying to juggle personal and professional lives.
However, I am aware of the wonderful spirit that runs through the Welsh Rugby community, and encourage everyone to continue to take the time to support each other in the way that you have been.
I hope it won’t be too long before you can be back in action but in the meantime, this comes with my very best wishes for good health to you all and your families over the coming weeks.