RFL issue response to Sport England funding changes

The RFL has welcomed the news that Rugby League will continue to receive the agreed levels of central Government funding for projects designed to increase participation across the sport.

Sport England today announced plans to work with the RFL to create a new mechanism by which funding will be made available for community projects which use local club facilities and staff to tempt new players into Rugby League.

Under the changes, 10 per cent of the central funding to make Rugby League more accessible will be channelled via the sport’s charitable foundations to encourage grassroots participation.

The move follows dialogue between the RFL and Sport England into the challenges faced in meeting the sport’s Active People target for participation, at which details of the newly-launched Sky Try programme were presented to the Government agency.

RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “The Sky Try initiative will involve club charitable foundations delivering important development work and providing new opportunities for people in their local communities to play Rugby League.

“During our meetings with Sport England we promoted the Sky Try model as an effective method of increasing participation and today’s news is recognition that this is the best way to achieve maximum impact.

“We will now sit down with Sport England to determine the mechanism by which our various foundations can access the funding that will enable them to build on the trend of increased participation that we have seen since 2011.”

Whilst Rugby League did not meet its participation targets in the last Active People Survey, the RFL’s own data shows that the sport now has more registered players than ever before.

The RFL has rolled out an exciting series of offers to existing and prospective players in all age groups for 2015 and expects to continue the increase in the number of registered players recorded in each of the last three years.

Offers such as Play Touch Rugby League, Tag Rugby League and Masters Rugby League are taking the sport to new audiences across the country whilst the ground-breaking Sky Try initiative will reach over 700,000 people over the course of the next seven years.

Rimmer added: “As disappointing as the Active People Survey figures are, it is encouraging that Sport England have listened to us and are now looking at utilising the expertise and local knowledge of our club foundations.

“The long term trend on the Active People measure for Rugby League is that the sport is growing in a similar way to the majority of other team sports.

“Our own data based on actual participants shows year on year we are growing but not at the rate we would like.

“We are facing the same challenges that other organised team sports face when it comes to meeting Active People targets but the challenge is one we are determined to meet.

“In the meantime we remain committed to listening to current, former and prospective players to determine how best to get more of them playing Rugby League more frequently via the Let’s Talk Rugby League project.”