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WRU commits £1 million to help restart community rugby

THE Welsh Rugby Union has committed £1m to fund a number of specific, new initiatives that will assist the rugby family in bringing the community game back safely.

Several other on and off-field initiatives to help restart community rugby following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also been announced.

These will assist clubs, Female Hubs, inclusive teams, schools, players and volunteers to move further through the stages of the WRU’s Pathway to Participation.

The WRU has also released the pools for a series of Cup competitions to take place between August and December.

The Championship Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield Pools for the senior men’s game and the North Wales Cup, South Wales Cup and South Wales Plate for the senior women’s game. The 15-a-side competitions will be played under modified Laws to reduce contact around the scrum and maul in particular.

WRU online registration for the 2021/22 season opens for all players, coaches, team managers and first aiders on Monday July 5.

This means that from Monday 5 July, all club age group teams will ‘move up’ to the next age band.

However, teams are encouraged to take time to support players’ transition to the next level of the game, with club matrix rugby beginning on September 1.

Players aged 18 or over on August 31, 2021, will need to register as adult players following the move to put Youth rugby into the U18 bracket for this season to protect the age band from any further disruption due to Covid restrictions.

Female Hub players will need to register for the 2021-22 season from July 5 but they will continue to play within their current age groups until August 31 2021. All players, parents, coaches, team managers and first aiders should log into the WRU Gamelocker from Monday 5 July to register. Clubs should contact their Regional Manager with any online registration issues.

Teams can now play club v club 7 and 10-a-side matches under modified Laws. Online coaching courses are still available and face to face courses return from August, check the WRU Gamelocker for availability and access pathway support here: https://www.wrugamelocker.wales/en/player-pathway/

In line with the latest Welsh Government guidance, spectators can now attend community rugby matches providing they adhere to Welsh Government guidance on all areas especially social distancing and hand hygiene.

In order to breakdown some barriers to participation, especially taking in the economic effects of the pandemic, the WRU has purchased 4000 pairs of rugby boots at a discounted price from official partner Gilbert and will distribute them via clubs and staff on the ground.

The first tranche of the boots will be distributed to the Female Hubs around Wales and to around 60 clubs in areas that feature high in the Welsh Government deprivation index.

Further allocations will be made from early next season with WRU community staff working with clubs, hub officers and other key groups to ascertain need. Boots for Grassroots is part of a wider Inclusion Plan, with further projects will be announced in due course as rugby continues to return to our communities.

The £1m fund will be utilised in a number of ways, including 12 new one-year hub officer posts being created and financial support for clubs.

WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “We know there is a huge amount of enthusiasm to get back to the game we all love. It’s great to be able to move to the next steps of our Pathway to Participation this week with 7 and 10-a-side matches sanctioned between individual clubs, Female Hubs and other teams.

“It is great to see that providing clubs are comfortable that they can comply with Welsh Government guidance, they can start to welcome spectators to their matches in the coming weeks and months, and with the publication of the Pools for the community Cup competitions, senior teams can also now focus on stepping up their gradual return to full rugby.

“As we move towards next season, we have decided to open the WRU online registration process from July 5 in order to give players and coaches additional time to prepare for next seasons safely.

“There are videos and resources on the WRU Gamelocker to support coaches at every level of the game and we will be running additional webinars and online meetings where appropriate.”