The International Rugby Board has announced a significant increase in its annual investment in the Game. Investment in the form of Game Development Grants and Tournament Grant funding for full Member Unions and Regional Associations during 2008 will total £13 million, representing a 10 percent increase on 2007 funding.
“The £13 million expenditure in the form of Game Development and Tournament Grants in 2008 is in addition to the £10 million that the IRB will invest in targeted Unions this year as part of the three-year £30 million global strategic investment programme that was launched in 2005/06. That programme has underwritten the delivery of key high performance programmes, which played a significant role in the performance and preparation for the likes of Portugal, Georgia and Namibia ahead of Rugby World Cup 2007,” said IRB Head of Rugby Services, Mark Egan.
“The Rugby World Cup tournament plays a major part in the development of world Rugby as it provides the financial platform for the global growth of the Game. Our annual investment in strategic initiatives, development and tournament grants, all designed to increase the competitiveness of the Game around the world, is underwritten by the financial success of the tournament,” added IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
New banding process
Since the establishment of the strategic investment programme the IRB has redefined the way it classes its Member Unions. In the past they have been categorised in a ‘Tier’ structure but Unions are now categorised within four Union banding categories; High Performance, Performance, Targeted and Developmental.
“This new banding structure better identifies Unions in terms of their development status and record on the international stage. It allows for a more specific development grant investment system based on a Union’s potential to progress through the bands,” said Lapasset.
“Under the new structure, Canada, USA, Romania, Japan and the Pacific Island nations are included within the High Performance band, while Unions such as Georgia, Portugal, Spain, Namibia, Uruguay and Russia will benefit from increased development funding as Performance band Unions. Importantly, the process also allows Targeted Unions such as India, China, Germany, and the IRB’s newest Member Union, Mexico, along with regionally targeted Unions, the opportunity to step up to the Performance band in the future,” added Lapasset.
Inrcreased development grants
Annual Game Development Grants for development programmes and Union infrastructure initiatives for all full Member Unions and the six Regional Associations will increase from £6.3 million in 2007 to £7.2 million in 2008 providing the foundation for global growth both on and off the field of play.
Tournament Grant funding will also increase from £5.5 million to £5.7 million in 2008 to help subsidise the family of IRB and regional development tournaments that will take place during the year. This includes the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship and Junior Rugby World Trophy Tournaments, new cross-border structures and continued support of the record-breaking IRB Sevens World Series. Such Tournaments will ensure that the IRB’s Member Unions have access to an unprecedented number of high level competitions during the year for player, referee and coach development.
“These grants are based upon detailed reviews and recommendations by the IRB’s Rugby Services department in association with IRB Regional Development Managers and the IRB Regional Associations. Investments will be prioritised to cover Senior Men’s, Age Grade, Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens and Women’s fifteens competition programmes,” said Lapasset.
“When including the £3 million that the IRB annually invests via the strategic investment programme, the total investment in tournaments in 2008 will be an unprecedented £8.7 million,” added Lapasset.
Following the significant financial success of Rugby World Cup 2007 and a detailed review of the current investment programme, the IRB will announce the next phase of the strategic investment programme in April.
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