15 May 2020 / Club News

WRU Status Update

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 this short 

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.


4. Financial advice

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.

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.

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 Also FAQs

Clubs with specific queries relating to finance or any other topic should contact the WRU

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.

News from Welsh rugby

Wales Women captain Siwan Lillicrap is determined to make the most of the ‘lockdown’ period.
“Our eyes are on the prize,” says the 34-times capped backrow.
“We’re just 15 months out from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand so it’s vital we keep focussed and try to make gains during this time.
“It can be tough training on your own but… it’s important to stay on top of training as well as other commitments such as work and family.”
Like many families, Siwan’s family has been affected by Coronavirus.
“My mother and her partner, an NHS worker, had to completely isolate for two weeks after he fell ill. Luckily he’s made a full recovery but I stepped in to help care for my grandparents.
“It’s been nice seeing them more often when taking up meals and supplies and have a chat through the window or door. I also set them up on Facetime so the whole family can stay in touch.”

Josh Turnbull will be combining his playing duties at Cardiff Blues with coaching the forwards at Welsh Premiership club Carmarthen Quins next season.
The Welsh international back row man is taking over as forwards coach following the decision by Emyr Phillips to step down as head coach after two seasons in charge at Carmarthen Park.
Turnbull is no newcomer to coaching having worked at Welsh Championship club Newcastle Emlyn, where he began his career, last season.
He will join new head coach Craig Evans in the Quins’ coaching line-up for the 2020-21 campaign.

Pontypridd stalwarts Dafydd Lockyer and Chris Dicomidis will continue to add their wealth of experience to the Sardis Road squad next season after signing on for another 12 months of action in the Indigo Group Premiership.
Between them the two former Wales U21 caps have played 739 games for Ponty between them over the past 16 seasons.
Lockyer will be 35 next month, while Cypriot international Dicomidis will reach the same landmark in September.


Staying with Ponty, the club have been working hard behind the scenes at the ‘house of pain’ to launch a new kit in readiness and hope for the 2020/21 campaign – and they have possibly captured the mood of the nation.
In light of the superb work being carried out by our Welsh NHS services, the club has produced a limited-edition kit in tribute to the NHS which will be used for the entire season.
The new jersey is an iconic Pontypridd RFC design which is instantly recognised throughout the rugby community from the club’s epic Welsh Cup victory over Neath in 1996, but the kit has a distinct NHS rainbow theme to reflect support for all front-line health workers.
Following the kit launch there will be ongoing support for the Health Service as the club has chosen the Welsh NHS and specifically Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, as its charity for the 2020/21 season.
Find out more and see the kit for yourself 

Former RGC back row man Sean Lonsdale pledged his long-term future to Gallagher Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs this week and the 22-year-old Welsh qualified player is part of a squad that already boasts Welsh internationals in Tomas Francis and Alex Cuthbert, as well as former Dragons full back Phil Dollman.
Lonsdale has made 31 appearances for the Chiefs since joining from the north Wales side in 2018, but the Manchester-born forward is one of a number of players who have graduated from RGC and earned professional contracts.
James Lang left Colwyn Bay to join Harlequins and went on to play for Scotland, while another outside half, Jacob Botica, is currently at the Dragons.
Ospreys back row stalwart Olly Cracknell also cut his teeth at RGC, as did Wales U20 prop Sam Wainwright, who joined European champions Saracens this season.

Read more

The future looks bright for 19-year-old Manon Johnes from Cardiff, but she’s already achieved plenty for someone so young.
Not only did she win her first cap at 17 in the victory against South Africa in late 2018, but she now has an undergraduate degree in Geography at Oxford University to look forward to.
International recognition as a teenager and enrolment at the most prestigious university in the world were meant to be bookends to a gap year spent travelling, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
“The travelling won’t be happening any more due to the lockdown, but I’m keeping myself busy,” says the prodigious openside.
And that she has, working as an assistant teacher at Ysgol Gwaelod y Garth on the outskirts of the city. Keeping the children of key workers entertained has been fun, she says.
It all started for here as the only girl on the team at CRICC, the junior section of Cardiff Quins, whom she would also go on to represent.

Read more here:

Fundraising continues…

Senior players at Pentyrch RFC were due to fly to Toronto on 27 May for their rugby tour.
As this has been cancelled, due to the pandemic, they decided to encourage all age groups in the club to cycle the distance between Pentyrch and Toronto (3,428 miles) in aid of one of the clubs favourite charities, the Tom Maynard Trust.
The cycle ride was to be finished within a week and this was achieved, with £1791.00 raised so far.
A distance of 4,264 miles was covered, 836 miles more than required, which is a quarter of the return journey. Thoughts are now focused on possibly finishing the trip home.  Not to be outdone, club resident, Huw Llywelyn Davies, also took part in the 2.6 challenge when he cycled just over 26 miles to raise funds for Velindre Hospital. At present he has received donations totaling £3,786.

It is the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff who benefit during these difficult times from the activities of the West Wales Rugby Union, who have donated a £1,000 to this great cause.
Life member of the WWRU and District F secretary Dennis Jones has also informed us of a further donation of £500 from the District to the Intensive Care Units of Prince Phillip Hospital Llanelli, Glangwili Hospital Carmarthen and Morriston Hospital Swansea, further evidence of what our rugby community continues to do to try to help our fantastic NHS.

Best of luck to the players and ex-players of Kidwelly rugby club who are undertaking a ten marathon challenge starting this Saturday 16th May.
Money is being raised for Hywel Dda NHS Trust as 260 miles are to be clocked up around the rugby pitches at Kidwelly, with social distancing during the challenge obviously top of the agenda.

A story first brought to you by the WRU Status Update, in the 29/04/20 issue, has really captured the imagination of the national media, achieving pervasive coverage and even featuring on Good Morning Britain a few days ago.
Brecon rugby club has really ‘raised the baa!’, securing over £8,500 for NHS Wales and has now set a new target of £10,000 whilst they invite sponsors to ‘name the ewe’ – choosing from a flock of sheep now living at Parc de Pugh.
Everyone’s favourite friend of the community game, Phil Steele, has taken the story full circle with cameras visiting Brecon to round things up, see the video – with a cameo appearance from Andy Powell – 
And its not too late to fill in a sponsorship form here

Finally, please find below a message of support from HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge which arrived this week: 

‘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.’

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