Three-year blueprint as Scottish Rugby emerges from pandemic

Scottish Rugby has unveiled a strategic approach for the next three years as the sport emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 4:25 pm
John Jeffrey

The organisation has been following a four-step plan in the wake of the Covid lockdown of ‘Review, Reset, Recover and Rebuild’, and the strategy outlines the key areas of focus as it continues its current ‘Recover’ phase towards eventual ‘Rebuild’.Against the backdrop of the pandemic, and with a renewed focus, Scottish Rugby’s Strategy is centred on the themes of ‘Wellbeing, Women and Winning’ and was backed by the Scottish Rugby Board and unanimously endorsed by its Council.Specific work will be implemented over the period of the strategy on growing participation, improving diversity and inclusion, future-proofing the community game, driving revenue growth and building winning teams.The strategy, presented via video webinars by chief executive Mark Dodson, president Ian Barr and chairman John Jeffrey, to over 100 clubs across Scottish Rugby’s five regions, is backed by a commitment to provide “the most comprehensive and sustained investment programme in the Union’s history”.A £6.5 million package for the community game, covering the next five years, was announced in April and includes the distribution of the loan generously allocated by the Scottish Government and an inflation proof increase in annual club funding.Work has already started on creating and delivering funding streams to community clubs in Scotland to enable them to restart rugby activities, improve facilities and plan outreach sessions to bring new and previous players and volunteers back to the game or to welcome them for the first time.The strategy has also identified the importance of wellbeing for everyone involved in rugby for the positive combination of physical and mental-health benefits sport brings, especially through the role clubs play as the focal point of their local communities.The rapid growth in the women and girl’s game will also act as a driver to raise wider participation in the sport within the aims of the strategy, alongside the ambition to develop an improved pathway for female players from the club game through a professional team approach to support the Scotland Women’s team.With an ever-changing landscape in the professional game particular emphasis will be put on enabling Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby to compete in the new format United Rugby Championship, which now includes four leading South African teams.Investment in the Scottish pro teams will be targeted on both improving performances for the benefit of the Scotland men’s team, and to generate additional revenue returns back into Scottish Rugby.Scottish Rugby chairman, former Kelso and Scotland legend John Jeffrey, said: “It is vital we have a clear strategy and set of priorities to move our sport in Scotland forward after a hugely disruptive period due to Covid.“We have sought to strike a balance across the different areas Scottish Rugby has responsibility for and feel this strategy shows how inter-connected all facets of the game are and how we can work collectively on meeting its ambitions.“How we emerge from the pandemic is crucial and I know there is real opportunity here for us to strengthen our grassroots and ensure our teams are winning and our people are developed and supported.”Mark Dodson added: “Like many organisations, the Covid-19 pandemic gave us an opportunity to reflect and reset how we want to move our sport and Scottish Rugby forward. This strategy will give us clear areas of focus and it sets out our intentions and ambitions to progress targeted areas of improvement and change throughout the sport in Scotland.“It goes without saying we want our teams to win every time they take the field, that is non-negotiable. The strategy also sets out a more holistic approach that aims to reflect the world we now operate in and how society views our sport and the huge benefits we can give back to communities across the country.”Ian Barr said: “It is a welcome and positive step to have a clear view of what Scottish Rugby will be focusing on in the coming years through the new strategy. There has been a lot of enthusiasm and progress recently, as we can see rugby coming back to life after the pandemic and clubs beginning to look ahead to the new season.“The role clubs play locally is well documented, so it is timely that the strategy recognises that and has a focus on increasing participation, growing the game through more women and girls, and has significant investment committed to support the club game in the years ahead.”After an 18-month hiatus, competitive community rugby is now scheduled to resume on September 4.