Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by North Walsham Rugby Football Club


  At the outset my credentials, I am a member of the Management Committee of the above club which is based in Norfolk and plays in National League 2. I am also a Chairman of the London and South East Division of the National Clubs Association (NCA) and a member of its National Executive. The NCA represents 42 clubs that play in the three National Leagues, my particular brief is in the area of National League Sponsorship.


  The club is in its 35th Year which is relatively young in rugby terms and has an excellent record of achievement both on and off the pitch. It provides playing, social and coaching facilities for all ages and both sexes and fields 20 sides from mini under 7's to National League 1st XV. It includes a veterans and ladies side. The club is fully amateur with only one part-time paid official. It owns approximately 26 acres of grounds with full match flood lights. The club has financed its development from loans and grants all of which have been repaid in full. The club has always run on a marginal profit basis, has no bank and/or trade debts apart from current trading.


  The NCA is a highly pro-active body representing the 42 clubs throughout the country which still in the main are traditional rugby clubs. They are virtually all amateur in planning and administration staff and provide a great service to the community and indeed like my own club provide much needed sports facilities and coaching which is no longer available through the education and schools authorities. The clubs survive through their own financial resources supplemented with an annual grant from the RFU made up of sponsorship funds, in this case from Jewsons plc, and revenue from such income providers as the National Cup competition final, internationals and television. There has been instances of clubs attempting to become full/part-time professional, this has had repercussions for those clubs, for without a benefactor the game at this level and indeed above does not generate the income required.


  Rugby at club level does not in my opinion generate the income levels to sustain it as a fully professional sport in comparison with soccer. I believe it could provide that but with much lower player incomes than their contemporaries in soccer if the two codes of rugby were to merge particularly at the very top level, this would consolidate funding from sponsors and the media and I would forecast develop longer term into a major European Competition. I realise my opinions are at variance with many of the establishment of both codes, but as in life and industry they must be prepared to change to meet consumer and player needs.

June 1999

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