Rugby clubs 'should be ready to cash in on World Cup legacy'
RUGBY clubs should be ready to cash in on the legacy of the World Cup, the Olympics and Sports Minister has said as Gloucester gears up for the 2015 tournament.
Hugh Robertson said all Gloucestershire’s rugby clubs should be braced for an upsurge in interest in the game – and there is cash available for some.
The tournament will see the city host sides including Scotland, Tonga and Argentina over four matches and Mr Robertson was impressed with plans by Gloucester Rugby and Gloucester City Council to capitalise on the fans’ presence.
But he said the opportunity is also there now for clubs to benefit from how the tournament impresses the local rugby audience.
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“The 2012 Olympics showed what an impact each sport can have on the interest in it,” said Mr Robertson. “After the women’s team won hockey bronze, a club expecting 100 or 200 children coming to the club had 700 – the interest could be huge.
“Sports that have done well from the legacy of the games have been ready for that and it’s important now to make sure everything is in place to achieve that.”
He said the Sport England Inspired Facilities Fund awards grants of up to £50,000 for clubs who need to upgrade their buildings and pitches, and so far, 1,400 grants have been made.
The minister heard of plans for the logistics and organisation for the tournament and building the rugby legacy, before heading to Gloucester’s new athletics track and the city’s rowing club which are capitalising on the London 2012 legacy.
Gloucester Rowing Club gave a presentation on fund raising for the £1.5million boathouse – building should start in January and with £500,000 raised so far and fingers are crossed for a similar sum from Sport England.
“Although rugby is the jewel in Gloucester’s sporting crown and we will be celebrating its legacy, there is a lot more going on which can benefit the city and the county,” said city MP Richard Graham.
“It’s important plans are made now to make the most of that.”
Former Gloucester Rugby captain Adam Balding has been selected to be the city’s co-ordinator for its preparations for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Adam, who ended his playing career last year, was a firm favourite with Gloucester fans and skippered the club for two seasons. He was appointed to the role by the city council.