Rugby Australia has welcomed the Australian Government’s $385.4 million sport and physical activity package announced in last night’s Federal Budget.
The funding package will see an extension of Sport Australia’s national Sporting Schools program, meaning Rugby Australia’s highly-successful ‘Get into Rugby’ program will be supported in schools through until the end of 2020.
Schools participation grew a further 8% in 2018 on top of rapid growth since the inception of Sporting Schools in 2015, with more than 69,000 students taking part in Rugby programs across the country last year.
The three main schools’ programs - Get into Rugby, Foxtel Touch 7s and Sevens - were rolled out at 657 schools Australia-wide in 2018. Importantly, 61% of the schools that delivered Rugby programs in 2018 were government schools, allowing Rugby Australia to make vital inroads into the Public School system to build awareness of the game and club participation opportunities.
The programs also aim to achieve gender parity with females making up 46% of all participants in schools last year.
The Government also announced a funding boost of more than $54 million over the next two years to the Australia Institute of Sport (AIS).
The funding will provide for substantially improved development opportunities for aspiring and current elite athletes across the country and will see a boost in direct support grants from the AIS.
The AIS will increase its annual means-tested support grants, known as ‘dAIS’ grants to athletes, including the Qantas Australian Sevens teams, by more than 16% to $14 million per year. The AIS has also pledged funding towards enhanced athlete wellbeing and personal development initiatives.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “We welcome the Government’s sport funding commitment which will provide crucial support for our Sevens athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games and enable us to continue to deliver and further enhance our thriving schools programs.
“The Sporting Schools program has enabled Rugby Australia to tap into a large network of primary and secondary schools to grow awareness of Rugby and spread the message of its values to a new and diverse range of participants outside our traditional heartland.
“Our three main schools’ programs have seen huge growth since inception four years ago and we anticipate a record number of students will take part in 2019. An additional two thousand students signed up in Term 1 2019 compared to the same time last year.
“We also commend the AIS for boosting its dAIS grants program which provides vital support for our Qantas Australian Sevens teams to continue to compete for the highest honours at the Olympic Games and in the annual HSBC World Sevens Series.”