Sir Bill Beaumont believes The National Lottery’s vital support for grassroots rugby is continuing to help inspire the next generation as the thrilling World Cup enters its final stages.
Funding from The National Lottery has been injected into all levels of the sport, with over 1,000 rugby clubs having been supported across the last three decades.
From upgrading facilities to supporting the development of women’s and girl’s rugby teams, and even contributing to building the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, The National Lottery has been integral in supporting the sport.
World Rugby chairman Beaumont has seen this first hand, with his beloved Fylde RFC – the club he spent his entire senior playing career at – the earliest ever recipient of rugby union-related funding when it was handed £137,500 back in 1995.
Countless positive impacts on rugby clubs and their local communities have rippled across the UK thanks to National Lottery players who raise £30 million per week for good causes.
And Beaumont, speaking exclusively on The National Lottery, said: “What we need to do is continue with the help of people like the National Lottery, and the Unions ‘(national governing bodies) funding to keep funding the grassroots game.
“That will encourage more people to go down to rugby clubs. Rugby clubs are a great source of enjoyment and fun. It’s a great game for bringing people together.
“I was at Fylde at the time – we’ve got a fantastic clubhouse now, but we’ve still got the changing rooms and the gym that was established with the [National] Lottery funding.
“I can remember it being done. It’s amazing how long ago it is because I’ve had three sons that have all played at the club over the years. Many, many years.”
Spending his entire senior playing career with Fylde, the former England, British & Irish Lions and Lancashire captain still lives less than a mile from the Woodlands Memorial Ground in Lytham St. Annes.
That connection to the club continues, with Beaumont regularly watching the side in National 2 North, while his son, Josh, has combined playing in the Gallagher Premiership with helping the club’s commercial interests.
To this day the changing facilities and gym established by funds from The National Lottery are still used on a daily basis, with many other clubs across the United Kingdom having benefited from funding too.
To date nearly 5,000 more grants have helped to boost rugby union since Fylde received theirs in the mid-1990s.
As chairman of World Rugby, Beaumont has been in France for Rugby World Cup 2023.
It is a special year for the sport, with this tournament in France due to be the best-attended Rugby World Cup to date and it also marking the 200th anniversary of William Webb Ellis picking up the ball during a muddy game of football at Rugby School and beginning a worldwide phenomenon.
That’s a world away from Fylde and the familiarity of home, as the world’s best now battle it out to lift the Webb Ellis Cup at the end of October.
And Beaumont, a former A Question of Sport team captain, still has an eye on the great impact that investment into the grassroots game can have.
“You don’t have elite rugby if you don’t have grassroots rugby,” Beaumont said. “Quite simple.
“Where does every single player start off? At grassroots rugby or a school. Grassroots rugby is essential for girls and boys, men and women. That is our rugby DNA.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen
Image: Image: The National Lottery/Julian Finney – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)