News | 13 Jan 2023

Lions Legacy: local rugby clubs score big with Vodafone

Local rugby clubs from all four nations of the UK are now on firmer footing thanks to fundraising by rugby legends and with donations from Vodafone.

Four grassroots rugby clubs, in communities from each of the UK’s home nations, have received a boost in their fortunes thanks to fundraising efforts by legendary British & Irish Lions players and donations from Vodafone.

Fundraising, new computing equipment and training club volunteers in new skills have all helped put Dungannon RFC, Aberdare RFC, Bannockburn RFC and Westbury RFC on a firmer footing. In community days at all four clubs across 2021 and 2022, funds were raised thanks to activities led by Lions legends, such as Stephen Ferris and Tyrone Howe, as well by the hosts of sporting podcast The Good, The Bad & The Rugby.

All four clubs are benefitting from video analysis cameras donated by Vodafone, helping each club to improve their training, as well as Rugby Hub. This website, available to all community clubs across the UK and Ireland, helps club volunteers upskill themselves in vital areas such as digital marketing and social media. They can then help propel their clubs to greater commercial self-sufficiency.

In Northern Ireland, £12,500 was raised for Dungannon RFC. This enabled the club to renovate its changing rooms, get a new power box on the pitch and buy new equipment including tackle suits for their female players. Vodafone donated a new laptop, while a new payment system for the bar capable of taking member discounts has helped increase the number of dues-paying members.

illustrative photo of children watching a walking rugby game
Children watching the walking rugby game at Westbury RFC.

Cheryl Wilson, Dungannon RFC’s Chairperson for Rugby, said: “The event was huge for us and has had an incredible impact on the club. It has helped to lift our profile which has meant that more women are playing than ever before. The renovations have really made the girls feel that they have their own place in the club.

We were blown away with the support that Vodafone gave us, not just during the event but also after. It has allowed us to come out of Covid with all guns blazing and has given us the freedom to focus on rugby and not worry about finances.”

In Wales, the £10,000 raised for Aberdare RFC has enabled the club to upgrade its clubhouse as well as its health and safety equipment. Vodafone donated a new scoreboard, while footage from the video analysis camera has helped the club to raise its profile on social media.

Darrell Williams, Aberdare RFC Chairman, said: “With the support of Vodafone, we have seen a huge uplift and increase in participation, most significantly with our younger groups. Since the event, we have seen about 40 new players, which has been great for the club. The biggest benefit of the event is that we can now focus on rugby without the financial pressures that grassroots clubs face – it has been amazing.”

How the DMP Sharks were saved: Crowdfunding, community, and a new Vodafone partnership

The funds raised have helped the Sharks cover vital running costs - including travel, accommodation and medical fees - to allow them to compete in the league this season.

In Scotland, Bannockburn RFC has used the £6,000 raised to secure its own pitch, complete with new posts and floodlights. Vodafone donated a projector.

Jimmy Samuel, Director of Rugby, Bannockburn RFC, said: “The support Vodafone has offered us has been amazing. We have been able to improve our facilities at the club, which has drastically improved participation, performance, and play. From a cultural aspect, it has changed our reputation within the community, becoming a more well-known team has had a direct impact on the growth of both the men’s and women’s teams. In fact, we predict the women’s team will soon outgrow the men’s!”

£9,000 was raised for England’s Westbury RFC, which went towards renovating the team’s clubhouse. Vodafone donated a new payment system for the bar, which has helped boost the club’s primary source of income.

Emma Samways, Westbury RFC Director, said: “We have seen an uplift across the club, particularly the men’s teams, but the new resources and equipment have also allowed us to improve the clubhouse and the efficiency of the bar. Vodafone’s social media tool kits have also helped to boost our volunteers’ digital skill sets which will have a huge impact on the club.”

Vodafone is committed to supporting rugby in the UK through current partnerships with the Welsh Rugby Union and DMP Sharks.

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