Jersey Reds Women rely heavily on RFU support to cover their travel costs to the mainland but this has been cut for the upcoming season. The national governing body fund the sport’s activity across the UK but have had no income since December due to Covid-19 and a lack of rugby activity. This has affected their offshore travel fund worth £360,000, which goes towards teams in Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Isle of Wight.
The cuts also affect the Island’s rugby development officer, Joel Dudley, whose funding has been cut by 50%.
‘The RFU provided 50% of the women’s travel costs,’ Cliff Chipperfield explained. ‘We have good sponsors in Rossborough, Carey Olsen and the Ports of Jersey. The women have also found their own individual sponsors. This should give us 50% of what we need, but we now have to find a way to bridge the gap to cover the rest.’
Chipperfield said if they’re unable to bridge the funding gap required, the women’s team could face a reduced season.
He added: ‘The impact should only be a one-season hit and the following year we hope to have the funding back from the RFU.’
The women’s team, under the guidance of new coaches Tom Williams and TJ Harris, have resumed training at a physical distance with strict Covid-19 measures in place.
Chipperfield said they’re optimistically looking at November for a potential return to competitive rugby.
Cuts to funding for development officers follow a number of similar posts being scrapped in recent years. Athletics, badminton, squash and table tennis have all had full-time roles removed.
However, Chipperfield has promised that the schools and rugby education programme will not be affected and Dudley will be able to continue full-time.
‘Grassroots and community level rugby is crucial on Island, especially with the social and community issues regarding Covid-19 and lockdown,’ he said. ‘We have already committed to continuing our schools programme and Joe will remain in his role regardless of the cuts.’
The men’s amateur team, Jersey Athletic, won’t be affected as they’re self-funded and will only be hampered by the Covid situation and a question of when they can resume play.
Reds officials are hoping to meet with the government and Jersey Sport this week to discuss what measures are needed to have a crowd at games. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this month that fans could be allowed to return to mainstream sports stadiums by October.