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RFU and FA discuss Liverpool grassroots facility partnership

By Matthew Campelli    10 Oct 2016
Steve Grainger said the the partnership would increase footfall, and the potential for people to engage with rugby / RFU

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is planning to develop an artificial grass pitch in Liverpool on the site of one of the Football Association’s (FA) prospective Parklife hubs.

Rugby’s governing body is identifying sites across the country as part of its £50m (US$61.8m, €55.4m) artificial pitch rollout, and is eyeing a partnership with the FA as a potential way to improve facilities provision and generate interest in the sport in the north west city.

Steve Grainger, the RFU’s director of rugby development, told Sports Management that the Liverpool hub – which is yet to be built – is “one of the first sites” the body is examining on a “partnership basis”.

Of the 100 pitches the RFU wants to build, 40 will be community hubs which will be part-funded by partners such as other organisations (like the FA) or local authorities. A further 60 will be built for grassroots clubs and fully funded by the governing body.

As part of its Parklife facilities initiative, the FA is investing millions to develop artificial grass pitch city hubs. Two centres have been built in Sheffield, while Liverpool and London are expected to be next.

“There is a significant amount of rugby happening in Liverpool and in the wider Merseyside community,” said Grainger.

“But the attraction for us to build a pitch on a Parklife site is that there will be a big footfall of people coming to play football. If we can get rugby played in an environment where there’s a lot of traditional football people then it begins to change perceptions and hopefully engender some interest,” he added.

Last month, the RFU started to build its first three artificial grass pitches as part of the project in Aylesbury, Preston and Weston-super-Mare.

RFU  FA  grassroots facilities  artificial pitches 
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