The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
RTB Ebbw Vale’s ambitious plans to renovate their 20-year-old clubhouse at Briery Hill, and build new dressing room facilities, received a grant of £2,500 from RBS RugbyForce – and practical support from a team of celebrity DIY helpers.
“I was born in Ebbw Vale so it was good to come home and give a helping hand for such a good cause. My decorating skills aren’t very good, but I was happy to get involved in such a good cause,” said Bennett.
“It was interesting to think that all the work we managed to do on the day in re-decorating the clubhouse and re-upholstering the seats will give the club an immediate boost ahead of this weekend’s RBS 6 Nations match between Ireland and Wales at Croke Park.
“All the players in the Wales squad enjoy and respect the incredible support we receive from the rugby clubs across the length and breadth of Wales. This was our chance to give a little bit back and let the community in and around the RTB club know we appreciate them."
The programme worked on a similar scheme at Pentyrch rugby club last year and RBS RugbyForce ambassador Ieuan Evans was once again impressed at the turnout and effort in Ebbw Vale. All participating clubs in the scheme are being given practical tools and advice on how to plan and organise a volunteer workforce to improve their facilities.
“Our rugby clubs have always been at the heart of our communities in Wales and RTB Ebbw Vale is no exception. They are an important part of the fabric of our national game,” said Evans. “Good facilities are at the centre of all good clubs and I was very impressed with what was on offer at a Division 5 East club. The enthusiasm for the game was obvious and the renovation works carried out should benefit everyone who uses the club.”
RTB (Ebbw Vale) was chosen to receive special assistance by the RBS RugbyForce panel following the impact on the club and local area of the closure of the Corus steel works in 2002. Despite a number of issues including the changing rooms being condemned, RTB (Ebbw Vale) have displayed strong community spirit to keep the club up and running and serving its community as well as its club members.
With the help of the WRU’s Tim Burton, the club has been promised substantial funding from a number of sources including the main funding providers the Welsh Assembly Government, Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust and the Foundation for Sports and the Arts (FSA) which will enable them to refurbish their changing room facilities. They have also secured a 25 year lease from Corus to ensure the long term sustainability of the club’s activities.
RTB was well supported on the day – as well as the rugby stars, there were also representatives from the Welsh Assembly Government (the Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies AM), Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (including the leader Des Hillman), and the Welsh Rugby Union (Head of Operations Tim Burton, Vice Chairman of the Board, Ken Hewitt and Chairman of the Regulatory Committee, Mal Beynon).
Jocelyn Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration said: “I am delighted to be able to support the RBS Rugby Force, which brings people together and encourages people in communities to give their time and effort towards the benefit of their own facilities which is great to see. I am also thrilled to be able to support the Community Development Project at RTB Ebbw Vale, and to have given £45k towards the upgrade of their changing rooms which will improve the long-term sustainability of the club’s core activities.
“In many Welsh communities the rugby club acts as a hub for a variety of community activities, going beyond the core purpose of playing and developing rugby. It’s important to recognise that the positive benefits of sport are not only for the participants – a real sense of social purpose and self-esteem can be gain from involvement in the organization of the on and off pitch activities to the benefit of club and community alike.”
Club secretary Mark Davies is expecting a bumper turnout for this weekend’s vital RBS 6 Nations fixture and was in charge of a group of 70 volunteers on the day.
“We run two senior teams, a Youth side and have up to 100 youngsters out every weekend. We want to give them the best possible facilities and make them proud of their club. The help we’ve received from the RBS RugbyForce will make a big difference to us, although I’m not sure if the new paint work will stand up to the celebrations if Wales win this weekend,” said Davies.
“We have an ambitious plan to re-build our changing room facilities, which is being backed by WAG, the Local Authority and the WRU and that will be the next phase in our rejuvenation.”
Tim Burton, WRU Head of Operations added “RTB (Ebbw Vale) have shown incredible resilience to the problems they have faced and have pulled together to strengthen their club. As a result of this, they have attracted the support of the Welsh Assembly Government and Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust along with others, all of whom have helped support this regeneration project. It’s great that RBS have acknowledged the community sprit and entrepreneurship of the club by adding its weight to the project and with so many people turning out today, I firmly believe that projects similar to this can be of mutual benefit to clubs and communities throughout Wales”
To cap it all, RBS provided 10 tickets to RTB's hard-working project managers to attend the Wales v Italy match on the final weekend of the RBS 6 Nations.
*To watch the full story of Sunday's event, check out the WRU TV video from the day here*