IRB announces funding programme

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced a 48 million pounds ($93.98 million) investment programme aimed at raising standards of the sport’s developing nations.

The High Performance Investment Programme, announced on Monday, will benefit 22 countries as the IRB continues to try to grow the sport and make its showpiece Rugby World Cup more competitive.

The investment is a 20 percent increase on the funding package for developing nations between 2006-08.

“I am pleased to say the continued success of Rugby World Cup now means we can invest a further 48 million pounds in the game’s continued development,” IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said in a statement.

The 48 million pounds is on top of the IRB’s annual budget for grants, tournament funding and various training programmes meaning a total investment of 153 million pounds ($299.6 million) earmarked for the 2009-2012 period.

Lapasset said the IRB’s commitment to developing unions was already producing results, pointing to the performances of Argentina and Fiji at last year’s Rugby World Cup.

Argentina, surprise semi-finalists at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, are to receive a four million pounds ($7.83 million) funding package once its union has completed a restructuring.

Russia, Namibia and Spain will also be included in the next cycle of handouts.