The RFU today launched its eight year Strategic Plan entitled ‘Putting England First’. The Plan builds on England’s current status as the world’s largest rugby playing nation and details a series of key objectives and investment initiatives to enable England to win 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The RFU promises a huge investment in the game over the next eight years, including £50 million towards a World Class Performance Plan – the most comprehensive high-performance player development programme in the world.

The plan also announces several initiatives to strengthen the Community game including £155 million investment in grass roots. In addition, lottery funding of nearly £1 million is to be injected into local authorities, in conjunction with Sport England.

Francis Baron, Chief Executive of the RFU, commented, ‘We are delighted to be able to announce this substantial plan that aims to stabilize the game at all levels. Recent successes in the Autumn Internationals and Six Nations has placed England near the very top of world class rugby and this strategic plan will ensure this success is built upon for the benefit of all participants.

Commercially, the RFU’s objective is to manage the Union to PLC standards maximising the RFU’s commercial experience. This will provide the investment resource necessary to achieve the overall aspirations for the game.

Francis Baron continues, ‘Commercial success is planned to be achieved by a series of diversification strategies, such as the creation of a Twickenham TV production company, Twickenham travel company and additional High Street retail brands.’

For further information, please contact:

Hill & Knowlton: Tel 0207 413 3000 – Richard Glennie/Alison Scott

RFU Media Office: Tel: 0208 831 6513/6514/6558/6626