The Red Lion 150 development phase revealed many things, including misconceptions about how Rugby at Cambridge, and indeed the Varsity matches, actually work. The most common of these is the widely held belief that the University has helped fund CURUFC to date. The fact is that CURUFC has hitherto always supported itself as a result of receiving significant Varsity Match income, though the University has over the years made changes to help fund several of the major sports, such as cricket, hockey, rowing and athletics, particularly in connection with the facilities provision.
This structure all worked reasonably well until 2008, but the combination of the financial crash, changing city attitudes, the loss of the major sponsorship from Lehman and then Nomura, the continued growth of professional rugby, and of course the competition from four Twickenham Internationals in the month before the traditional Varsity Match fixture date has presented a challenging situation – a perfect storm in fact!
Despite the difficult financial situation and the inevitable reduction of costs resulting from this, CURUFC has:
- Fully integrated Cambridge Women’s Rugby into CURUFC
- Formed a robust rugby development programme and pathway, including the CURUFC Academy which helps to improve the best undergraduates (please go to Playing Overview to see details of this programme)
- Consolidated the Access Committees designed to support applicants to increase the quality of teams
- Supported the running of the Red Lion Bursary Fund distributing the generous donations of a number of Alumni
- Helped establish the Varsity Match Company Ltd to focus on the development of the Varsity Matches at Twickenham
- Started to deliver significant funds through the Club’s relationships and initiatives with local businesses
- Both the Women and Men have won three out of the last four Varsity Matches
The current financial position
The Club had a significant operational financial deficit in each of the four financial years ending June 2017. This deficit was covered by drawing from the club’s reserve fund, and from generous donations at the early stage of the Campaign. The University helped with a one-off grant for the season 2017/18 to cover the operational deficit.
The breathing space afforded by the University Grant has allowed further initiatives to be developed:
- Sponsorship from local businesses has increased throughout 2018/20
- The continued development of the Steele Bodger match and surrounding events
- VCML has worked hard to stabilise the gate and sponsorship for the Varsity Matches
- The 150th Campaign has started successfully
The seasons 18/19 and 19/20 still had operational deficits but these were covered by the club’s reserve fund, which is now nearly depleted.
Unfortunately the year 20/21 has been substantially affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we have received the excellent news that from 20/21 onwards the University have agreed to give a significant recurring grant to CURUFC for the purpose of running and maintaining Grange Road.
We now need to complete the task of reaching the Campaign target.