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16th July 2019, 14:56 | therfl
Challenge Cup Final week is always a significant one for Rugby League - and this year, it will have an extra dimension, when the Rugby Football League announces the results of its most important research project yet into the range of social and economic benefits the sport provides to those communities in which it has been established for so long.
The RFL has worked with the Sport Policy Unit of the Business and Law Faculty at Manchester Metropolitan University to produce a report evidencing the various social impacts of the sport, brought together as "The Rugby League Dividend".
The report considers the combined impacts of professional clubs and foundations and community clubs. In addition to measuring their economic impact, it will outline the positive social impacts made, and social capital generated - in areas such as health outcomes, the reduction in crime, improved education and employment outcomes, improved life satisfaction, volunteering, social cohesiveness, identity and aspiration.
The 'Rugby League Dividend' report is the first in a series of 'Independent Impact Reports' on different aspects of the sport's wider contribution to society which the governing body is supporting on behalf of Rugby League.
The reports will be shared with government, policy makers and opinion formers across sport, community cohesion, health, education and justice. The work is championed by the RFL President and CEO.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester who is nearing the end of his year as President of the Rugby Football League, said: “One of the reasons I was so honoured to take a role in Rugby League over the last year was because I have seen at first-hand how important the game and its clubs are, in terms of producing strong young characters, and the contribution they make to their communities.
“I think that this significant contribution can often be overlooked, certainly by those parts of the country where the game is not established, and sometimes even in Rugby League strongholds. So I was delighted to endorse the decision to commission this report during my Presidency, and I’m really looking forward to sharing the full findings with a national audience."
Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the RFL, added: “This will be the first of a series of important external pieces of work on the wider benefits delivered by Rugby League, in particular the wider social impacts of the sport, incorporating the professional and community game.
“Government, statutory and non-statutory funders are increasingly looking to organisations to evidence and evaluate their contribution to society in new ways. This report, and our upcoming Impact Reports, will do that. Our sport has a particularly strong narrative, and increasingly policy makers know that Rugby League is a trusted partner able to make a measurable difference to people in communities who many other sports find harder to reach.
“We see a key part of our role as the sport’s national governing body being to raise awareness of that wider positive contribution to society – and this significant research into the Rugby League Dividend underlines our determination in that regard.”