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Our League Active is Rugby League's Membership scheme, helping to shape and develop our game from the ground upwards.

For many years, discussions have taken place about the sustainability and development of the Community Game, with a need to reduce the sport’s reliance on Sport England funding, and move closer to the model seen in other sports. That led to discussions around a membership scheme, and these discussions stepped up in earnest towards the end of 2019, with the RFL and your Community Board working in partnership to develop a model that would work best for Rugby League.

There will also be benefits and rewards, for players, coaches and for clubs – and you’ll see more details of those below.

The plan was to introduce the membership in 2021 but, recognising the uniquely challenging circumstances of this season, it was agreed to postpone the launch date to the 2022 season. 

To date, the RFL has been using the strength of its relationships with Government and Sport England to cover the central costs of the Community Game, but there has been very clear guidance that all sports, quite rightly, must look at ways of becoming more sustainable and membership is a clear and obvious way of continuing this vital journey.


FAQs for Players

Why are we introducing a membership?

For many years, discussions have taken place about the sustainability and development of the Community Game, meaning a membership scheme would be required and these discussions stepped up in earnest towards the end of 2019, with the RFL and your Community Board working in partnership to develop a model that would work best for Rugby League.

 

To date, the RFL has been using the strength of its relationships with Government and Sport England to cover the central costs of servicing and delivering the Community Game, but there has been very clear guidance that all sports, quite rightly, must look at ways of becoming more sustainable and membership is a clear and obvious way of continuing this vital journey.

 

Also, we want to be able to raise our own and additional funds so that we can do all we all want to do to shape and grow the Community Game.  Although key membership is just part of a wider drive to ensure the game becomes more sustainable. We will for example continue to explore other funding, commercial and sponsorship opportunities.

What benefits will I get from taking out membership?

·       Insurance – Personal Accident, Public Liability (including player to player insurance) Death by Natural Causes.

·       Monthly Prize Draw to win exclusives and experiences (Adult and Youth/Junior).

·       Discounted Challenge Cup Final tickets.

·       Discounted England Supporters Club membership.

·       Exclusive merchandise offers.

·       Ability to earn extra Rewards 4 points.

·       Own player dashboard.

·       Youth & Junior players can earn digital badges/certificates.

How much will it cost?

Annual fees will apply to the following participants:

·         Adults - £24.00 (inc. Wheelchair)

·         Youth and Junior (U18) - £18.00

·         Primary (U11) - £12.00

·         Cubs are free.

·         Reduced fee for social variant of the game £15.00 (Masters, Touch, X-League).

·         Reduced fee for development leagues in the South £15.00.

·         No annual fees for other participant e.g., PDRL, LDRL, Armed Forces, Coaches, Match Officials.

Who will need to pay the membership/will the membership fee be collected by my club?

The membership fee will be paid online when players register to play for the 2022 season. 

 

We did discuss the idea of clubs collecting the fee but it was felt that this would be too much of an admin burden for volunteers who are already very dedicated and busy running their own clubs. There has been feedback from some clubs that they would prefer to collect it, so this is also being discussed.

Why are we doing it now?

The plan was to introduce the membership in 2021 but, recognising the uniquely challenging circumstances of this season, it was agreed to postpone the launch date to the 2022 season.  But we cannot delay any more as we have been discussing this for many years and we need to show our partners at Sport England and wider government that we are moving towards being a self-sustaining sport, as they, quite rightly, require all sports to be.

What if people can’t afford this membership?

The RFL will work in partnership with the Community Board and the clubs to make sure that people who genuinely can’t afford this membership will be able to continue to play.

What about families – sometimes people will have three or four people to pay for?

We continue to explore the ability to provide a discount for parents when registering multiple children/players, but we hope that by reducing the youth fee and taking away the need for coaches to pay, this will alleviate some of the concerns here.

Will people be able to try the game without taking membership immediately?

Yes, we will work with our insurance partners to ensure that people can still ‘try before they buy’ for a small number of training sessions before they are then asked to register and take membership.  In practice this already happens as Clubs normally allow players the ability to try for 3 sessions before the need to register.

I pay subs/membership to my Club does some of the money not come to the RFL?

Unlike virtually every other sport none of the money paid by participants finds its way to the Governing Body to support the delivery of the community game. In others sports community clubs or participants pay monies to support their governing body at a national or regional level but this does not happen in rugby league.  All of the costs of supporting the community game in rugby league are currently covered by grant aid and the RFL and this is unsustainable. The RFL will continue to invest in supporting the community game but as a ‘not for profit’ organisation profits and our ability to invest fluctuate and we need certainty and continuity to grow our game.

What does the RFL do for the Community Game?

There are two teams of professionals working full time in the RFL, supporting the Community Game, plus clubs, leagues and players also have access to professionals in the wider RFL to support them in the day to day running of their own businesses, leagues and games.

As an example, during 2020/21 alone, the RFL supported Community clubs to access grants of more than £2m as well as additional government mitigation schemes, without which many of them have said they might not have survived lockdown.

There are myriad regulatory responsibilities that clubs have to demonstrate compliance with, which the RFL supports them with and through, including safeguarding, DBS approval, Risk Assessments and investigations.

There are also various tech platforms and systems set up to make the clubs’ lives easier, such as a Central Operating System for the Game to manage Registrations and Competitions and online learning platforms to make the delivery of some courses less onerous.

There is also support with Match Official recruitment, development and ongoing support, as well as education and CPD for coaches and a wide range of courses for club officials, such as First Aid and Safeguarding.

Clubs are also supported via Annual Club Health Checks, Development Plans, RLWC Ready Plans and Club Accreditation – not to mention the ‘at the end of an email/phone’ support that many clubs use regularly for support in areas of legal advice, communications and media etc, which would cost them in the thousands of pounds if they had to fund privately.

This is literally the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of what the dedicated team at the RFL does to support the Community Game they love we will outline the services and costs more fully over the coming weeks.

What if I don’t want to pay the membership fee?

Players will not be able to register to play for the 2022 season without paying a membership fee. Where people genuinely can’t afford to pay the membership, the RFL will work in partnership with the Community Board and the clubs to make sure that people who genuinely can’t afford this membership will be able to continue to play.

Will the money only support the Community Game or be used for the wider sport?

The money that is raised from the membership fees will be ringfenced and used only for the Community Game. The monies raised will remain will only be used to support the delivery and growth of the community game.

How will the insurance benefit work? What will I be covered for?

For more information on insurance, you can visit the RFL website HERE however there will be insurance in place for Personal Accident (catastrophic injuries) and Public Liability including Player to Player insurance which covers the liability of one player for injury caused to another player during the course of a match or whilst training. It also ensures the liability of coaches and match officials for player injuries arising during playing/training.

 

Note: we are currently in discussion with our insurance partner re providing wider coverage to members at a discount – we will communicate further on this as soon as possible. We know that some players, coaches and clubs currently purchase this and believe that, by procuring this centrally, we could agree a much better price and package.

FAQs for Clubs

Why are we introducing a membership?

For many years, discussions have taken place about the sustainability and development of the Community Game, meaning a membership scheme would be required and these discussions stepped up in earnest towards the end of 2019, with the RFL and your Community Board working in partnership to develop a model that would work best for Rugby League.

 

To date, the RFL has been using the strength of its relationships with Government and Sport England to cover the central costs of servicing and delivering the Community Game, but there has been very clear guidance that all sports, quite rightly, must look at ways of becoming more sustainable and membership is a clear and obvious way of continuing this vital journey.

 

Also, we want to be able to raise our own and additional funds so that we can do all we all want to do to shape and grow the Community Game.  Although key membership is just part of a wider drive to ensure the game becomes more sustainable. We will for example continue to explore other funding, commercial and sponsorship opportunities.

How much will it cost?

Annual fees will apply to the following participants:

·         Adults - £24.00 (inc. Wheelchair)

·         Youth and Junior (U18) - £18.00

·         Primary (U11) - £12.00

·         Cubs are free.

·         Reduced fee for social variant of the game £15.00 (Masters, Touch, X-League).

·         Reduced fee for development leagues in the South £15.00.

·         No annual fees for other participant e.g., PDRL, LDRL, Armed Forces, Coaches, Match Officials.

Who will need to pay the membership/will the membership fee be collected by my club?

The membership fee will be paid online when players register to play for the 2022 season. 

 

We did discuss the idea of clubs collecting the fee but it was felt that this would be too much of an admin burden for volunteers who are already very dedicated and busy running their own clubs. There has been feedback from some clubs that they would prefer to collect it, so this is also being discussed.

Will volunteers be expected to pay the membership?

No but we have had several volunteers saying that they would want to pay the membership so that they can also support the Community Game, so we are making this an option within the registration process.

Why are we doing it now?

The plan was to introduce the membership in 2021 but, recognising the uniquely challenging circumstances of this season, it was agreed to postpone the launch date to the 2022 season.  But we cannot delay any more as we have been discussing this for many years and we need to show our partners at Sport England and wider government that we are moving towards being a self-sustaining sport, as they, quite rightly, require all sports to be.

I keep hearing this will cost the clubs a lot of money! / Will clubs still need to pay for insurance?

No, the cost of the insurance will be covered by the membership, which will support the clubs not only financially (as they currently cover this costs) but also in terms of admin.  Some clubs currently pay up to £1k per year for insurance so this will not only help the Community Game but the clubs also as they will be able to use these savings to keep growing their own clubs also. 

 

Some clubs have told us they may reduce their own membership/subs due to not having to pay the insurance and have also said they may support those players that may struggle financially to pay, but this is entirely up to them.

As clubs don't have to pay for insurance once OurLeague Active starts, how would we prove to our local authority that we have the required insurance in place to hire facilities from them?

The RFL will provide a certificate for the PL for the Club.

Who have you spoken to as part of this process?

The possibility of a membership scheme has been discussed for a long time. It is now something we have to deliver. We have discussed the broader concept and possibilities within the RFL Board, RFL Executive and Community Board over many years, and with Youth and Junior Leagues over the past year. Considerable work has been done in terms of modelling and, over recent months, we have sought the input of players, coaches, clubs, and leagues to help us shape what the offer will look like.

We have also invited people in the community game to complete our survey so we can ensure we put the most appropriate scheme in place and have received more than 500 responses to date, all of which have been read and fed into the team shaping the programme.

What about families – sometimes people will have three or four people to pay for?

We continue to explore the ability to provide a discount for parents when registering multiple children/players, but we hope that by reducing the youth fee and taking away the need for coaches to pay, this will alleviate some of the concerns here.

What if people are put off playing rugby league by this membership? / What if they choose other sports instead?

That is why we need as many people as possible to understand the reason for the introduction of Our League Active. Rugby League has been the exception in sport, in having no direct financial link between participants and the services the National Governing Body provides. This position is simply unsustainable.

But there is a more positive way to position the membership scheme. If you play or coach Rugby League, chances are you love it. Most people would recognise that there are costs involved in sustaining all sport at all levels – membership of Our League Active will mean you’re part of the Rugby League family, and we are working on a range of benefits that will deliver.

We have to have faith and belief in players’ and coaches’ love of our game that paying the equivalent of 50p per week/£2 per month won’t put them off and that they’ll see it as a way of contributing to the sport that they love. We know that many (especially youth) players and coaches also participate in other sports and these other sports also require them to pay higher (and sometimes substantially higher) subs/fees so if they compared sports by cost, once the membership is introduced, they would still choose rugby league. Why should rugby league be the only sport they don’t pay to be part of?

We also know that England Boxing, which also operates in some similarly difficult communities have recently introduced a membership for the first time and none of their worries about losing members came to pass – in fact their participation has grown as a result of having more funding, which is what we are confident will happen with rugby league.

Will people be able to try the game without taking membership immediately?

Yes, we will work with our insurance partners to ensure that people can still ‘try before they buy’ for a small number of training sessions before they are then asked to register and take membership.  In practice this already happens as Clubs normally allow players the ability to try for 3 sessions before the need to register.

What happens if a player or their parent doesn't pay is it simply that they aren’t registered as a player?

That would be correct, however we would hope this wouldn't happen.  We will work with clubs to find ways to help any parent that is struggling to pay.

What does the RFL do for the Community Game?

There are two teams of professionals working full time in the RFL, supporting the Community Game, plus clubs, leagues and players also have access to professionals in the wider RFL to support them in the day to day running of their own businesses, leagues and games.

As an example, during 2020/21 alone, the RFL supported Community clubs to access grants of more than £2m as well as additional government mitigation schemes, without which many of them have said they might not have survived lockdown.

There are myriad regulatory responsibilities that clubs have to demonstrate compliance with, which the RFL supports them with and through, including safeguarding, DBS approval, Risk Assessments and investigations.

There are also various tech platforms and systems set up to make the clubs’ lives easier, such as a Central Operating System for the Game to manage Registrations and Competitions and online learning platforms to make the delivery of some courses less onerous.

There is also support with Match Official recruitment, development and ongoing support, as well as education and CPD for coaches and a wide range of courses for club officials, such as First Aid and Safeguarding.

Clubs are also supported via Annual Club Health Checks, Development Plans, RLWC Ready Plans and Club Accreditation – not to mention the ‘at the end of an email/phone’ support that many clubs use regularly for support in areas of legal advice, communications and media etc, which would cost them in the thousands of pounds if they had to fund privately.

This is literally the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of what the dedicated team at the RFL does to support the Community Game they love we will outline the services and costs more fully over the coming weeks.

Will the money only support the Community Game or be used for the wider sport?

The money that is raised from the membership fees will be ringfenced and used only for the Community Game. The monies raised will remain will only be used to support the delivery and growth of the community game.

Do other Sports have Membership Schemes?

Some Sports do have Membership Schemes for their participants (see Boxing example above). In other sports participants will contribute to supporting their governing body through their team or club making a financial contribution to Leagues or Counties or direct to the NGB itself to support the governing body.  but this does not happen in rugby league.  Costs of supporting the deliver and servicing of the community game in rugby league are currently met by the NGB and this is unsustainable and differentiates us from other sports.

If clubs are struggling financially already how will they benefit from the

Clubs will also benefit from not having to pay the insurance on behalf of players as was previously the case, which could save some clubs thousands of pounds. This is a Participant Membership so the primary beneficiaries will be the players. Through some of the benefits there will also be some additional benefits that flow to clubs as well.

Many similar sports have experience of dealing with hardship - have you engaged with them?

Yes, other sports such as Boxing and Basketball draw many of their participants from disadvantaged communities and already have membership schemes in place. Whilst the introduction of membership wasn’t well received by participants in either sport initially there was not perceived to be any negative effect on participant numbers; indeed, England Boxing has seen increased participation, rather than the assumed reduction. We have spoken to people involved with those and other sports to take learnings.

How will you ensure equity for the players that are paying across the game i.e., OA players may play 20+ games throughout the season, our Girls U18s have played 3 so far this season, will be lucky to have played 6 by the season end!

Consideration will be given and reflected in the price players pay, as we are aware certain leagues will provide more playing opportunities than others.

If parents say they cannot afford the membership, how will it be determined who can and who can't without looking into individual finances? If parents refuse are clubs going to be expected to foot the bill?

We will work with clubs to find a way through this – if you’re interested in being involved in these discussions, do let us know.  

Cannot this be paid per club fee rather than an individual person cost because if the individual has to pay as they register, they may not register at all.

All Clubs are different in terms of membership sizes. Some have multiple teams some run with just one team. It is more equitable to do this via the participant (player).