SRU chief executive Mark Dodson has warned of tougher times ahead for Scottish rugby once Sevens is introduced into the Olympics in 2016.
A consequence of Rio’s Games featuring rugby will be to provide extra funding for emerging nations such as Russia, Georgia, China, and USA with a likely knock-on effect into the 15-a-side code. Referring to the danger of a traditional power being squeezed Dodson tells the latest edition of Running Rugby magazine: “No matter how well we do, and we are all improving, we have to work twice as hard modernizing things. We must keep improving or we will be overtaken.”
Key to development, he says, is increasing Scottish playing numbers. “We want to increase our participation from 43,000 to 63,000 and I believe that is achievable. It’s so important as we have a small player pool.…It’s about the local clubs coming together with the Pro teams, –the whole nation uniting and using every possible factor.
“My job is makes the Pro teams as successful on and off the field, and we are eager to grow the fan base in the central belt. In the Borders we are looking at strengthening the connection the Premiership clubs have with the Pro teams so that players developed can be linked directly with Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
However, at the recent SRU annual meeting, members heard that while £19 million was lavished on the international and professional game, traditional clubs received just £4.94m. But, claiming that Scottish rugby will benefit from a cascade effect, Dodson adds: “I’m very excited.
“We had a poor Six Nations but the performances of Glasgow and Edinburgh, with their remarkable run to the semi-finals defeating Toulouse on the way, were a great boost. We have devoted greater money and resources to the Pro teams which is redefining how they are perceived.”