Business Operating Model





Dec 14

  Circulation post assumption of revised Exec roles


31 Jan 15

  Hyperlinks included


19 Feb 15

  Alignment of Articles and Byelaws to allow deletion of current Constitution



1. The RNRU was founded in 1906 to administer the playing of rugby union in the Royal Navy. Head office is currently in HMS TEMERAIRE alongside the Burnaby Road playing facilities in Portsmouth; home fixtures are also routinely played at the Rectory in Plymouth.

1.1 The RNRU is both a Constituent Body (CB) of the Rugby Football Union and a registered charity both of which have a bearing on the governance structures and day to day management of the club.

1.2 All RN/RM units, ships and establishments that participate in rugby are de-facto ‘Member Clubs’ of the RNRU. The RNRU also has 2 Voting Member clubs1 of the RFU: United Services Portsmouth and Devonport Services, plus 54 Non-Voting Member clubs from ships, establishments, Units and Commands across the Navy who regularly play rugby. The RN fields five representative teams: Senior XV, U23, Women, Veterans (colloquially known as the Ancient Mariners) and Sevens (the Sharks); occasionally a President’s XV is selected to play in specific tournaments or invitational matches times2. The culmination of the season is the Inter-Services championship including the prestigious Army vs. Navy fixture held at Twickenham. Although the first of these matches took place in 1878, the fixture became annual and part of the Inter-Service (IS) Competition in 1907; this was expanded to include the Royal Air Force in 1920. The Navy has won the Inter-Services Championship 19 times3. 


2. The strategy of the RNRU is founded in the recognition and identification of our many and varied stakeholders including (but not limited to): The Naval Service, The Charity Commission; Member Clubs; The Rugby Football Union; and, Sponsors. Our mission statement (vision) is:

To be fun, relevant, successful and sustainable, inspiring players, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators to enjoy rugby at all levels from mess deck to international, wherever the RN goes, reflecting all that is best in the Service.

2.1 The RNRU Strategy identifies a series of goals, which map across to the RFU 4 Year Plan, based on the RFU 6 Key Drivers4 for club development. These goals are reviewed annually and specific targets, objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are identified as part of an Annual Delivery Plan to be achieved in the forthcoming 12 months. To allow accurate forecasting of objectives and KPIs the RNRU has undertaken an audit and baseline assessment/database5 of ship/establishment facilities and management structures, players (past and present), (active) coaches, referees and volunteers.

2.2 The RNRU Goals are:

A. Ignite and sustain curiosity, desire and passion for rugby.
B. Provide a balanced season to ensure the development of players at all levels of participation.
C. Achieve a creditable winning record in the Inter-Services.
D. Provide appropriate structures and opportunity to support and develop coaches, officials and volunteers.
E. Ensure the appropriate off field management and governance structures are in place to allow the club to operate effectively.
F. Ensure coherence with the RFU strategy and maintain our status as a Constituent Body of the RFU.
G. Encourage and support investment in facilities and resources to deliver enjoyable rugby for all.
H. A financial strategy that ensures a regular income stream.
I. A communication strategy that promotes the brand (image and profile) and relevance of the RNRU to multiple target audiences.
J. A strong reputation founded on individuals’ and teams’ core values.

2.3 The RNRU strategy has been developed mindful of the risks identified in the RNRU Risk Register and the need to gradually shift the emphasis away from a focus on representative rugby (whilst seeking to maintain our hard earned reputation for success) to greater investment in promoting participation and enjoyment of rugby across the Naval Service. Whilst continuing to be competitive at Twickenham is on the critical path, not least in terms of income, sponsorship, profile and player/coach incentive, there is a pressing need to grow grass roots and community rugby as this will provide the foundation upon which we can grow our representative sides and is a central pillar of our responsibilities as a charitable trust and CB of the RFU. The RNRU Risk Register will remain an iterative document.


3. The current RNRU Charity is called the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charitable Trust, however, this does not communicate what the Royal Navy Rugby Union’s objectives as a charity are, nor does it currently comply with regulations as laid down by the Charity Commission. Whilst not in breach, the RNRU had to refresh its objectives and constitution to bring it in to line with modern legislation and establish a new board of Trustees to maintain strict Governance going forward. 

3.1 The RNRU is currently an unincorporated charitable trust. In consultation with the RNRMC and Charles Russell LLP (current advisors to the RNRMC) the RNRU is in the process of forming a new Charitable Company, limited by guarantee, to take over the assets, liabilities and undertakings of the RNRU. The recently endorsed Articles of Association, which will act as the Constitution of the new Company, reflect the current Charity Commission legislation but also meet the Charitable Objectives of the RNRU, which are:

  • Promoting the physical efficiency of members of the Naval Service by providing facilities and other encouragement for all ranks thereof to participate in the game of rugby football,
  • Making grants for charitable purposes that benefit either directly or indirectly members both past and present of the Naval Service, and
  • Promoting amateur sport for the benefit of the public in particular by encouraging the participation of young people in the game of rugby football.

3.2 The RNRU Charity does not currently deliver benevolence nor does it intend to within its strategy, however, this will be re-visited once incorporation under the RNRMC as the ‘umbrella’ charity and more specifically the “docking” of the RNRU under the Naval Service Sports Charity (NSSC) has been completed.

3.3 The Articles define the responsibilities and powers of the Trustees, both as Directors and Members of the Company.

3.4 The Articles also provide a framework within which this Business Operating Model is nested. Policy guidelines, Rules and Regulations that hitherto were contained within the RNRU Constitution and Bye-Laws are now contained within this Business Operating Model.



4. The RNRU, as well as being part of the Royal Navy, is both a Constituent Body (CB) of the Rugby Football Union and a registered charity. It is therefore charged with the management, administration and development of the game of rugby union within the Royal Navy, in accordance with service regulations and traditions, as well as compliance with the requirements of the RFU and the regulatory framework for charities. 

4.1 The RNRU is responsible to the RFU for the proper compliance by all RN Clubs with any laws and regulations made from time to time by the RFU. Any powers delegated by the RFU to Constituent Bodies are exercised on behalf of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines by the RNRU.

4.2 All clubs administered by the RNRU are bound by the Rules and Regulations of the RFU, the Laws of the Game and the IRB Regulations relating to the Game and that any breach thereof shall be a breach of the Rules of the RNRU and shall be dealt with under the powers contained in its rules in accordance with powers which have been delegated to it by the RFU.

4.3 The RNRU is also responsible to CNPD for the proper application of the Service regulations relating to the administration of sport as they affect rugby union within the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

4.4 The RNRU Management Structure has recently being reconfigured and is now better able to deliver the RNRU strategy and provide a broader effort on behalf of our multifarious stakeholders. In essence there are two bodies: a Board of Trustees and an Executive Committee.

4.5 The RNRU Board of Trustees shall comprise of 8 trustees, including a Chair of Trustees. The Chair of Trustees and four of the other trustees to be independent (ie independent of the Naval Service - non-serving personnel); the final three trustees to be ex officio members of the Executive Committee (and therefore, most likely, serving personnel), namely the Chairman of the Executive Committee, the Vice Chairman and the RFU Council Member.All nominations for trustees (with the exception of those ex officio members of the Executive Committee) are to be agreed (majority vote) by the Board of Trustees. Neither the President nor the Secretary will be ‘members’ of the Board of Trustees but will be present at all Trustees meetings. The President is de-facto the Chief Executive of the ‘Company’ and as such is responsible for the efficient and legislatively compliant delivery of the RNRU outputs. Whilst meeting the Charitable Objectives of the Company is the responsibility of the Chairman of Trustees, the people and actual delivery of the Charity outputs through the RNRU Executive Committee is the responsibility of the President, with the responsibility for the day to day management delegated to the Chairman RNRU. The Secretary RNRU acts as secretary to the Trustees meetings and is in effect the Director of Operations of the Company, being responsible for all personnel management and administration for the Executive Committee and the Union itself. The Board will meet at least twice per year, plus whenever required, in order to maintain strategic direction for, and oversight of, the charity's business as managed by the Executive Committee. The board of trustees will compile a report annually for the AGM. Day to day management of the RNRU is delegated to the Executive Committee

4.6 The Executive Committee, comprising 8-10 members, is responsible to the Board of Trustees for, and charged with, the day to day running of the RNRU. With the exception of the Secretary, who will be a staff officer serving on the staff of CNPD, all members of the Executive Committee will normally be serving on the Active List of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. The Executive Committee comprises of the following voting members:

Chairman, Vice Chairman, RFU Council Member, Director of Rugby, Director of Marketing, Director of Communications, Director of Operations, Director of Community Rugby. (Individuals may hold more than one of these posts at a time, up to a maximum of two posts per individual, and provided that the number of Executive Committee members does not reduce below five.)

The Executive Committee may co-opt other members as and when required. Co-opted members of the Executive Committee shall be non-voting members of the Executive. Currently there are two non-voting members: the Treasurer and Volunteer Manager. All Executive Committee appointments will need to be ratified annually at the next Annual General Meeting. A succession plan for key personnel is managed by the Secretary to ensure a smooth transition of appointments. Terms of Reference detailing powers of authority and responsibilities for all members of the Executive committee have been updated. The Executive Committee shall meet formally at least 6 times per year. A quorum for a meeting is the Chairman or Vice Chairman plus three other voting members. The meeting agenda will be promulgated two weeks before any meeting. Members who are unable to attend are to nominate a representative from their sub committees to attend, empowered with the authority to vote on their behalf.

4.7 The Executive Committee may authorise the formation of Sub Committees as required. Expenses may be claimed from public funds, chargeable to local budgets, by members attending Executive Committee meetings and Sub Committee meetings.

4.8 A copy of the minutes from the most recent Trustees Meeting and reports submitted to the most recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) are available at the links.

5. RNRU Employees. In addition the RNRU employs and pays for four permanent staff: an Assistant Secretary who manages the Rugby Office at HMS TEMERAIRE, a Rugby Development Officer (RDO), part funded by the RFU, and two Community Rugby Coaches (CRCs), who are focussed primarily on grass roots rugby development in accordance with the RNRU strategy. All vacancies within the RNRU are advertised widely, inviting volunteers, both serving and civilian, to be considered for selection. Executive appointments and bye-law changes are agreed at the RNRU Club AGM, where all member clubs are entitled to vote. A copy of the Human Resources Handbook for all employees is available at this link. 

6 Insurance. The RFU provides Personal Accident Insurance for players, coaches and match officials of all Voting and Non-Voting clubs. To view the full policy wordings please visit the link below:

7 Discipline. The RFU has delegated powers to the RNRU to hold enquiries and award punishment, or take other such action as is appropriate with respect to disciplinary incidents relating to RNRU clubs and members. The RNRU Disciplinary sub-committee, under a Chairman who is the RNRU Disciplinary Officer, exercises this authority. The Secretary acts as the Disciplinary Secretary and, together, they are responsible for providing advice to RNRU clubs and members on disciplinary policy and casework. The Disciplinary Sub Committee will act in accordance with the Instructions for the guidance and assistance of Disciplinary Committees on the Procedure and Conduct of Disciplinary Hearings as laid down in the RFU Handbook. Every club of the RNRU shall appoint a Disciplinary Committee charged with the responsibility of maintaining high standards of discipline within the club. Club Disciplinary Committees are to take action within 48 hours of any player being sent off or cited, and are to report such action to the Secretary RNRU.

8. Membership. Membership of the RNRU is open to clubs playing rugby in any ship, establishment, unit or Command, regardless of the frequency, or the format, of participation in the sport. It is this level of participation that provides the opportunity for all sailors and marines, whatever their standard of play, to participate in, and enjoy, rugby wherever they are deployed or stationed in the world. A detailed list of ships and establishments s is contained within the baseline assessment document.There is no subscription for membership of the RNRU, and the RNRU shall pay any annual subscription required by the RFU for affiliation on behalf of its clubs in membership.

8.1 Voting Member Clubs of the RFU. United Services (USPRFC) and Devonport Services (DSRFC) meet the RFU’s criteria for voting membership of the RFU6 in a way that most other RNRU clubs will not: based primarily on the frequency with which the club is able to field a senior adult XV against another voting member club. As such, these clubs are critical to the health of Navy Rugby, in that they provide a geographical focus for rugby players in the Naval Service who are able to participate regularly in weekend rugby. The ability of USPRFC and DSRFC to embrace sailors and marines into a club, often on an irregular basis, and to provide an appropriate level of rugby for them, is fundamental to the role and mission of the RNRU. Further information on our 2 Voting Member Clubs is at Annex A.

9. Patrons. The Patrons Membership Scheme is open to all with a love of Navy Rugby and aims to raise money for the Union whilst offering valuable cash prizes. The cost is £5 per month for a chance to share a prize fund of approximately £3000 per annum. Prizes are drawn biannually, in Jun and Dec, and are as follows: Special Prize (decided by RNRU)7, Cash prize of £500, 2 cash prizes of £250 and 6 cash prizes of £50 each. Prize money is reviewed annually in Jun and its value will depend on the estimated annual income. Other advantages of becoming a RNRU Patron are:

  • Notification via website Patrons tab, and ballots for an allocation of tickets for fixtures at Twickenham.
  • Unique Patrons tie.
  • Ability to apply for 2 Seasons tickets for the following clubs home matches: Bath RFC, Harlequins RFC, Saracens RFC, London Irish RFC, Exeter RFC and Plymouth Albion RFC.

9.1 The RNRU reserves the right to apply a limit on membership numbers.

10. Vice Presidents. Vice Presidents are appointed by the President. They undertake a number of officials’ tasks on behalf of the RNRU Union ranging from attending the Army Navy match at Twickenham through the myriad of RNRU activity including the important role of hosting our sponsors at home fixtures, dinners and, on occasions, international fixtures at Twickenham. At the Presidents discretion, Vice Presidents may also be invited to oversee specific representative team events and special projects, such as the Rugby World Cup Legacy project. A list of current Vice Presidents is at this link.

11. Life Membership of the RNRU. The Executive Committee of the RNRU may, at their discretion, and as a mark of esteem for service rendered to Naval Rugby Football, elect Life Members of the RNRU. Life Members will be afforded the following privileges8:

  • Two complimentary stand tickets at Inter Service matches;
  • Application through the RNRU for tickets for international matches at Twickenham;
  • Invitations to dinners and social functions at the discretion of the Executive Committee.

11.1 The Executive Committee may consider nominations for Life membership at any properly constituted meeting, subject to the following conditions:

  • There is a quorum in accordance with extant RNRU Constitution and Bye Laws;
  • Written nominations have been circulated to all members of the Executive Committee not less than 5 working days before the meeting.

11.2 Life Members will not normally be elected until they are about to retire from active service in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines There is no limit to the number of Life Members that may be elected at any one time, or in any one year, but numbers of Life Members will not normally exceed 50. A list of current Life Members is available at the link.

11.3 Only members of the Executive Committee may nominate individuals for election as Life Members9. Written nominations are to provide evidence of an individual’s exemplary and extraordinary service to Naval Rugby Football. Nominations are normally to be made within the first twelve months after an individual has retired from active service. If a nominee is not elected, they are time-barred from election for five years, at any point after which they may be nominated one final time. If a nominee is not elected a second time, they are excluded in perpetuity from election. Individuals who have not been nominated within the first twelve months of their retirement from active service may, exceptionally, be nominated for Life Membership of the RNRU. However, the nomination should include explicit justification for extraordinary consideration of the individual concerned outside of the normal timeline. Such individuals will not be entitled to a second nomination after a further five years if they are not elected at the first occasion. The Secretary to the RNRU is responsible for the maintenance of records for Life Membership. These records are to include:

  • Correspondence details for all living Life Members;
  • Copies of all nominations for Life Membership, and the dates on which they were considered for election;
  • The names of all unsuccessful nominations, the reasoning of the Executive Committee for their non-election, and details of the time-bar that applies to that individual.

12. General Meetings.

An Annual General Meeting (AGM) shall be held each year, A minimum notice of twelve weeks will be given for the date of an AGM. Clubs may send as many representatives as they wish to an AGM but each club shall only be entitled to one vote on any issue. A quorum for an AGM is fifteen clubs, and at least four members of the Executive Committee. The President shall normally chair the AGM but may delegate this function to the Chairman.

12.1 The AGM shall:

  • Appoint a President for the following season and ratify the recommendations for appointments to the Executive Committee;
  • Receive reports from the members of the Executive Committee relating to the previous season;
  • Endorse the financial strategy for the current season;
  • Debate and vote on any motions relating to the administration of the RNRU, including changes to Bye-Laws or policy guidelines within the Business Operating Model

12.2 Motions proposing changes to the Bye Laws or Policy Guidelines shall be forwarded to the Secretary of the RNRU by no later than 8 weeks before the date of the AGM. Such proposals must have the support of two clubs and will be passed at the AGM provided that there is a two-thirds majority in favour.

12.3. Special General Meetings (SGM) may be called at any time to discuss the business of the RNRU provided a written request is made to the Secretary RNRU containing the signatures of at least 15 clubs, or as specified above following an AGM. The Secretary is to convene an SGM not earlier than 8 weeks and not later than 12 weeks from the date of receipt of a written request or vote at an AGM. 


13. The RNRU utilise MOD facilities for all training and matches. All MOD estates and landscapes are managed through the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). The DIO is an operating arm of the MOD and had responsibility for the built and rural estate and is responsible for the day-to-day estates activity through a wide range of maintenance, construction and sustainability issues. The RNRU work closely with the DIO to influence where money is spent to ensure a high standard of facilities is available throughout the season (day and night). A detailed list of current facilities, by region is contained in the 4 Year Headline Plan under Key Driver 4 - Effective and Efficient Facilities. Recent builds which the RNRU will benefit significantly from include: fitted 3G all weather playing surfaces at Burnaby Road, Portsmouth and Keyham playing fields in Plymouth; and the installation of floodlights at HMS Sultan in Portsmouth. The weakest area in terms of facility development is HM Naval Base Clyde, Scotland, who currently have to share facilities with Helensburgh RFC. The highest priority for facility development is the Rectory (Devonport Services) in Plymouth; plans are being drawn up to redevelop this site, to include modernising the current stands, new changing rooms and clubhouse and improved parking facilities. This will enable representative and Combined Services matches to be played at this venue and although this project is unsupported by public funding, it is suitable for LIBOR investment as it focuses on the sport, family and wider recreational improvement opportunities. There remains an aspiration to install floodlights at CTCRM, Lympstone Devon and HMS Heron; these are both subject to the appropriate finance being found and contractual issues.


14. The Secretary is responsible for all financial matters with the RNRU. Effective financial planning is ensured through a rigorous annual budgetary process, investment and maintenance of an annual reserve10. A regular income stream is achieved through Army/Navy annual fixture at Twickenham, sponsorship and the sale of RNRU merchandise.

14.1 A separate set of Financial Regulations exists and provides the framework for managing the Union’s financial affairs. They detail the financial responsibilities, policies and procedures adopted by the Union and apply to every member of the Union and anyone acting on its behalf. They are designed to ensure that the Union’s financial transactions are carried out in accordance with the law and with the requirements of the Charity Commission in order to achieve probity, accuracy, economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

15. Budgetary Process. In acknowledging that Executive Committee members (otherwise known as Budget Holders) are volunteers, the Budget Screening Process has been designed to ensure that it is not overly cumbersome and bureaucratic but at the same time transparent and robust. Annually in mid-May, the secretary will distribute a generic screening pack for Budget Holders that will include the agreed activities that funds may be bid for, guidance for completion and key deadlines. Budget Holders are required to submit their bids by mid-Jun, but also to present their bids to the Trustees. The screening process will take place during the annual Jul Trustees meeting. The RNRU financial year runs from 1 Sep to 31 Aug annually.

15.1 The process must enable:

  • The Trustees to screen Budget Holders on their bids. Formal screening may not be necessary for a few discrete areas11 where expenditure is relatively minor: however, submissions for these areas will be pre-screened by the secretary who will submit on their behalf;
  • Budget Holders are to explain their submission and where necessary to justify any novel or contentious expenditure;
  • The Trustees are to undertake the screening process with a clear understanding of the projected income and expenditure profile.

15.2 It is the secretary’s responsibility to ensure that the bids have sufficient detail for the Trustees to make informed decisions. It is the Trustees responsibility to ensure that they are fully aware and formally endorse the projected expenditure for the forthcoming FY. The Secretary will identify a suitable date and location for the Screening Day.

16. Funding Profile. Experience has shown us that, in order to raise sufficient funds in order to deliver our programme, the Union needs to ensure a balanced mix of income streams and deploy a sensible investment strategy. Put simply, it is essential the Union does not have a single point of failure, or a narrow funding base, such that events could conspire to seriously constrain activity. It is anticipated that income from the annual Army Navy fixture will form the cornerstone of our income although it is important that all are cognisant of the risks that attach to this and, particularly, the fact that the location of the match is arguably the key driver in ticket sales. Sponsorship is, and will remain, a key source of income and our policy of seeking our sponsorship opportunities from partners across a broad spectrum of British business is vital. But the identification and maximisation of other streams is also important and annual and ad hoc grants must be sought and won if the Union is to achieve the balance it seeks. Income from investments and savings must always be maximised, within certain risk constraints, and it is upon the Secretary to investigate and research investment alternatives and advise Trustees and the Executive Committee of its options. In general, the traditional approach of the Union is relatively conservative in its investment policy so that its reserves can act as a means of support when other income streams are tight yet also deliver a reasonable return.

17. Cash Flow Monitoring. The Secretary is responsible for managing and monitoring the overall cash flow of the Trust and for providing reports thereon to the Trustees and the Executive Committee. These reports will include a comparison of month end outturn with the plan (monthly) and a 12 month projection of month end cash balances (monthly). Decisions and recommendations can thus be made corporately to re-direct resources in order that the strategic aims and objectives of the Union can be achieved as well as funds be deployed at an operational level to maximise opportunities and deal with challenges in-year.

18. Funds Management The Secretary is responsible for ensuring that the Trust has the cash to meet all its commitments. He is also responsible for the operation of the bank accounts and for the management of accounts payable, accounts receivable and investment of surplus funds (the latter subject to guidance from the Board of Trustees). In Jul 13 the Trustees established a Finance and Investment (F&I) sub-committee to provide governance assurance to the RNRU but also to provide oversight and recommendations, including investment policy, to the Board of Trustees. The Committee comprises a Chairman (James Saunders-Watson), a Trustee (Giles Peel), the RNRMC Finance Manager (Sam Curd) and the RNRU Treasurer. They will meet bi-annually or more frequently as the Chairman decides.

19. Auditing The RNRU is a registered charity and, as such, is required to abide by the Statement of Required Practice issued by the Charities Commissioners. This requires us to establish a fully audited set of accounts each year with receipts for all items of expenditure (or signatures if monies are disbursed to individuals) as well as vouchers for all receipts. Naturally, all our expenditure must be shown to support our charitable aims of furthering the playing and enjoyment of rugby football throughout the Naval Service and thus it is essential that propriety pervades all our activity. If anyone is ever in doubt as to whether there is an issue over propriety then, firstly, there probably is and, secondly, they should speak directly with the Chairman or Treasurer.

19.1 The proper care, control and disbursement of RNRU funds, within the broader framework defined by the Charities Commission, the Rugby Football Union and the Royal Navy, lies at the hub of all Union activity. The principles above guide the way in which we conduct that business overall and the discipline of careful budgeting forms the core to our deployment of resources to achieve success. The policy given in this paper and the Financial Regulations document are intended as a means of steering our planning and spending decisions but it will not cover all circumstances. Thus, wherever there is ever any doubt, the Secretary is always to be consulted at an early stage in the process. The Union is registered for VAT with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.


20. The Marketing Strategy covers sponsorship, including event management, merchandise and kit contract with their associated outsourced activities.

21. Sponsorship. The RNRU receives support from approximately 10 sponsors per annum. This support ranges from financial aid to services and is derived from the Defence Industry (Rolls-Royce, MBDA, Babcock, Thales, BAe, QinetiQ), the Service Industry (ESS, Aggreko) and other commercial sectors (TM Lewin, Peter Cooper Volkswagen). Sponsorship agreements are negotiated Jun-Sep for an annual/biennial contract which is documented in a formal letter exchanged by the Director of Marketing (DoM) and the individual sponsor. Sponsors are thanked for their support via the provision of international tickets, event invitations such as Army Vs Navy box hospitality and dinners coordinated by the DoM. The DoM (copy Sec) holds the master sponsor matrix (commercial in confidence), which includes obligations for the sponsor and the RNRU.

22. Merchandise. The RNRU runs a profit making shop both online via the RNRU website as well as on-site sales during key games (Army vs. Navy, Navy vs. MN etc). For the 2013-2014 season onward it will also distribute merchandise through ESS Naval retail outlets (RALEIGH, BRNC, etc). Products range from gifts (cuff-links, ties etc) to the more traditional replica playing shirts. For the enablers of this process see outsourced activities below.

23. Kit Contract. The RNRU aims to provide its players and supporters kit of both good quality and value for money. Due to the high levels of purchase (playing kits, units, replicas etc) discounts are offered by the major suppliers (Gilbert, Samurai etc). The discounts combined with delivery, quality and ultimately value for money, are the determining factors when deciding upon a supplier. For the enablers of this process see outsourced activities below.

24. Outsourced Activities The RNRU outsources its merchandise and kit contract activities. A two-year kit and merchandise contract has recently been agreed with Under Armour Teamsports UK, with Sapphire Seven providing marketing services and the kit and merchandise shop services through the new website.


25. The Communications Strategy will play a key role in meeting the RNRU objectives detailed in this document, by ensuring its activities are communicated in a timely, open, reliable and responsible manner to all stakeholders.

26. Narrative: The Royal Navy Rugby Union (RNRU) has a long and distinguished history dating back to 1906. As both a registered charity and Constituent Body of the Rugby Football Union, we are committed to promoting participation and enjoyment of rugby at all levels within the Naval Service. We are currently in the process of professionalising much of what we do; whilst success in the long running Inter-Services Championship, and specifically the annual fixture against the Army at Twickenham, is a central pillar of our strategy, we are developing our structures and facilities and investing heavily in grass roots and community rugby, as this will provide the foundation upon which we can grow our five representative sides (Women, Veterans, Sevens, U23 and Senior XVs). Opportunities exist for players, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators; we want them all to be involved in developing the club, growing our network and membership, and promoting the brand and values of the RNRU.

27. Themes:

  • EXPLAIN/INFORM (‘Tell the story’). Raise awareness and understanding of what services the RNRU provide, potential benefits and opportunities, and our plans for the development of the club.
  • PERSUADE/ATTRACT/BUILD (‘Join us / be part of the team’). Increase participation (recruit/retain); grow the network and membership; improve quality of experience and opportunities for practitioners; increase our following and support base (numbers and experience); and, our sponsorship (opportunities) through communications, marketing and advertising.
  • PROMOTE. Champion the brand (image and profile), focusing on: Army vs. Navy game; sale of merchandise; enhance image and profile of RNRU (and RN); and, maintaining reputation.

28. Audiences:The target audience will vary dependent on the particular piece of information being communicated. Key stakeholders include:

  • Naval Service
    - Practitioners - players, coaches, officials, volunteers and Member Clubs.
    - Chain of Command
  • Board of Trustees, Vice Presidents and Executive Committee
  • Sponsors/Investors
  • Charity Commission
  • RFU
  • Spectators/Followers and non-playing members

29. Communication will be undertaken through a variety of channels12, but should always be in accordance with the following key principles:

  • Communication will be honest, open and accurate.
  • Communication will be accessible, and when necessary made available in alternative formats.
  • Communication will be consistent, relevant and timely.
  • Communication methods will be monitored and reviewed regularly.
  • Communication will be cost effective and look to make effective use of new technology as appropriate.

30. Website. The RNRU has its own website which is the public facing image of the RNRU.  The website contains news items, a list of fixtures, match reports, key points of contact and other important information.  It also contains a link to the RNRU webshop.  The RNRU work with a number of freelance photographers in order to capture imagery of the broad range of Navy Rugby activity both on and off the field.  A selection of this imagery can be viewed on the website.  The RNRU has a contract with Sapphire Seven for the provision of branding, marketing and communications services. Website development, hosting and on-going maintenance is supported by Serenity, under the direction of Sapphire Seven.


31. Representative Rugby. A structured season is developed annually to maximise player availability for the representative sides and allow players to progress along the player pathway from entry level in their ship/unit to representative rugby. The 12-month cycle starts with the Sharks playing during the summer term, inter-unit/ship (e.g. RM Argyle Bowl, Navy Cup), inter-command competitions and U23 take place between Sep and Dec, which feeds the Senior XV, who run an annual training camp (Feb-May), Women and Ancient Mariners who play between Jan and May. The Royal Navy contributes routinely to the Combined Services (CS) at all levels and are currently responsible for the management and administration of the CS13. 

31.1 Aside from the IS matches the Senior XV play two other high-profile annual fixtures against the Irish Defence Force (IDF) and the French Navy. The Senior XV also competes in the International Defence Forces World Cup every 4 years and the Commonwealth Navies Cup, a competition contested every 3 years between the Navies from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and UK; the Royal Navy RN are the current champions and have won the Cup on each occasion it has been played (5). These provide the fixed waypoints around which the RNRU have developed a RNRU 5 Year Touring Plan.

32. RNRU Touring Policy. The RNRU have developed a touring policy with the aim of providing each representative and, if possible, command side the opportunity to tour once every 2-3 years. This will assist with forward planning, including finances and logistics, provide incentives for both the recruitment and retention of players, support player development within the wider community game and will be linked to the overseas outreach programme. A budget has been allocated at the annual Budget Scrutiny Meeting for which any affiliated teams can bid. Initially command teams will be able to bid for up to £1000 and ships/units £500. Bids will need to be accompanied by a business case detailing aims and objectives of the tour, including any the benefit to the RNRU, proposed itinerary including full costs and details of additional monies bid for and the level of personal contribution. The Executive Committee will consider bids on a case-by-case basis. A skeleton 5-year touring plan is at this link.

33. Caps.

a. A cap shall be awarded to each player who represents the senior Royal Navy XV against the Army, the Royal Air Force, or the French Navy, on the first occasion of his playing. The cap shall be of dark blue velvet trimmed with silver and having a naval crown and wreath on the front. Each capped senior XV player shall also be given a ‘silver’ navy tie, which shall be dark blue background with silver device consisting of the Royal Crown surmounting the monogram interwoven at interval upon it.
b. A cap, additionally monogrammed “Mariners”, shall be awarded to each player who represents the RN Mariners XV against the Army or the Royal Air Force on the sixth occasion of his playing. On each subsequent occasion that he plays against the Army or the Royal Air Force, he shall be recorded as being “capped” again.
c. A cap, additionally monogrammed “Women”, shall be awarded to each player who represents the RN Women XV against the Army or the Royal Air Force, or the French Navy, on the fourth occasion of her playing. On each subsequent occasion that she plays against the Army, the Royal Air Force, or the French Navy, she shall be recorded as being “capped” again.
d. All other players, committee and supporters may purchase the ‘gold’ tie.

34. Personnel of other Navies of the Commonwealth are eligible to play for the Royal Navy when they are attached for duty to the Royal Navy for a period of at least six months, or in accordance with BR 4006. 

35. Community Rugby. Community Rugby is the responsibility of the Director of Community Rugby, supported by the RDO and two CRCs, who are each programmed to conduct 20 hours of community rugby work each week within RN establishments. Through the Rugby Development Committee and the network of RNRU volunteers, the aim is to develop the club management structures in all ships/establishments, grow the game at grass roots level and recruit and develop players, coaches, referees and volunteers.

Current structure includes: grass roots rugby development (O2 Touch and Tag rugby etc), and inter ship/establishment fixtures. The Eastern Region league is well established with between 6 - 8 teams taking part from across all 3 Services. The aspiration is to expand this league to include local Hampshire clubs within the Portsmouth Area by introducing a Flood Lit League. This initiative will encourage additional participation of our training establishments and ships who struggle to release personnel during the working day, also, enabling the RNRU to evidence its CB status in achieving the RFU 6 key drivers. The Western region league has never been run and this season the RNRU are introducing a 15 a-side league that will be played on a monthly basis to re-introduce this element of the game in the Western region.There are no current plans to establish any type of league in the Northern region due to its dispersed geographic make up. However, the region will continue to be supported by the RDO and Eastern CRC with visits supporting their requirements.

35.1 The annual Navy 7s and 10s competitions will be facilitated at a Civilian Rugby Club near to RNAS Yeovilton as this represents the half-way house for Eastern and Western region teams. The Navy Cup and Inter-Command competition are played prior to the representative season in accordance with the players’ development pathway. Teams competing for the Inverdale Cup14 are: Fleet Air Arm, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Royal Marines and RN Scotland. The ‘you play we pay’ scheme is an initiative to offer financial assistance to the Royal Navy Rugby Community. The scheme invites teams to submit a match report in return for a financial contribution towards kit, tours etc.

36. Coaches. The Royal Navy Rugby Union is committed to enhancing the development and ability of coaches of all levels within the Royal Navy. Within a formal coaching structure we aim to provide effective coaches for all Representative, Command, Establishment and Unit sides. Our coaches are key to the re-generation and development of Navy Rugby, and as such is a key aim of RNRU strategy to ensure the future health and vitality of the Union in both terms of quality and quantity of players. The RNRU manage their coaching development programme in conjunction with the RFU. Coaching courses are generally conducted by Naval Service personnel who are accredited RFU Coach Educators/Trainers (Army and RAF RFU Coach Educators and Trainers are also invited). Courses are delivered at HMS Temeraire, which is an approved RFU Coach Education Centre. All courses are administrated in line with the RFU via the Royal Navy RDO.

37. Referees. Sport plays a huge part in Service life and rugby encapsulates the core values of the Royal Navy. Refereeing is an extension of this and crucially allows the RNRU at all levels from grass roots to the representative sides to be supported by the right standard of referee. Entry Level Referee Award (ELRA) courses are delivered periodically in varying Service locations throughout the country. The RNRU manage their refereeing development programme in conjunction with the RFU. Referee courses are generally conducted by the RNRU Referee Development Manager. Courses are delivered in both the Eastern and Western regions and administrated in line with the RFU via the RNRU Referee’s Secretary.

38. Volunteers. The RNRU has a long and proud tradition of volunteers that assist with the day-to-day management and organisation of the Union. Whilst the requirements and commitments may vary between each area it still witnesses roles such as coaching, team management, refereeing, administration and provision of specialist medical services. Regardless as to whether the volunteers support the representative, command or establishments/unit teams, the time, effort and expertise they offer is decisive and warrants recognition. The ‘Value the Volunteer’ scheme is a RFU initiative, which acknowledges those individuals who make a significant contribution to the RNRU, and without whom the club would not function effectively; the RNRU is a staunch supporter of the scheme and readily acknowledges that rugby, throughout the Fleet, is only successful where there are sailors and marines who are prepared to do that little bit extra. 


39. The RNRU is undergoing a period of significant change and development. Routine, day to day management of the club continues in time honoured fashion, including but not limited to, multifarious representative and grass roots rugby activities, regular marketing and sponsorship events, sustainment of our strong relationship with the RFU and engagement efforts to broaden the RNRU network, the majority of which is conducted by an effective team of dedicated volunteers and a few devoted ‘full-timers’. However, founded on a clear strategy we are in the process of stepping up a gear in order to professionalise the way we do business and lay firmer foundations for the future. The changes are wide ranging including: management structures and governance; the employment, for the first time, of a full time paid RDO and two CRCs; a refreshed website; and, a number of new contractor/partners, including new kit and equipment suppliers. These initiatives will not only help with this process of professionalisation, but also significantly improve the quality of service for all our members. This is certainly an exciting time to be part of the RNRU and one full of opportunity.


Annex A 


1. Devonport Services Rugby Football Club (DSRFC). DSRFC - The Sporting Blues - was formed in 1904 and has, since that time, been a Service-orientated club. In its early years its fixture list included names such as Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Gloucester and Leicester; the distinguished Crawshays, the Welsh touring side made up of Welsh internationals and trialists made the first of their many visits in 1922. Over 30 senior full international players have emerged from Devonport Services across the years with many more winning junior age representative honours. While the hey days of the 1950s are long behind us the Club remains extremely proud of its Service traditions and illustrious honours and is building strongly upon these for its future. Today, DSRFC has a Level 7 1st XV, a competitive 2nd XV and will be re-starting the 3rd XV on a more regular basis as the Club expands. The Colts side has been established for over 20 years and is producing a regular drumbeat of county and international age-group players. The Youth section ranges from U7 to U16 and the introduction this year of a Girls section at U13, U15 and U18 has complemented the youth set-up. We only now need to re-instate the ladies side of yesteryear, the Sirens, to complete our playing expansion. Off the field, the Rectory has been firmly placed as the centre of specialisation for local Service rugby, with the Club’s Director of Rugby also being one of the 2 RNRU CRCs. DSRFC became an ‘open’ club in 1990 and has grown to almost 300 players across the age range and within the senior sides. The civilian cadre of players ensure that a strong league and cup fixture list can be maintained for our ever increasing, but more frequently itinerant Navy numbers; there is a strong Fijian local Service community which both adds to and benefits from association with the Club; and there are very many Service parents to be seen encouraging their children on Sundays.

2. United Services Portsmouth Rugby Football Club (USPRFC). USPRFC has a history stretching back over 130 years and takes great pride in providing opportunities to play rugby for players of all abilities. Their home is at Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, which boasts some of the best facilities in the region including a new 3G playing surface that has already proven popular amongst players and officials as well as increasing availability for rugby. USPRFC maintains its focus on serving members of the armed forces, particularly those from the Naval Service, but is also an “open” club allowing civilians to join providing the benefit of a stable player base which in turn keeps the club competitive in the Hampshire Leagues; the serving/civilian balance is governed by the requirement to maintain charitable status15. The club is managed on a daily basis by the CRC identified above on a part time basis through whom the club also extends its commitment to the community. This is a key area of growth and the recent introduction of O2 Touch has also introduced rugby to a new audience. With a strong mini and youth section, colts, women’s rugby and veterans as well as two senior sides there are opportunities for all to participate in rugby and one of the forthcoming objectives is to grow the club culture to generate a strong supporter base.

1 Voting members are those clubs, which meet the criteria of RFU Regulation 3.3. The majority of clubs in a Services context cannot meet those criteria and are, therefore, non-voting clubs as defined by RFU Regulations.

2 The President’s XV is the highest level within the Community Game and provides a developmental stage within the player pathway for individuals to progress to Representative rugby with the RNRU. As such it provides an opportunity for the best performing inter-command players who have not been selected for the Senior XV Annual Training Camp.

3 1920, 1921, 1922, 1927, 1931, 1938, 1939, 1951, 1961, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1987, 1995, 2001, 2010.

4 Player Retention; Recruiting New Players; Retain, Recruit, Develop Coaches, Referees and Volunteers; Effective and Efficient facilities; Effective and Efficient Management and Governance; Integration with the local Community.

5 This document contains personal and confidential material and so access is restricted.

6 RFU Regulations 3.1 and 3.3

7For example complementary International Tickets.

8 Privileges may be amended at the discretion of the Executive Committee, subject to endorsement at AGM.

9 Any other person wishing to propose a suitable candidate for election must, therefore, engage a serving member of the Executive Committee to make the nomination.

10 The Trustee’s policy is to maintain a sufficient level of reserves to provide a stable base for the Charity’s continuing activities; this has been set at one year’s operating costs.

11 Stakeholder Manager, Operations, Governance and Communications.

12 Press releases, features, match reports, social media and websites various, photography, video, events and visits, publications, engagement of key personnel etc.

13 This task is rotated every 2 years between the Army, RAF and Navy. The RNRU will have responsibility between Dec 2012 and Dec 2014. Discussions are on going to clarify the oversight and governance of CS rugby beyond 2014.

14Named after a past Life Member of the Royal Navy Rugby Union Surgeon Captain Inverdale RN

15 Greater than 50% Service personnel.