Your Club and Country

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Ulster Bank and the IRFU have teamed up again for a lucrative fundraising draw that benefits the country’s clubs.

This is the seventh season that Ulster Bank will work with the IRFU to raise money for the grassroots club game through the Your Club, Your Country Grand Draw. This innovative scheme enables local clubs to raise thousands of euros by selling prize-draw tickets to their members and the community at large. Clubs that sign up receive 1,000 tickets with a value of €10 each, along with promotional posters to raise awareness of the draw and the prizes on offer. The full face value of every ticket sold is retained by the club, meaning they can potentially raise €10,000 in often much-needed funds. Last year, Your Club, Your Country raised over €628,000 for participating clubs, bringing the total raised since the scheme’s inception to more than €3.6m. This season, the Grand Draw is expected to push that total past the €4m mark.

Top prizes

With top prizes including a trip to Australia to see the Ireland rugby team complete with flights, accommodation, match tickets and a spending allowance; a €5,000 holiday voucher; and a VIP trip to Paris to see France v Ireland in the NatWest 6 Nations, the draw is sure to generate a lot of interest. Other prizes this year include a Galway Races VIP package; transatlantic business class flights for two with Aer Lingus; and a state-of-the-art home entertainment system worth €1,500. “The Your Club, Your Country grand draw continues to provide a fantastic fundraising outlet for clubs,” says Philip Orr, president of the IRFU. “The support of the IRFU's partners and particularly Ulster Bank has helped drive the success of this initiative as we approach the €4m mark. Fundraising is vital to all clubs as they strive to provide a first-class sporting and social outlet in their communities.”

Club benefits

One club that throws itself into the scheme every year is Killarney in County Kerry. Treasurer Mike Walker says: “The draw gives us an opportunity to raise up to €10,000. As it costs upwards of €30,000 a year to run the club, this is very significant – it could contribute up to a third of our annual costs. “This year we expect to raise around €7,000 – €8,000. We recently started an underage girls team – it’s our first-ever girls team, and they’re getting €2,000 out of the funds raised to buy kit, so they’ve bought into this in a big way.”

Community benefits

“The parents and the kids like it – they follow Munster and they want to try rugby, so we have a very strong underage set-up here, exposing a lot of people to the game,” says Walker. “It’s been a huge benefit to the community and we’re now able to have visiting teams because we have a ground of our own – which is something we didn’t have for many years.” Killarney has also seen one of its members win a top prize in the Your Club, Your Country Grand Draw – and this has fuelled demand for tickets. “We were very lucky last year in that one of our members won the second prize, which was a €5,000 holiday voucher. We all wanted to travel with him on his weekends away! After that, we’re expecting a good return on the tickets this year.”

“The money raised benefits the kids in the local community and also helps run the senior teams and goes into the general running of the club” Seamus Dennison, Club Secretary, Roscrea RFC Michael Diskin, chief executive of Lansdowne RFC in Dublin, agrees that the Your Club, Your Country Grand Draw performs an important function not just for the club but also for the wider community. “We sold most of our tickets last year and the money went into rugby development and improvements to our facilities. Funds like this allow the facility to exist for the community – we have a very strong youth and mini section with up to 400 members. [The club] enables them to develop friendships and skills outside of school and helps the social fabric of the area.”

Rugby benefits

The funds raised will also go towards raising the next generation of players, says Diskin. “The clubs are the breeding ground for the provincial and ultimately international players, so this helps them at a grass-roots level.” Roscrea RFC in County Tipperary has a similar commitment to bringing in young players, with multiple youth teams (under-13s – 19 years old) ranging all the way down to minis (under-sevens – 12 years old). “The money raised benefits the kids in the local community and also helps run the senior teams and goes into the things required for the general running of the club, such as lighting, heating and insurance,” says club secretary and former Ireland international Seamus Dennison. “We also started a girls’ team at the end of last season, so local girls benefit [from the draw], too.”

This year’s draw

The 2017 Your Club, Your Country Grand Draw will take place on 11 December, and clubs all over the country will be celebrating big prize wins for some of their members and the local community. Meanwhile, the huge amount of money raised for the clubs means everyone will benefit. “Ulster Bank works hard to provide meaningful help to the communities we serve and this initiative does just that,” says Joe Heneghan, Director of Customer Experience and Products at Ulster Bank. “It provides support for clubs at the very heart of communities around the country and helps them to invest in their facilities, grow their clubs and fulfil their ambitions. Ulster Bank provides help for what matters to our customers and we are proud to support the Your Club, Your Country Grand Draw.”

 

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Saturday, 17 November 2018
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