RFU Chief Executive Bill Sweeney has denied rugby union is a ‘posh tory sport’ after the game was the major benefactor from a £300m UK government bailout this week.

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Rugby Union in England received the lion’s share of the bailout (£135m), which was split across the RFU, the Premiership, the Championship, and amateur clubs.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Sweeney denied that it was the case that rugby had received the biggest slice of the pie because it was a Tory sport.

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“That’s nonsense really,” said Sweeney. “That’s the main reasons and recognition it’s probably hit us a bit harder than other sports.

Sweeney argued that as the RFU and the game at large was so reliant on gate receipts, it had been harder bit than most.

“To say it’s for a Tory bias is nonsense really.

“I obviously can’t do it in lockdown but I spent quite a bit of time on the road for two weeks in August, going around to community clubs. I did a bunch in the north midlands and Gloucestershire before this lockdown came in.

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“If you go to Matson in Gloucester, Alnwick in Northumberland, Driffield in Yorkshire or Prenton Rugby Club in one of the toughest housing estates in Birkenhead, we are not a posh Tory sport. That’s a bit of a myth that goes back a number of years.

“The community clubs are very much reflective about modern English society. Then you look at our shop window of the national team, 70 per cent of players are from state schools and 35 per cent are from ethnically diverse communities.

“I really don’t think it’s about Tory bias.”

Sweeney became RFU Chief Executive last year, having joined the setup from the British Olympic Association (BOA) where he has been Chief Executive Officer since 2013.

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