It’s often the case with any major sport; there always appears to be a lot of interest and focus at the very top elite levels.

But, the further down the leagues and levels you travel, it feels like the more they are forgotten about. And this certainly applies in rugby, specifically at the semi-pro level, which brings its future into question.

There is no denying that chiefs at the RFU, the Rugby Football Union, are incredibly focused on the task at hand, which to them is the upper echelons of the sport, i.e. the Premiership. But while all the RFU’s focus is on the Premiership, it’s further down the pyramid and in the foundations of the sport where many believe attention is needed.

From level three down, it’s said there are a wealth of challenges that the semi-pro game is currently facing, and there’s a need for some assistance to move things forward. While it is claimed that any finances from the RFU at this level of the sport are spent on paying players, there are other areas where funding is much needed, and this will ultimately mean that there will then be less of an onus on player wagers.

So, when you’re talking about the future of semi-pro rugby in England, much of what happens will ultimately revolve around sourcing funding, whether from the RFU or other sources. By other sources, it could be possible to establish lucrative sponsorship arrangements. Entain, who own the bingo brand Gala Bingo, are famed for their Pitching In campaign at grassroots levels of sport, for example.

Bringing in more revenue, specifically at semi-pro level, would immediately take the pressure off the sport and allow finances to be appropriated better, leading to a more efficient and prosperous future. Everything could be improved, from facilities and playing surfaces to equipment provision and the standard of coaching and refereeing. Positive changes such as this will only benefit the sport, teams further up the levels, and the RFU in the long term, too, so you could argue it’s a no-brainer.

Pre-pandemic, for example, you were looking at participation numbers in semi-pro rugby in England being around and above the quarter of a million mark. However, more recently, these numbers are registering at approximately 100,000 less per year. And the number of participants could continue to fall as time goes on, which doesn’t bode well for the future of the sport.

But, by increasing the focus of the RFU on level three and below, by obtaining more finances, appropriating money better and making the right improvements, it will make getting involved in semi-pro rugby more appealing, which in turn will make getting involved in semi-pro rugby more appealing mean the future is brighter. And, you never know, England’s next big stars could be born from all of these positive steps being taken, and nobody is going to complain about that, are they?