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KCLSU Promises “Additional Funds Available” for Successful Sport Teams, Yet Women’s Rugby Handed £350 Cup Final Bill Over Lack of “Spare Funds”

KCLWRFC celebrate LUSL success
Image courtesy of KCLWRFC

The King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) told Roar in March that “additional funds” were being invested in facilitating teams taking part in “high level” competition, however that same month the Union declined to pay for KCL Women’s Rugby (KCLWRFC) players’ travel to the London Universities Sports Leagues (LUSL) Cup Final.

On 9 March 2024, KCLWRFC were crowned the best women’s rugby university team in London when they beat University College London (UCL) to lift the LUSL Cup. Yet the 22 players who represented King’s at the match each had to pay the £16 train fare to reach the match out of their own pocket.

The Union is already under intense scrutiny for its sport funding, after Roar revealed that the department had overspent its initial budget by at least £88,000 in the 2022/23 academic year.

In March, the SU told Roar that the release of extra liquidity last year had not impacted this season’s budget, however multiple teams have recently complained of restrictive new rules on competition spending. KCL Men’s Football announced a boycott of this year’s Varsity competition over a lack of KCLSU support, a claim that the Union dispute. The KCLSU has even gone as far as to claim that extra money is available to support teams this year.

“We reiterate KCLSU has not reduced travel provisions for sports teams, in fact, additional funds have been allocated in the past year to let clubs partake in sporting activities in competition at higher levels.”

KCLSU statement to Roar (27/03/2024)

Yet only three weeks before the SU told Roar that this additional money was available for ‘high level’ competition, KCLWRFC were informed that the Union would not support them in their travel to the LUSL Cup Final. The email states that the SU “do not currently have spare funds to cover this” as “the cost of covering travel for the finals was not factored into the budget at the beginning of the year”. KCLWRFC won the LUSL League last year.

“I know this will be very frustrating to hear but I can assure you this has been flagged as something we can look at next season… as the season draws to a close it has become clear that we do not currently have spare funds to cover this.”

KCLSU email to KCLWRFC players (06/03/2024)

A KCLWRFC spokesperson told Roar of their disappointment at the ‘rising barriers to entry’ faced by their members.

“Whilst costs like these might seem minor, ultimately it just adds to the barriers to entry for women’s rugby, and women’s sport as a whole at KCL. Increased travel costs for fixtures and training, paired with the membership price increase required to keep the club afloat with massive funding cuts, are going to result in our members sacrificing more than ever to play rugby.

Women’s rugby is more popular than ever before in the UK, and KCLWRFC are the best university team in London right now. But we won’t be for much longer if we don’t get the support we need from KCL or the Student Union.

We’re reliant on Freshers that are willing to try a new sport [and] with costs rising we’re going to struggle convincing students already facing the financial pressures of a cost of living crisis that sport is worth their commitment.”

KCLWRFC spokesperson

The final was held at the LUSL Fest, hosted by Royal Holloway University (RHU). While technically within the Greater London area, with the match being played near Egham, RHU is over an hour away from the central Strand campus of King’s College London (KCL). It also falls outside of the M25 ring-road, the self-declared marker for KCLSU transport funding.

The SU’s transport policy, announced in September 2023, is to pay for British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) competition travel when this is outside of the M25. As well as outlining financial constraints, the email justification for declining to reimburse the KCLWRFC players also states that “although [this is] outside the M25, [RHU] still count[s] as a London university and for LUSL travel is booked and paid for by the students/clubs”.

The LUSL tournament is a subsidiary of BUCS and is even described as a “competition for higher education institutions within the BUCS framework”. In order to participate in the LUSL, captains need to register with and use the BUCS software. Even the KCLSU themselves refer to the two competitions interchangeably in their Captains Training resources, using the terms ‘BUCS and LUSL’ and ‘Non-BUCS’.

KCLSU 2023/24 Captains Training

The KCLSU Sports Club and Funding Guidance does specify that LUSL travel is not funded by the Union. However, the SU’s justification for not covering the £350 is substantially confused by the Union official initially citing a lack of available money as their justification, stating that they had not expected the team to get so far in the competition.

They only later added that LUSL travel would not be covered by the policy anyway – a distinction which is not made clear in many of the Union’s training resources.

KCLSU 2023/24 Captains Training

The KCLSU have also previously informed Roar that they cover competition travel outside of the M25 and they did not state that LUSL, as a subsidiary of BUCS, would not be covered.

“To reiterate, KCLSU covers all expenses of BUCS competing clubs for one training session per week, home fixtures, as well as transport outside of M25.”

KCLSU (14/03/24)

Moreover, whether or not this fixture would fall under the express KCLSU funding criteria in terms of the specific competition, it would appear to match the Union’s description of “competition at higher levels”, which they told Roar was eligible for “additional funding”.

The LUSL Cup Final is not the first time that KCLWRFC have struggled for transport funding this season. According to one team member, “several times” the KCLSU have provided the team with train tickets which leave the team over 40 minutes away from their actual venue.

Furthermore, they claim that a change in Union policy means that players cannot even claim back the cost of buses taken from the train station to the pitch, with individual players stepping up to cover their teammates’ costs.

When approached by Roar over the issues addressed in this article, KCLSU stated that it remains “a strong advocate of its sports clubs”.

“At the beginning of every annual year, all Presidents and Captains are made aware of their roles and of the funding available throughout the year. To assist them we have a policy document in place that underlines the requirements for funding, including transportation for LUSL and BUCS fixtures.

LUSL is an initiative by BUCS but is treated separately. All London Universities can get involved in LUSL, including staff and departments. As a Students’ Union, we fund activities for students, and so our policy on which leagues we support with transportation costs reflects this. The policy protects the funding for the student-only BUCS league and can be found on page 2 of the policy document.

Captains and Presidents are made aware of differing funding policies for BUCS and LUSL and all supporting documents can be accessed on the KCLSU website here.

We’d like to congratulate KCLWRFC on their successful win at the LUSL Cup and we look forward to planning with the team for the 24/25 season.”

KCLSU Spokesperson



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