Grassroots rugby in Scotland returns nearly £8 in social and economic benefits for every £1 invested, according to a new report released today by the sport's governing body.

The study commissioned by Scottish Rugby also found that the value of volunteers such as coaches, referees and transportation providers amounted to £31 million during the year to March 31. On average those who assisted spent between 20 and 40 hours per month doing so, with nearly 10% dedicating as much as 100 hours a month.

The report by research group Substance put the overall economic benefit of community rugby in Scotland at £159.2m, representing a 771% return on investment. This was made up of £13.5m in economic benefits, £41.2m of social benefits, and £103.3m from health and wellbeing benefits.

The Herald:

The value of volunteering efforts was second only to that of wellbeing benefits estimated at £92m. Participation in rugby was found to have a positive and quantifiable impact on reducing depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, while also reducing crime and improving educational performance.

The top-line figure also includes £13.5m of economic benefits.

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Scottish Rugby vice president Keith Wallace, who also chairs the group's club rugby board, said the report is a "real game-changer".

"For the first time it provides hard evidence of what we all strongly believed: firstly, that our thousands of volunteers deliver huge value; and secondly that participation in club rugby delivers benefits for players, clubs, communities and the Scottish economy," he said.

Participation by non-professional rugby players in Scotland returned more than £3,000 per player during the year to the end of March, a similar level to the per-player value in Scottish football. There are an estimated 50,000 club rugby players in Scotland.

Participation also drove ancillary spending by club players, their families and friends, totalling nearly £6m  during the same time period. Players spent £3.1m on kit, £1.1m on food and drink, and £1m on trips and tournaments.

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Between the 155 member clubs surveyed and Scottish Rugby, annual expenditure on club rugby was £24.4m. Some of that investment went into facilities, and use of 416 rugby pitches across Scotland delivered a gross value add (GVA) of £7.5m.

Clubs also raised £1.2m in charitable giving during the 12 months, delivering a boost to Scotland’s third sector.