EPCR is pleased to announce the launch of impACT, the new sustainability strategy for the tournament organisers of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup.

The strategy consolidates and builds on EPCR’s existing and ongoing work in sustainability and social responsibility. It also highlights EPCR’s commitment to delivering sustainability and positive environmental change across the organisation, from its administration to its tournaments, players and partnerships. The development of this new sustainability strategy was a key pillar of the new EPCR Corporate strategy established last year by the tournament organisers.

impACT will also support decision-making around key activities linked to the organisation of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup.

As part of the launch of impACT, EPCR is also pleased to announce that Board member, Andrea Rinaldo, member of FIR, ex-Italian international and a world-renowned hydrologist and recently-named Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2023 – often described as the Nobel Prize of Water – will take on the role of EPCR’s impACT Ambassador, supporting and advising on the development of its sustainability strategy.

EPCR Chairman, Dominic McKay, said: “The overarching mission of EPCR is to continue to create outstanding rugby experiences for players and fans. We can only do that if we ensure we are adapting and developing practices and solutions that will help us create a more sustainable future for rugby.

“EPCR is committed to raising the profile of sustainability and environmental issues across the rugby family.

“We are delighted that Andrea Rinaldo, Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2023, has agreed to be our first impACT Ambassador. His passion for both rugby and the sustainable environment alongside his extensive expertise make him the ideal person to support the delivery of impACT.”

Developed in collaboration with experts from sustainability agency, The SHIFT, and supported with funding from the Swiss Canton of Vaud, in which EPCR’s Lausanne headquarters are located, the strategy focuses on objectives linked to two key pillars of Respect and Growth.

The Respect pillar within the strategy focuses on EPCR continuing to commit to good stewardship of the game. This pillar includes the development of a plan that will pave the way for the EPCR Finals to be carbon net zero by 2030, for the organisation to promote equity both internally and externally for rugby as a sport, and also to champion and profile initiatives that support the health and wellbeing of players, match officials and its staff.

Alongside this, the Growth pillar focuses on maximising the positive impact of EPCR and its tournaments and finals to create a legacy for the organisation, for rugby, and for society more widely. The key action points under the Growth pillar are to support the development of women in the game, to work with EPCR’s partners to create ‘Partnerships with Purpose’, and to identify and collaborate with strong role models who embody and inspire EPCR’s social responsibility values.

Many initiatives are already embedded within the current practices of EPCR, with impACT uniting these initiatives into one coherent strategy with an expanded commitment to sustainability.

Some of the existing initiatives that have formed a core part of informing and establishing the impACT strategy include:

  • Championing the increase of female appointments in the areas of Match Officials, Citing Commissioners and Judicial Officers. Forty per cent of Match Official, Citing Commissioner and Judicial Officer appointments in the current season’s Rounds 3 and 4 were women.
  • Appointing the first all-female team of Match Officials for a men’s EPCR match, headed by Hollie Davidson who refereed the EPCR Challenge Cup, Round 3 fixture between the Scarlets and Toyota Cheetahs.
  • Working with local community groups in the region of Finals venues to promote sustainability and education initiatives.
  • Applying reduce, reuse and recycle principles to perimeter board and stadium branding, ensuring positive environmental and financial impacts.
  • Incorporating sustainability initiatives into agreements with Finals venues.
  • Supporting rugby participation both in the Swiss Canton of Vaud and in clubs’ local communities through donation of balls, bibs, kit and other equipment.
  • Trialling remote broadcast production operations to minimise travel where possible.

EPCR is committed to continuing these initiatives within the framework of the impACT strategy, while at the same time ensuring new commitments by the organisation and its tournaments to deliver ever-increasing positive change.

EPCR Marketing and Commercial Director, Francois Vergnol, said: “We have taken measures to understand clearly where we are, which have enabled us to make the right decisions and take positive steps towards purposeful change.

“As sport around the globe recognises the ways event delivery can impact on the environment, and particularly on climate, this strategy can help guide our efforts towards offering even better, and more responsible events and Finals.”