The Welsh Rugby Union will offer defibrillators to every single club in Wales after the launch of a new initiative with the Calon Hearts charity.

With over 300 amateur clubs in Wales, the move is set to cost the WRU over £300,000 though it is seen as a vital investment and will serve thousands of men, women and junior rugby players across the country.

Calon Hearts will provide the defibrillator, take care of the installation and provide training to relevant volunteers at every club.

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Statistics show that the survival rate of a sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital is just 3%, rising to 47% when a defibrillator is used.

“This initiative will provide vital help and support throughout our game as it seeks to return safely after the disruption of the pandemic,” said WRU community director Geraint John.

“Defibrillators have been a major topic of conversation with clubs and also at the Community Board Level in recent weeks and I would like to thank everyone involved in getting this project over the line.

“This is a significant financial commitment from our Board, but it is one that will save lives and have a directly positive impact not just on the community game in Wales but on the health of the nation.

“We know there are clubs who already have defibrillators but there are many areas where they haven’t been purchased through lack of funds or availability and we have now removed this obstacle.

“For those clubs who are already ahead on this issue, and have their own machines, we will still be in a position to provide additional support, whether that be extra machines for training grounds or club houses, introducing mobile machines or meeting the cost of those already purchased.”

Last month, 31-year-old Cwmllynfell RFC player Alex Evans passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest during a memorial match against Crynant RFC.

It led to calls from Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams for all Welsh rugby clubs to be equipped in the worst case scenario.

Calon Hearts director Sharon Owen said: “There are not enough defibrillators in Wales or trained people to give victims the best chance of survival during those first few critical minutes and so we are extremely grateful to the WRU for their support of this initiative.

“We hope the defibrillators never have to be used, but if they are used many lives in Wales will be saved as a consequence.

“When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival drop by up to 14% for every minute that passes, so a speedy response is crucial. Early defibrillation – within four to five minutes – gives the best possible chance of survival.

Wales internationals Ken Owens and Hallam Amos supporting the WRU's defibrillator initiative

“With access to more defibrillators at rugby clubs throughout the country, Calon Hearts can help our partners in the emergency services to improve chances of survival and protect our communities.”

A person suffering a cardiac arrest will lose consciousness, will not be breathing and will have no sign of circulation. A defibrillator is used to shock the heart.

Clubs looking to take advantage of the initiative should reply to a message from the WRU’s community department or contact them directly. Then a brand new defib – worth around £1,200 – will be installed.

Clubs that have bought a new defib themselves are eligible for a refund, provided it was bought after June 1, 2021.

“This is a fantastic initiative and one that the WRU Board has been only too happy to support,” said WRU chairman Rob Butcher.

“Rugby is the heart and soul of Wales and our clubs are at the centre of communities throughout the country, sometimes in remote places but always in areas where there are groups or large gatherings of people.

“If only one life is saved by this venture that will be a huge bonus for us, but just to have the reassurance that these life-saving machines will now be at every rugby club in Wales is enough.”