Seamless domestic structure? We have the exact opposite
THE RFU seem to have allowed ring-fencing issues to pervade all aspects of English rugby where the Premiership is concerned.
1. Creating an official ring fence around the Premiership still looks likely to happen, despite the fact that it would be the death knell for ambitious clubs below the top tier.
2. The insidious agreement between the RFU and Premiership Rugby under which no player outside that league can play for England – no matter how good he is – has created another ring fence.
3. The ill-fated Anglo Welsh Cup will be replaced by a new domestic cup involving just the 12 Premiership clubs; one more ring fence.
4. Now comes news that the RFU are to halt their £50m plan for artificial pitches, along with making up to 75 employees redundant, in a major cost-cutting exercise. Many of those pitches would have been for grassroots clubs and many of those losing their jobs were involved in grassroots coaching. Yet the £30m a year budget for the under-performing senior England side will be ring-fenced; as, no doubt, will a similar amount which is given annually to Premiership clubs.
A generation ago, with the creation of club leagues and rugby going open, the RFU publicly stated that their aim was to create a ‘seamless domestic structure’.
English rugby now has the exact opposite, with a huge chasm existing between 12 self-interested Premiership clubs and the rest. JEFF GAGE via email