Seam­less do­mes­tic struc­ture? We have the ex­act op­po­site

The Rugby Paper - - Views -

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

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