Premier­ship ‘threat­ens to split’ with RFU over rel­e­ga­tion

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Ben Coles

Premier­ship Rugby could break away from the Rugby Foot­ball Union to form a new in­de­pen­dent league re­plac­ing the Gallagher Premier­ship, ac­cord­ing to a re­port last night.

The Mail on Sun­day has re­vealed min­utes it says are from a re­cent meet­ing be­tween the club’s chair­men, threat­en­ing to form an un­reg­u­lated league sep­a­rate from the RFU, should the na­tional gov­ern­ing body ul­ti­mately turn down the league’s pro­posal to scrap rel­e­ga­tion.

A break­away would threaten the eight-year, £200m pro­fes­sional game agree­ment signed be­tween the RFU and Premier­ship Rugby Lim­ited in 2016.

One of the min­utes from the board meet­ing, quoted in the Mail on Sun­day, states: “If the RFU were to be un­will­ing to sup­port change, we shall need to en­sure ac­cess to match of­fi­cials and player in­sur­ance cover (as this is a joint pol­icy), as this would po­ten­tially be­come an un­reg­u­lated com­pe­ti­tion.”

Ringfenc­ing the Premier­ship re­quires the ap­proval of the PRL’s 13 board mem­bers – the cur­rent Premier­ship clubs plus London Ir­ish – as well as that of the RFU.

Premier­ship Rugby Lim­ited launched a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the leak­ing of the min­utes last night, with a spokesman say­ing: “The Premier­ship Rugby Board dis­cuss a num­ber of is­sues at each meet­ing, with only some of those ever com­ing off the draw­ing board and into reality. Our meet­ings are a fo­rum for ideas to be dis­cussed but un­til there is an agreed pol­icy, these are just ideas.”

Scrap­ping rel­e­ga­tion has be­come an in­creas­ingly in­tense topic of dis­cus­sion among Premier­ship clubs, with sev­eral es­tab­lished sides in dan­ger of drop­ping into the Cham­pi­onship.

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