Premiership ‘threatens to split’ with RFU over relegation
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.