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Doncaster reveal 'absolute pittance' Championship clubs are given by RFU

By Chris Jones
James Mitchell of Doncaster Knights, who played Ealing over the weekend /Getty Images

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Doncaster Knights have revealed the massive disparity between second tier professional rugby in England and France thanks to the “absolute pittance” in funding from the Rugby Football Union.


The Knights travel to Premiership club Newcastle Falcons on Saturday for their only pre-season fixture ahead of the new campaign admitting their ability to assemble a squad capable of challenging big spending Ealing Trailifinders for promotion to the top flight to turn the Premiership into a 14 team competition is hampered by savage cuts in central funding.

“I think we’re down to about £140,000 a year to try and operate on a full-time budget which is virtually impossible,” Knights head coach Steve Boden told BBC Radio Sheffield. “It’s well documented that the Championship isn’t funded anywhere near enough.

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“I think before it was about £600,000 (from the RFU) that each club got and that’s an absolute pittance compared to what the French teams, for example, get in their second and third tier. We’d bite their hand off for that right now.”

In France, Pro D2 clubs receive around £2m each in funding from the Ligue Nationale Rugby (LNR) and its partners, as well as cash incentives being available to based on the selection of homegrown academy players.

The cash strapped RFU have set up another working party to try and work out a way of making the Championship a playing and financial success but admitted their problems last year with RFU CEO Bill Sweeney saying: “We still think the Championship has a role to play and think it’s a great place to develop, we just can’t afford to run two professional leagues.”

“If we were to fund the Championship to the extent it would need to be funded to make it more competitive with the Premiership, it would probably be £25m to £30m and we simply can’t afford that sort of money.”


Ealing Trailfinders, with millionaire Mike Gooley backing them, are favourites to win promotion to the Premiership and Boden believes only better funding at Championship level would make the top two leagues more competitive. “For me that’s the way forward (to increase Championship funding) but it’s way out of my job description,” he said.

“If you want to have more sides who have the opportunity to go up into the Premiership and have a more competitive Premiership then I just feel that addressing the funding in the Championship is one way of doing that.”


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