The Rugby Football Union have faced an almighty backlash after announcing on Wednesday it will be slashing its Championship funding by almost half from next season.
Championship clubs were quick to react, releasing statements that were ultra-critical of the RFU’s decision, and many fans also waged in sharing similar sentiments.
Current and former players – including Will Stuart, a current member of Eddie Jones’ England squad – were also quite vocal with their disapproval. Many felt it will all but end any side’s hopes of breaking into rugby’s top flight, and that this may actually be the beginning of the Gallagher Premiership becoming ring-fenced.
Former Saracens and USA star Chris Wyles commented on Twitter, saying this is a “terrible move”. The winger won four Premiership titles with Saracens and two Champions Cups, but cited how important his time with Nottingham was earlier in his career, saying it was “crucial in my development- not only as a player but more importantly as a person”.
I’m not one to offer my opinion often but I feel this is a terrible move. My two years at @NottinghamRugby was crucial in my development- not only as a player but more importantly as a person https://t.co/IscWKGSwSI
— ChrisWyles (@ChrisWyles) February 12, 2020
Similarly, current England squad member Stuart, who made his Test debut at the start of this month in Paris, tweeted: “The Wild West is getting even wilder. I can’t stress how important my time at @NottinghamRugby was for me. This is pure garbage for lads who put their bodies on the line for already laughable levels of player welfare.”
The Wild West is getting even wilder. I can’t stress how important my time at @NottinghamRugby was for me. This is pure garbage for lads who put their bodies on the line for already laughable levels of player welfare. https://t.co/iwyLJOPVqU
— Will Stuart (@WillStuart10) February 12, 2020
Fellow Bath prop Christian Judge, who played for Bedford Blues and Cornish Pirates, added: “There are some amazing players and clubs in the Championship, and without it many like myself wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make it to the Premiership.”
There are some amazing players and clubs in the Championship, and without it many like myself wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make it to the Premiership. Very disappointing decision https://t.co/6DeFpBfP5Q
— Chris Judge (@JudgemanChris) February 12, 2020
These are not the only players to chastise the RFU over this decision, as so many have come through the Championship. In fact, many stats have been shared showing how many of the England team that beat Scotland last weekend have come through or played for Championship clubs, as well as many in the Scotland team as well.
Updated with the added information that has come in… pic.twitter.com/nnH2iEqinr
— Simon Hutchinson (@HutchMedia) February 12, 2020
Congratulations on killing off the championship. https://t.co/Mo8vN6KWoh
— Jamal Ford-Robinson (@jfordrob) February 12, 2020
Very grateful to @will_hooley and @guardian_sport for telling my story, and the story for so many others playing in the Championship. In light of the decision for the RFU to cut Championship club funding by 50%- I think this article is particularly poignant. https://t.co/p3HcmNBPCD
— Justin Blanchet (@jblanch93) February 12, 2020
Rugby really is in a bad place at the moment… https://t.co/6b4XuEBc7l
— Alex Lewington (@AlexLewington48) February 12, 2020
Very misleading headline! Gutted for @Champrugby ,provides so much opportunity for players and coaches. 50% cuts almost certainly means the beginning of the end, more players and coaches to slip through the net. Very strange and poor decision. https://t.co/6brsPtmCc6
— Tom Cruse (@cruse_dog2) February 12, 2020
Championship funding reduced by 50%….. horrendous decision!!!! https://t.co/njCojKR9eR
— Alex Davies (@ADavies_10) February 11, 2020
Current Championship players have also given their opinion on social media, with Doncaster Rovers hooker George Edgson saying, “Unless you’ve played or worked in the Champ, you won’t have a scooby how detrimental this will be.”
The RFU old boys club are running rugby into the ground. Cutting the @Champrugby budget by 50% but happy to pay a 25K match fee? Shambles. Unless you’ve played or worked in the Champ, you won’t have a scooby how detrimental this will be. https://t.co/oNSGBRoKAW
— George Edgson (@ohedgyboy) February 12, 2020
How generous. What a thoughtful bunch. https://t.co/yh5rEd2Tb7
— Charlie Foley (@charliefoley10) February 12, 2020
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 12, 2020
The future will only tell what the impact of this decision will be, but it has not been accepted from those that have benefited from the Championship, which is a significant number of players across the Premiership.
WATCH: Clubs fear RFU’s savage second-tier funding cut will affect many people’s livelihoods
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