The RFU’s Premiership ringfencing has clubs considering a future away from the influence of the national body, according to a stunning report by The Mail on Sunday.
The report suggests that Premiership Rugby have threatened to break away from the RFU and form their own rebel league if the promotion-relegation rules are not scrapped.
Premiership Rugby’s board meeting minutes detail discussions by club chairmen exploring the idea of an ‘unregulated competition’.
“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,” the Board minutes stated.
After private equity firm CVC purchasing a minority stake for £200m, clubs are set for a windfall injection of funds. With the financial disparity of Premiership versus Championship inclusion growing, the clubs are keen to protect their financial security. Relegation to the Championship is viewed as a financial ‘disaster’.
If the clubs were to break away and form a rebel competition outside the jurisdiction of the RFU, it could prove catastrophic for the national team. The Professional Game Agreement that provides Premiership Rugby with £30million a year for access to players for the RFU could be put in jeopardy.
A spokesman for Premiership Rugby Limited has advised that an investigation will be undertaken in regards to the leaked minutes.
‘As anyone would expect the Premiership Rugby Board will 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.’
Claims that the RFU floated a period of 4-5 years without promotion and relegation were also denied, as was the notion that the RFU is aware of a potential breakaway league, with no proposal from PRL to look at ringfencing as yet.
Rugby World Cup City Guide – Oita:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.