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RFU statement: Professional game partnership, Championship update

By Liam Heagney
An England team huddle during the recent Guinness Six Nations (Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

The RFU have provided an update on its men’s professional game partnership, explaining that key elements of this new deal have been agreed. They also gave the latest on the status of negotiations regarding the Championship and its proposed revamp.

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The update emerged on Friday following the latest RFU council meeting. A statement read: “Following extensive collaboration with Premiership Rugby, Premiership clubs and Rugby Players Association (RPA) over the past 18 months, the key elements of a co-created deal have been agreed for the men’s professional game partnership (MPGP), representing a transformation of the professional men’s game that will set it up for a successful future.

“Through the agreement, we are: Improving the men’s performance system, providing better access and management of top players to enhance performance, while increasing playing opportunities for developing talent;

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“Establishing a new aligned governance structure, the men’s professional rugby board, reducing conflicts and improving decision-making; And Stabilising the professional club game while safeguarding the RFU’s financial position through a funding agreement comprising two, four-year terms.

“Council approved the delegation of specified regulatory decisions to a new men’s professional rugby Board following RFU Board approval of the same, as well as the financial commitments under the agreement.

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“The RFU, Premiership Rugby and RPA will formally announce the signature of and detail of the full Men’s Professional Game Partnership together after the summer tour.

“Council also approved the mechanism for promotion and relegation which will be a two-match home and away play-off between the bottom placed Premiership club and the winner of the Championship/Tier 2, provided that that latter club meets the minimum standards criteria in place at the relevant time.

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“This continues to allow for promotion and relegation, better provides a mechanism to determine on-field competitiveness and takes into consideration the financial challenges of clubs in both leagues.

“Since February 2023, and as part of our transformation of the men’s professional game through the MPGP, the RFU, Championship club committee and Premiership Rugby Limited have been working to develop a reimagined Tier 2.

“The objective is to create a second tier that supports the English system by developing young English talent, whilst supporting the clubs to become financially sustainable by growing local audiences and increasing the value in the league.

“In April 2024, council approved the principles of a new governance structure, the minimum operating standards, and the principle of Tier 2 comprising 14 clubs from 2025/26.

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“Since April, we have been working with the extended Championship executive team to reach final agreement on the following components of the league: Funding; Delegation to a new Tier 2 board; Timeline to complete the MOS self-validation process; Competition structure.

“Council were updated on the progress made since its April meeting and members approved the revised minimum operating standards self-validation timeline and final delegation of authority to the Tier 2 board.

“The final decision on the exact format of the 14-team league will be made by the Tier 2 board no later than August 1, 2024, with the mechanism for any new teams in the league to be decided by council and announced ahead of the new season.

“This timeline preserves the commitment that we have made to ensure that all clubs have at least 12 months’ notice of any major changes to the RFU leagues.”

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Turlough 2 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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