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[MegaThread] RFU Top Flight Future

die_mole

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* Reggae Horn * Reggae Horn * Reggae Horn *

Now that Wasps and Worcester have completed stage 1 of phoenixing it appears the RFU and PRL are going to be reevaluating things. Let's do that here. I'm sure there will be lots of reckless speculation so let's have fun.


One option to be explored is 10 team premiership with an 8 team Premiership D2. No mention of the welsh yet.
 

Which Tyler

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This is an idea I've been evolving for 15+ years now, and occasionally posting:

IMO what we need is better player welfare (fewer matches/minutes per player) alongside increased interest levels (higher quality/intensity matches, larger geographic spread, greater diversity of opponents…), and re-arranging the season without shrinking it too much… Which is a bit like trying to square a circle.







IMO, decrease the Prem to 10 teams, 5 in each level of European rugby.
Shrink the champ to 10 (IMO: we can sustain about 20 fully pro clubs, even if they need some charity initially).
Increase promo/relegation with the Championship to 1 automatic and another play off.
Ring-fence the top two leagues (with specific criteria to eject under-performers or include ambitious semi-pro.s).



MSCs for both leagues, but looser than currently, predominantly administrative, and basic stadium features (any mention of capacity should be set very low; circa 2-3K; maybe include plans for increases to 10K over a sensible time period).
Same salary cap for both leagues (but without the expectation of paying up to it for the lower level Championship teams). Salary cap should be based on financial viability, not owner's ego.
TV deal is for both leagues as one deal (ideally 2 Prem and 1 Champ match per weekend, but I'm not averse to more).
RFU academies for all.
Ideally (and this is probably a non-starter) I'd ditch the SF aspect of the Premiership finals (removing international clashes should help with this) and put the top 2 from the league straight into the final. Leagues points difference is translated into score board points at kick-off. Promotion/Relegation match can be played as the curtain raiser.



Create a proper domestic cup competition between the 2 leagues. (I'm unsure if 5 pools of 4, or 6 pools of 4 with 4 invitational teams [ND1? military? England Students? Eng U20? Wales? South Africa ;)] is the better option).
Knock-out stages to include Cup, Plate and Shield competitions so that everyone gets some knock-out experiences every year. Players are only available for the cup if they played less than x minutes (1800?) in the previous season (may allow a higher number for the Championship teams [who won't be playing EPRC fixtures]).
If the cup "just" has the 20 teams, then Cup and Plate go from pools to Quarter Finals, whilst the shield goes straight into semi-finals. If inviting 4 outside teams, then all 3 can have a QF stage.

This gives us 6 pool + 3 KO weekends to fit into the 10 week international window. We've bought that by reducing the league by 4 weekends and helped player welfare with that game-time limit for the domestic cup - I'd also have a maximum number of minutes for every player anyway.



In terms of home matches, clubs go from 11+2 (Prem), 3+2 (EPRC) and… 0 now that the AWC has become a mid-week squad filler, to 9 (Prem), 3+2 (EPRC) and 3+2 (DomCup) so actually increase the number of home gates per season (now that the AWC has died).
Everyone is also guaranteed at least one knock-out match each year, even if they're not guaranteed a home ground for it (might there be room to play DomCup QFs home and away?).
In terms of variety, Prem clubs go from facing 11 English opponents + 2-3 European to 9 English opponents + 2-3 European + an extra 2 English from a less usual pool of opponents.



Dropping 3 teams from the Premiership increases the quality there, and allows the season to be completed without clashes with international weekends.
Dropping 5 teams from the bottom, and replacing them with 3 big names from the Prem massively increases the quality of the Championship.
The Domestic Cup allows for a greater variety of opponents for the Premiership teams, and a requirement to use the back-up players. The Domestic Cup allows the Championship teams a chance at giant slaying the Prem clubs, and to measure themselves against the bigger boys, which really ought to generate interest from fans and sponsors alike.
Combine that extra interest with a proper TV deal (exposure + money) then that should grow the Championship significantly.
Increasing movement between the 2 levels, and greater cross-over matches between the 2 levels, should reduce the bounce-back aspect of promotion and relegation, whilst that and the extra funding for the Champ clubs (and the ring-fencing there) should reduce the existential fear of relegation for the Prem clubs.



For the champ teams, without European rugby, you could argue that they'd be lacking match numbers, despite the higher quality and TV deal. You could also argue that this is better for player welfare, allows them to rest ahead of their giant-slaying opportunities, and allow for smaller squads (and thus, smaller playing budgets at that level).
If there aren't 7 Championship clubs willing to take on full professionalism with all those boosts, then I'd look for the RFU getting involved and "assisting" 1-3 clubs in unrepresented areas, say Carlisle, Blackburn or Canterbury.



In terms of financing, the Premiership's BT deal, signed during Covid, is supposed to be in the region of £37M p.a.
The current ***le sponsorship deal for the Premiership is supposed to be in the regions of £10M p.a.
The current RFU/PRL deal for EPS release etc etc is supposed to be in the region of £27.5M p.a.
FTR, current funding for the Championship is in the region of £3.5M p.a.
I would argue that my suggested set-up would see increases to all of those, and possibly a ***le sponsor found for the Domestic Cup (and remember, that BT deal was shrunk from the previous deal, due to pandemic uncertainties and problems)



Currently, those payments are smoothed over 13 clubs, for £5.7M each (or in the Champ, 12 clubs, for £0.288M each)
If spread evenly over 20 clubs, it would be £3.9M each
If split 3:2 it's be £4.7 (Prem) & £3.1M (Champ)
If split 2:1 it'd be £5.2M (Prem) & £2.6M (Champ)


If interest was increased by 20% from current levels, you could split those monies 3:2 and the Prem clubs wouldn't lose a penny, whilst the Champ clubs would see a 13 fold increase. I would also expect increased interest to increase ticket sales, shirt sales, and the value of club sponsorship agreements – especially in the Championship.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Yeah I'd be into that,

They need to get a TV/streaming deal for the tier 2 though - get it on iPlayer or something,
Get uni students down there to film it, just make sure it's possible to actually see the games
 

LeinsterMan (NotTigsMan)

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Caldy, Hartbury, Richmond, Ampthill and Scottish cut
Wasps moves back to london merges with Ealing and let Scottish get taken over by SRU and have it as a Scottish exiles type thing?
 

Old Hooker

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Yeah I'd be into that,

They need to get a TV/streaming deal for the tier 2 though - get it on iPlayer or something,
Get uni students down there to film it, just make sure it's possible to actually see the games
I like the idea of 10+10, ideally with a combined TV deal covering both divisions.

Would they all be fully pro? If so that would be an increase on what we have now (5 Championsip + 13, really 11, prem) which feels counter intuitive. Lots of detail to think about behind the headlines of any future proposals. But change in one shape or another has to come.
 

stus768

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Thoughts on the second tier having televised games mode week? Thursday night for eg? Could add to the value for broadcaster.
 

die_mole

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Ealing and Doncaster are the only two that seem like they could 100% do it. Hopefully all teams are required to open up their books to PRL and RFU.

Thursday night would be great. But aren't British winter nights awful from a customer point of view?
 

Kiwiwomble

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just posted this in the Wasps thread but maybe more suited here

just re the idea of dropping the comp down to 10 and the "quality over quantity" argument

We've had exactly that in NZ over the last 10 years or so, firstly with the NPC when they dropped it from 14 down to two comps of 7 and then with super rugby since COVID with Super Rugby Aotearoa supposed to be great with just exciting local derbies

The reality in my experience, fans become bored with playing the same teams more often (also see the Rugby Championship), teams that were mid table are now bottom and so loosing more games, both things make people loose interest

Higher "quality" also leads to more injuries as there are no "easy games" just hard slogs every week

Once again...purely my experience...but i hear more and more people loosing interest in the small top quality comps and must preferring local club rugby, might be lower in quality but more relatable

its really interesting youre all having this discussion when im hearing on this side of the world more and more about how we need a bigger more evenly distributed comp, with a small comp if you loose 2-3 on the bounce your season is already in trouble and the fans start to loose interest
 

die_mole

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I mean that’s how college football is and it’s awesome. If you lose two games your chances of winning a national ***le is over and all that’s left is maybe going for a conference ***le. Pretty much have to go undefeated unless something crazy happens. But again not everybody plays everybody.

With the nfl it’s now 17 games and with expanded playoffs teams are kind of waiting til November to ramp things up.

Our other sports play so many games no one cares til playoffs.

They’d be losing 6 domestic games. With the threat of relegation and qualification for Europe most games will mean something.
 

Kiwiwomble

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I mean that’s how college football is and it’s awesome. If you lose two games your chances of winning a national ***le is over and all that’s left is maybe going for a conference ***le. Pretty much have to go undefeated unless something crazy happens. But again not everybody plays everybody.

With the nfl it’s now 17 games and with expanded playoffs teams are kind of waiting til November to ramp things up.

Our other sports play so many games no one cares til playoffs.

They’d be losing 6 domestic games. With the threat of relegation and qualification for Europe most games will mean something.
1665698500401

thats censored "T I T" in t i t le 🤣...is that really such an offensive word?
 

Which Tyler

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Would they all be fully pro?
Yes, but they wouldn't be spending £7.4M on player salaries.

We've currently got 18 fully professional teams; so by granting the 2 best / most ambitious Champ clubs some TV money, some TV exposure, 3 bigger home games per season + a shot at the really big boys at least twice a year + a genuine chance at silverware (even if Shield / Bowl) then... they'd have to be pretty damned incompetent to be unable to make the step up from semi-professional to fully professional.

Of course, at the time I wrote my suggestion out, there were more than 20 fully professional teams, more than 13 with genuine ambitions of premiership rugby, and the salary cap hadn't experienced an unsustainable 50% increase in a 3 year time-frame (or maybe had only just done so - I'm not sure the date that I wrote that out and ran the maths)
 

TRF_Olyy

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Jersey Reds are in a good place atm too
 

Reiser99

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In terms of fans, that is a real conundrum. For example in the post from @Which Tyler from 15 years ago suggests slowly growing to basic stadium requirements to 10k, which is something they have tried to do, yet reality is that not all of the big premiership clubs can fill that number. Rugby has some popularity at national level especially with the 6Ns, but drops significantly at club level. If more clubs are required to have more fans to meet minimum criteria and also help fund their professional status, then they might end up like Wasps, especially as fan bases take time to grow.
 

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Yes, but they wouldn't be spending £7.4M on player salaries

Whatever structure you have, and whatever a team’s status / objectives, teams are always looking to improve their playing squads which invariably means increased salary rolls.

Teams aren’t obliged to spend up to a cap, but those are arbitrary across the board figures - the more important number is what an individual club can actually afford. Any cap would be much more logically applied to something like a % of revenue. Some might decry that as unfair leading to similar outcomes, but it also feels more sustainable.
 

Saintjay

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I support Rob Baxters views on a ten team premiership. As long as it's not my club. I think the simple solution would be to lose a team with an animal in it's name. Sharks, Tigers, Bears, Falcons. Let's me honest it's lazy branding, which equals lazy book keeping.
 

TRF_Olyy

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I support Rob Baxters views on a ten team premiership. As long as it's not my club. I think the simple solution would be to lose a team with an animal in it's name. Sharks, Tigers, Bears, Falcons. Let's me honest it's lazy branding, which equals lazy book keeping.
Agreed

cya northampton
 

Don't Skip Leg Day

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Less teams doesn’t equal better quality. Wasps have delivered some of the best games over the last few seasons.

Less teams equals more repetition without doing some major to that leagues which I don’t think will happen due to the politics of it all.

Anyone know who the 5 fully professional teams in the championship are?
 

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