• Help Support The Rugby Forum :

RFU plots club revolution




New breakaway league threatens Leicester, Bath, Quins and Wasps
THE Rugby Football Union (RFU) will this week unveil a blueprint for its own super league that could consign some of England's most famous clubs â€" including Leicester, Gloucester, Bath and Wasps â€" to the history books. Francis Baron, the RFU's chief executive, will outline the union's plan to run its own competition, creating 10 "super clubs" evenly spread throughout the country on a geographical basis. All of the new teams would be equally funded by the RFU and there would be no promotion or relegation. After years of civil war between clubs and country, this is the union's attempt to take control of the game.

The RFU will invite existing clubs to apply to join the Super 10, jointly owned by the union and the competing clubs, which is scheduled to kick off in 2009. At least two, but, in all probability, as many as eight of today's Premiership clubs will be cast adrift. The Sunday Times understands that the RFU would like its Super 10 teams to be based at Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Coventry, Worcester, Bedford, Saracens, Richmond, Bristol and Plymouth. This will leave Bath, Gloucester, Harlequins, Leicester, London Irish, Northampton, Sale and Wasps, clubs with big support that have provided hundreds of England players, to fight for their future outside the top division.

Clubs who do not make the cut will have two options. They can merge with one of the Super 10 outfits, or continue to play in a downgraded Premiership â€" with no cash support from the RFU. Only Super 10 sides will be allowed to represent England in the lucrative Heineken European Cup and Anglo-Welsh competitions. All England's Heineken Cup winners â€" Bath, Northampton, Leicester (twice) and Wasps â€" are among the clubs excluded from the plans.

Last night Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Premier Rugby, which represents the clubs, said: "If (the RFU) really want to go down this route they will cause a massive split. There is not a Guinness Premiership club which would participate in anything so far removed from what anyone has ever contemplated, and how ridiculous that so many great clubs are not even involved."

The RFU would not elaborate on the proposals. A spokesman said: "The RFU plans to launch a game-wide consultation process once the Six Nations is concluded in March, which will last three months. Only once this process is complete will any proposals be finalised."

Baron added: "The RFU is determined that we take the time to have an informed debate and to find the answer that is right for English rugby. We are looking forward to the support and input of the wider game as we seek to achieve this objective."

The concept will be discussed at a full RFU council meeting on February 9.


lol @ the 1st division fans who are worried they'll never get into the top flight - There won't even be a top flight soon by the sounds of it. We all knew this would happen once Rob Andrew got a soap box to stand on. Tosser.



Death threat to top clubs
Stephen Jones

The RFU is planning to transform English rugby with 10 franchises, but will destroy several famous clubs in the process
Just lately, there has been an odd silence from the Rugby Football Union. When you inquire of leading figures on either side of the union-versus-clubs dispute as to what is happening, there has been a one-word answer in the past few weeks: nothing. Strange, considering the urgency of the situation. Perhaps all is now revealed with our disclosures today that the RFU has been busy planning what is, depending on how you look at it, either a revolutionary new structure or an instant suicide for professional rugby in this country. Perhaps the silence has been caused because the union has been beavering away in secret.

Yet their plans for a Super 10 tournament and for a massive downgrading of many of the heartland institutions of English rugby are suspiciously outlandish as well as apparently unworkable. You seriously wonder if the whole thing is not yet another sabre-rattling act in the tiresome posturing between the two sides as they search for a solution that will fuel the twin aims of national team success and professional club prosperity. This is a theory that gains strength when you look at the 10 towns and cities where the RFU, apparently, would like to install its franchised teams â€" and franchised they are, what else could they be if the RFU holds a majority stake in all 10 and if potential participants have to apply to the RFU for their licence to play? What we find is that clubs on the list represent the doves in the current dispute together with a few others who are struggling on the field or financially. The hawks in the dispute, those clubs that are in general running splendidly, have been specifically excluded â€" among them Gloucester, Leicester, Sale, Wasps and London Irish.

Can we really take this RFU plan seriously when we know as well as it does that it will be alienating, and even ejecting from rugby altogether, institutions that are making a profit, together with tens of thousands of loyal fans. Fans who are there for tribalism and for dedicated local support, rather than people who would be perfectly happy to travel 20 or 30 miles in various directions just to catch some kind of bogus institution that the RFU has created for its own ends.

Yet if these moves are a genuine attempt to build a lasting structure for the game in England, then many will conclude that the RFU understands even less about professional rugby than we thought it did. The history of rugby union and rugby league shows emphatically that it is all but impossible to jack up new clubs without roots, and that all the successful operations are those which have been there, in at least some form, for ever.

Just at that very time when the club game has put behind it the years of horrible uncertainly, at that very time when the majority of the clubs are profitable and when they simply cannot build bigger stadiums quickly enough, the RFU is seriously considering a move which, effectively, starts it all again from scratch.

Unless the RFU is completely myopic, it will fully realise the severity of the opposition, and the unity that its actions will cause in all areas of the game. It is a moot point as to which department of the game will be the most incensed. For example, it is one thing for the RFU to

go to Leicester’s directors and 16,000 season-ticket holders to ask them to apply for a franchise to run a new rugby club in the city they have served so well for more than 120 years. But it is another thing altogether for it to go to Leicester and tell them that they no longer have a professional club of any significance, at all. I would imagine that the sometimes fragile unity of Premier Rugby Limited, the clubs’ parent body, will suddenly change into a steel resolve.

There will also be fury among the clubs of National One, a division full of new investment and aspiration. There will also be anger out in the RFU heartlands.

The RFU has always set the greatest store by the fact that rugby is an open and seamless game and that all clubs can aspire to the top. Amazingly, it is they who are now propounding the idea of a smug elite â€" and indeed, an elite which apparently plays relatively few games a year. Presumably, the paying public are meant to twiddle their thumbs on those weekends where the professional teams no longer play.

There are a large and growing number of honest people in the RFU who realise how far out of touch with the modern game the union has become. Francis Baron, chief executive of the RFU, was put out some time ago when I suggested that the union was almost completely unrepresentative of modern reality. But in almost the next sentence, he bemoaned the fact that the dispute between the union and clubs is now in its second decade. That is hardly a situation which speaks of the RFU’s ability in terms of modern governance.

There is also a growing number of leading figures both inside and outside the union who realise that a truly representative body to drive forward the modern game would include officials from the England team itself, representatives of the professional players, and owners and directors of the professional and other top clubs. Yet hardly any of these bodies have any worthwhile representation at Twickenham and, frankly, the new suggested format also strikes me as a desperate last attempt by the RFU in its current form to keep control and retain any moral right to govern.

There is talk that the RFU has already consulted lawyers as to whether their moves would have a legality. Perhaps in legal terms the RFU does have a right to decide how the game is to be set up. But if it has a legal right, then it has no moral right to impose its own structure on teams and players and followers who do not want it. It is also silly to pretend that something based on a kind of geographical correctness, based on areas with little support and no ground, could succeed even if the game at large wanted it to succeed.

The grim news for all of us sick to death of intransigence on both sides, tired of posturing and power plays, and plaintively trying to point out how good rugby can be in this era, is that the RFU’s plans will dramatically prolong the agony and will subject the game to at least two more years of stress and bickering.

They will affect adversely the image of the game in the eyes of its public and sponsors and will put in jeopardy the playing of every serious event, from the World Cup downwards, as all top England players are contracted to the top English clubs. There is nothing stopping those contracts being renewed well into the future.

And finally, the game will pay a price for the fact that the RFU will be seen to have moved away from serious and good faith negotiations with the clubs into a move of massive heavy-handedness which will cause every emotion from despair to disgust out in the nation.

There are solutions to be found, but no solutions will be found for the weaknesses in the England game at present if the current strengths are to be battered and blackmailed into submission.
What a load of ********.

If this ever goes ahead as outlined above then I for one will relinquish my support for any side involved with the RFU - if that means he national side then so be it.

Imagine basing a Midlands side at Bedford instead of Northampton or Leicester. Imagine expecting supporters with huge rivaleries to come together, abolishing some of the fiercest derbies in domestic rugby: Saints vs Tigers; Gloucester vs Bath etc.

Utterly ridiculous. Fortunately I don't see it happening.
I don't mind, my team survives :D

On a realistic note though, it ain't going to happen, at least not the way that the RFU would want it to happen.

Look on the bright side guys, either way, at least this will force the usually stubborn-in-protecting-their-vested-interests-bordering-on-the-farcical clubs will get the boot up the arse needed to link up with the leagues of other countries and take another step towards a truly unified, multi conference European super league!

That'll happen either with the clubs meekly rolling over and submitting to th e RFU, or by saying "f*** this, we're outta here" and forming their own rival league with the French clubs! :)

Actually, when I think about it, I find a league with Leicester, Bath, Gloucester, Northampton along with the best French clubs intensely interesting! I seriously hope the RFU will try and push the Super10 idea now so the above named clubs can run form their (proper) Anglo-French League so we can finally have some interesting Rugby in England now!
I think everyone is overracting here just a tad. We in the UK tend to think that something proposed or predicted to happen in three or four years is going to happen tomorrow as an inevitable fact.

However, the clubs are powerful enough to protect their own vested interests, either through pursuading the RFU at the vital moment during the consultation period, or by enacting yet another 18 month paralysis of bickering and back biting, similar to what we saw between 2004-2006.
Hang about, why do they have a "Richmond" franchise rather than just reusing Harlequins?

I think to be honest, Richmond would just rename themselves "Harlequins" anyway, so thats at least one team that would survive the chop.
surely this is just a wind-up or a massive exaguration by some journo.

It simply can't happen....it's the worst idea anyone's ever had. ever.
I think it must be emphasised that this is just one idea out of many being brought up here.

I think the RFU asked the management consultants to "think up ANY scenario" that could be put to consultation.

So most likely, you are going to have anything between three and twenty different ways of reforming the game put before us.
Utterly ridiculous idea, destroying the history of the game and clubs that have been the foundation for any international success, it really does make you wonder how these gimps get in charge of running the game in England.

I can understand the point that the RFU want to have more control of the clubs to benefit the national team, fair enough, but to destory the clubs in the process isn't the way to go about it. The RFU are supposed to be the richest of the unions so why not buy out the owners and create a ringfence with two divisions, that way they can protect the international players from burnout and keep the clubs intact. There probably isn't the money to do that but it would have to be better than simply getting rid of clubs and creating soulless franchises.
If it's going to be done then they need a southwest team and possibly a Brum one. Scrap the anglo-welsh malarkey and there you have it. The right number of teams playing a manageable number of games.

The thing is imagine cutting adrift some of your most historic clubs just 'cause they don't fit into the current plan.....kind of what Rob & The Ringfencers were hoping to do to the rest of us.
Thats what is so baffling about it. I mean, fair enough ditch Northampton because they smell of wee anyway but... ack! *gets pelted with rotten fruit and veg*...

Okay keep Northampton but its retarded how the consultants have just decided to ditch 250 years of club rugby (even going so far as to more or less rename Harlequins as "Richmond") in order to 'change'.

Like with all shite in British politics which makes sure that within 50 years we'll be the peoples republic of BRIT, this is just change for changes sake :(
Surely it's a scare tactic...
If I were a fan, player or management/owner I'd be a bit more willing to negotiate knowing that the guys running the RFU are officially crazy.
Maybe, but you have to temper the "craziness" of the RFU and Premier Rugby with "abject stupidity" and "the British tradition of shooting oneself in the foot."
The Problem being is that they dont like it how they havent got control of the elite rugby teams in the country and this is now there way of gaining control of the club vs country row that has been blazing for the past couple of years...

The only way forward for English Club/International Rugby is for investment in the National Leagues, it is one of the most poorly run competions in the world and in serious need of investment...

The RFU should really Invest in developing the National League and making it more competitive and more opportunities for teams from National League 1 to compete with the big boys in the premiership... this would help us develop a better international squad as well....
The Red Baron distances himself from the allegations.

Baron said: "I was flabbergasted [when he read the story]. It was a combination of anger, frustration and disappointment, because the article was nonsense.

"For anyone to consider scrapping Northampton and giving a franchise to Bedford, scrapping Leicester and giving a franchise to Coventry, awarding a franchise to Richmond, who don't have any facilities, when we have Harlequins just down the road, it just made no sense." [/b]
thats bullshit, if they want to make the league better have the teams run by owners who pump money into it, not have the bullshit RFU fund it
thats bullshit, if they want to make the league better have the teams run by owners who pump money into it, not have the bullshit RFU fund it

and refuse the money received from the RFU.
Privatise all the team so they have some great name like "The Saracen Black Rhino's With A Poacher's Shackle Around One Of It's Ankles". Oh and the replay must be called the "Drink A Guiness For A Refresingly Wonderfuly Orgasmic Time Replay"
Privatise all the team so they have some great name like "The Saracen Black Rhino's With A Poacher's Shackle Around One Of It's Ankles". Oh and the replay must be called the "Drink A Guiness For A Refresingly Wonderfuly Orgasmic Time Replay"
That's how we roll in the US.
Bank of America Stadium this, Home Depot Center that, and a splash of Playboy's Busty Vixen's Los Angeles Lakers. Okay the last one was fictitional, but they seriously do take all of our hallowed grounds and bastardize them with corporate names, and on the tv it's always the "FedEx halftime show", or "American Express Instant Replay presented by American Express."

Latest posts