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The RFU Championship & Leedshire Carnegie

Rinkadink

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So I've been sat on this a while and I think it's time we all started talking about it as it's not getting enough coverage in the rugby media nor discussed amongst rugby people. For a some background Leeds Carnegie (formerly Leeds Tykes, formerly Headingly and Roundhay) have been involved with tier 1 and tier 2 of English rugby for the past 20 years or so. Around 5 years ago (during their longest stint in T2) Leeds Carnegie controversially renamed themselves Yorkshire Carnegie (after the county) in spite of two other teams other than themselves also residing in Yorkshire (Rotherham and Doncaster). County rugby is also still played in England albeit not having the same status as it once did.

Fast forward a few years and the deal with Carnegie University who was sponsoring them to the tune of £1million per year is due to end. Many people expected this to impact the premiership aspiring outfit significantly yet the sounds coming out the club indicated otherwise. During the previous 18-19 season, Yorkshire Carnegie (whom I shall refer to as Leedshire from hereon out) found themselves adrift at the bottom of the RFU Championship at Christmas. A new low as such. Their plan? Raid the southern hemisphere, particularly Mitre10 cup players and by retaining their place in the Championship save the half a million pounds of central funding from the RFU which all T2 clubs get (I believe the funding is £80,000 or less if they drop into T3). It worked and Richmond were relegated from the league.

Here is where things get murkier. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that Leedshire were aware of their perilous financial situation as rumours were abound before the season's end. To make a long story short (I'll put links in for deeper reading later) Leedshire are right on the brink and are unable to fulfil player contracts, both of their new season-saving recruits and long standing players, coaches and backroom staff. Basically insolvent and facing expulsion from the league. All the staff and players contracts are essentially torn up and a mass exodus ensues. Leedshire with the apparent blessing of the RFU have entered into a CVA; https://www.therugbypaper.co.uk/dom...e-facing-oblivion-after-failure-to-pay-debts/

... which has subsequently been accepted. Now there's a precedent set with London Welsh who also ended up in a similar situation but did not receive similar treatment from the RFU and so found themselves way down the bottom of the league structure in an essentially amateur format. As of today, Saturday 3rd August 2019, Leedshire has officially appointed one Director of Rugby and signed the services of Joe Ford as a player-coach for the upcoming season which starts soon - 7 weeks left to sign an entire squad and staff to compete in a largely professional T2 league. There is also the issue of a 28 points deduction if all their creditors do not agree to the CVA in 6 days time. Rumour has it that there will be no relegation from the Championship this year as the premiership is looking to expand. The 28 points deduction proposed by the RFU that would normally see a side relegated is effectively meaningless if this is true.

What about Richmond? Well they aren't happy (along with most of the clubs in T2) and released a public statement on their website in the last week; https://richmondfc.co.uk/index.php/news/1129-statement-on-behalf-of-richmond-fc

Richmond are disappointed with the decision of the RFU Board that Yorkshire Carnegie can remain a Championship Club and will be seeking a review of that decision.

Richmond, as an interested party, has been in discussions with the RFU since April and were subsequently invited to make formal representations to the RFU board sub-committee considering the position. These representations were extensive. Richmond believe that Yorkshire Carnegie should be relegated from the Championship and that Richmond (who have remained financially solvent for many years) should be reinstated.

The reality is that Yorkshire Carnegie stand to suffer no sanction whatsoever as any potential points deduction is to all intents and purposes illusory. It arises only if a creditor refuses to sign up to their CVA and all have signed up already. Accordingly, it would appear that despite their dire financial position and the cancellation of contracts of players drafted in to rescue them from likely relegation, Yorkshire Carnegie remain a Championship Club.

Peter Moore, a director of Richmond, said “It cannot be in the best long-term interests of the Game that Clubs can run up debts of over £6m and cancel players’ contracts. We are very disappointed with the RFU decision, which we will ask to be reviewed”.

Pursuant to that process Richmond will be asking for full transparency and, in particular, to see the recommendations together with the written reasons that were made by the sub-committee to the RFU Board.

Peter Moore goes on to say “Despite our extensive submissions, all that we have seen is a brief RFU statement”. Richmond intend to make the application for the RFU’s decision to be reviewed early next week.
Within the past 24 hours players some have had enough and started making public the fallout from dealing with Leedshire, particularly this Twitter thread;

https://twitter.com/danieltemm3/status/1157377902079565824?s=20

I find it truly unbelievable that
@carnegierugby
are able to sign a guy like
@_JoeyFord
with premiership credentials. They have players who they signed and moved their families across the country and the world who have received 15 pence to the pound on agreed contracts! We now1/2

Have players who played 30 games for the club last year who are now receiving personal medical bills from companies as the club is not willing to cover Xrays and MRIs that were undergone by players on recommendations and necessity from the clubs medical staff.

I think there is about 15 boys with letters and emails the same as these. I played 22 league games, 8 cup games and 2 pre season games and no am paying for my own X-Rays.
@theRPA
@EnglandRugby
In the Twitter thread players are being threatened with debt collectors as Leedshire are refusing to pay for treatment they ordered and would ordinarily pay for. Unfortunately this has taken longer to type from mobile than I'd have liked and have other commitments so will have to finish another time. With that said I would also like to quickly discuss an issue which has been overlooked in this saga by nearly all parties.

Leedshire sold their P shares in Premiership Rugby to Exeter Chiefs around 2012 if my memory serves me correctly. The valuation at the time was around £5million. This was allegedly ring-fenced off from the day-to-day operating of Leedshire. Indeed, as posted on their website;

all the proceeds from the sale will be ring fenced and kept until such time as we return to the top flight when the money will be used to buy back our P shares. Without the shareholding, it makes it extremely difficult to gain parity with the other teams in the Premiership and for our long term future we must retain the ability to buy back the P shares.
https://www.yorkshirecarnegie.com/n...-regarding-sale-of-p-shares-to-exeter-chiefs/

What happened to this money? Surely the fans would not mind it being used to pay players? If it's gone, where did it go and when? This question has yet to be answered.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Apparently we've got a deal with Leeds to basically give them our academy next season so they have enough players to field a team

It's a crazy situation and appointing Joe Ford as head coach, who has never coached a side before, is a massive hail Mary. I imagine they're hoping he's got his dad on speed dial
 

Rinkadink

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Apparently we've got a deal with Leeds to basically give them our academy next season so they have enough players to field a team

It's a crazy situation and appointing Joe Ford as head coach, who has never coached a side before, is a massive hail Mary. I imagine they're hoping he's got his dad on speed dial
Also of note is that Leedshire have an RFU funded academy already and are in a targeted "expansion" area...
 

RedruthRFC

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Also of note is that Leedshire have an RFU funded academy already and are in a targeted "expansion" area...
Makes you wonder if the lenient treatment that they appear to be receiving is linked to this fact. According to a seemingly well informed poster from Exeter on another forum which I think I recognise your moniker from, the club spend about the same amount out of their own pocket that they receive from the RFU in funding. If this is what it takes to run a successful academy, it calls into question whether a penny leaking club should have an academy at all. Saying that, I don't know where else you could put it and retain the geographical spread. Could be bad news for Sale FC if Leeds have the first pick of Sale DRs.
 

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Makes you wonder if the lenient treatment that they appear to be receiving is linked to this fact. According to a seemingly well informed poster from Exeter on another forum which I think I recognise your moniker from, the club spend about the same amount out of their own pocket that they receive from the RFU in funding. If this is what it takes to run a successful academy, it calls into question whether a penny leaking club should have an academy at all. Saying that, I don't know where else you could put it and retain the geographical spread. Could be bad news for Sale FC if Leeds have the first pick of Sale DRs.
We don't send a massive amount to Sale FC, tbh - a few flit in and out during the year, but they're doing better off of our retirees (Dave Seymour, Neil Briggs, Johnny Leota all turning out for them) atm. I could see us sending a bunch off to Leeds on a full time season long deal and keeping the guys more likely to break into the first XV (wilkinson, warr etc.) in Salford to train with the firsts and then go to Sale FC for match fitness.
 

RedruthRFC

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We don't send a massive amount to Sale FC, tbh - a few flit in and out during the year, but they're doing better off of our retirees (Dave Seymour, Neil Briggs, Johnny Leota all turning out for them) atm. I could see us sending a bunch off to Leeds on a full time season long deal and keeping the guys more likely to break into the first XV (wilkinson, warr etc.) in Salford to train with the firsts and then go to Sale FC for match fitness.
Looking at how Sale FC finished up last season, I guess my info was out of date - I had the impression that Sharks wanted FC in the Championship. Maybe gaining promotion from N1 turned out to be trickier than was assumed or maybe plans have changed.

Having done a bit of reading elsewhere, I've read a suggestion that Leeds no longer have an academy and that the RFU have taken responsibility for running it.

To add to everything reported above, it appears that they are now causing bad feeling up north my attempting to tap up players already contracted to other clubs for the next season - something that contravenes RFU regulations and that the RFU are ignoring reports of.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Looking at how Sale FC finished up last season, I guess my info was out of date - I had the impression that Sharks wanted FC in the Championship. Maybe gaining promotion from N1 turned out to be trickier than was assumed or maybe plans have changed.
Think that's still the plan, but more organically rather than parachuting lads in for one season.
We do loan them academy players but also help out a lot with coaching and analysis etc.
Grow the club rather than a flash in the pan kinda thing
 

Rinkadink

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I heard the same regarding the academy, perhaps Doncaster will be interested? They're a well run club and in time could grace the premiership. I believe planning would be approved but it's a case of them not wanting to over-extend and not receiving equal funding if they were promoted.

RFU should be ashamed right now and offering to pay player medical bills is the very least they could do. I don't see how they can claim to have player welfare at heart after this (If it wasn't clear already)
 

RedruthRFC

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The post about academy funding from an Exeter supporter who seemed well informed is going back a few years (maybe as many as 10). IIRC, the RFU paid £250k towards an academy and Exeter were putting in an additional £250k to run it as they wished. I can't see Doncaster being in a position to dip their hands in their pockets on that scale, although if the RFU are funding 100% at the moment, I guess anything would be better than nothing. On reflection, it's a raw deal for any long term Championship club running an academy - academy credits are worthless to them and your chances of keeping any of the top talent you develop are slim.

Re: the players' medical bills, I would have no problem with the RFU not putting their hands in their pockets unless they have defaulted on any responsibility to ensure that insurance was being paid, but as things stand, they will shortly be chucking half a million quid or so to an organisation who have shown themselves to be financially (and morally) irresponsible. Any outstanding payments to players should come out of this sum first IMO. My question on the whole player mess would be where are the RPA in all of this? I don't think I've heard them mentioned once in all the articles and forum posts I've read on this subject.

@TRF_Olyy good to hear about the approach being taken with Sale FC. It will win more friends than Hartpury's approach and yield greater long term benefits.
 

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I heard the same regarding the academy, perhaps Doncaster will be interested? They're a well run club and in time could grace the premiership. I believe planning would be approved but it's a case of them not wanting to over-extend and not receiving equal funding if they were promoted.

RFU should be ashamed right now and offering to pay player medical bills is the very least they could do. I don't see how they can claim to have player welfare at heart after this (If it wasn't clear already)
Doncaster should have an academy, and have the South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas. Bring them into the Premiership alongside Newcastle for 14 teams and a good geographical split. Leeds could still have an academy for North, East and West Yorkshire, with the idea that if the Premiership expanded to 15-16 teams they would be adding another region. Obviously only if they are financially secure.
 

RedruthRFC

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Apparently the medical bills have been settled by an anonymous donor. To be fair to Leedshire, they wouldn't have been able to prioritise these payment over others even if they wanted to given their current financial situation. Apparently the bills amounted to less than £2k across 12 players which seems stupidly low, so maybe they represent an excess and they players were properly insured (contrary to suggestions elsewhere).
 

Rinkadink

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As the world cup has been on and my club have started their pre-season fixtures I missed that Leedshire played their first RFU Championship Cup game vs Nottingham. Tom Varndell and loan players from the likes of Barf were included in the team overseen by player/coach Joe Ford. The score? 83 - 0 to Nottingham who are a mid table second tier club side. 42 conceded in first half and a second half turn of fortune saw the guests do slightly better conceding only 41.

Premiership cup round two they went down to Cornish Pirates 0 - 48 so I guess you could say they're improving though I don't know if Pirates put out a more experimental side or any other details. Considering the considerable RFU money being chucked at them to not score a single point in 160+ minutes against not even the strongest sides in Tier 2 is very troubling. I feel for Richmond who probably consider themselves pretty hard done by right now.

@RedruthRFC do you know any more about the Pirates match?
 

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I hope they get themselves sorted. Not even competing in the games so far.
 

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@RedruthRFC do you know any more about the Pirates match?
There's been a fair turnover of players for Pirates as they look to strengthen in anticipation of a push for the holy land, not that my finger was that close to the pulse anyway, so I'm not sure how close to full strength the Pirates team was. There were a few names in the side that I think of as first choice, conversely Brett Beukeboom was on the bench, so guess was that it was "medium strength". At this stage of the season, I suspect that the team themselves or their supporters wouldn't be too clear on the first choice side. Maybe @FLOBALOB can offer more insight.

Apparently Leeds' team contained 9 changes from the one that played the previous week, including a first start for Joe Ford, so there's every chance that it was stronger than the last iteration. It looks to me like Mike Ford has had his rolodex out - the names wheeled in look like former EAPs, league players and Premiership loanees. Even if these kind of CVs are enough to give them a talent pool on a par with some of the weaker Championship teams, it remains to be seen if they can be turned in to a rugby team in time to avoid the drop.
 

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@Rinkadink I just took a look over a thread on another forum about Leeds, but am not much the wiser. What I can surmise:

- Nobody knows where the money is coming from for the new signings.
- Lots of people who know more about The Championship than me don't rate the quality of the new signings at all.
- Most expect the current squad to be heavily augmented by by loan / DR signings in order to try and pick up enough points for survival. (known as "doing a Hartpury").
- The players are yet to see anything out of the CVA.
- The club has received no sanction from the RFU for their mismanagement.

It appears that there is no incentive to live within your means and run as a viable club in The Championship, or indeed to run your club honorably. I hope we won't see another club like Richmond, who cut their cloth according to their budget and ran as a proper rugby club pushed aside in favour of another glorified Premiership A-League team with few of the qualities celebrated about rugby clubs.
 

Rinkadink

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I thought the CVA money had been given to players now after a delay, sure I read that somewhere. Unless this is new and concerns other players?

I'm actually okay with what Hartpury did, it was well within the rules and other clubs like Bedford have been doing it for years at the other end of the table plus I recall Jersey and Pirates amongst others having numerous dual registered players. It might be a means to get the championship up to a decent standard in the future too, nothing is stopping other clubs doing the same and is above board. Leedshire is quite different both morally and legally, I'm surprised this has all flown under the radar so much.
 

RedruthRFC

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I thought the CVA money had been given to players now after a delay, sure I read that somewhere. Unless this is new and concerns other players?
It might well have been by now, I'm just going by what I read in a thread in another forum. They may well have been paid, but nobody in theat thread has mentioned it.

I'm actually okay with what Hartpury did, it was well within the rules and other clubs like Bedford have been doing it for years at the other end of the table plus I recall Jersey and Pirates amongst others having numerous dual registered players. It might be a means to get the championship up to a decent standard in the future too, nothing is stopping other clubs doing the same and is above board. Leedshire is quite different both morally and legally, I'm surprised this has all flown under the radar so much.
As you say Hartpury didn't do anything against the competition regulations, but my problem lies with those regulations. Previously in The Championship, DRs allowed clubs to strengthen their squads and to maintain a big enough squad for the competition within budget while getting game time for promissing younger players. The RFU's changes courtesy of Nigel Melville's go far to far and enable clubs with the right connections to field an ever changing Barbarians side without the hastle of building a squad of their own players. This is against the spirit of league and indeed club rugby. All of the hard work done at Richmond to climb back up through the leagues from the very bottom, living within their means and building incrementally has been trumped overnight by one rule change that means a team whose biggest asset appears to be their list of contacts. IIRC, it used to be capped at 4 players in a match day squad. That number is about right to me.

I don't think that there's a comparison to the other sides you've mentioned. Pirates don't take that many players (tops of 6 I'd have thought) and they tend of be season long. It's a far cry from the rotating door policy at Hartpury.
 
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