Championship Clubs question RFU commitment


/*The following release has been collectively issued by the 12 teams in the 2012/13 RFU Championship*/

After three years of Championship Rugby, the teams who make up the second tier of the English game have today confirmed that they are in dispute with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) over the level of funding that individual clubs receive.

In 2008 the RFU decided that the then First Division Rugby (FDR) would be reduced from 16 clubs down to 12. Despite the majority of FDR clubs rejecting the proposals, they were imposed with immediate effect for the 2009/10 season.

Ever since the new structure was introduced, Championship clubs have expressed their concern at the lack of additional funding despite a guarantee from the RFU that additional monies would be put in place up until the 2015/16 campaign should the clubs comply with the required EQP players scheme which they have.

However, these reassurances have not been fulfilled and each Championship club is running at an estimated deficiency of £77,000 over the first three seasons as a result. Championship clubs have continued to try and negotiate a deal but the latest 'offer' from the RFU would see Championship clubs missing out on a further £120,000 over the next four seasons.

Speaking about the dispute, Chairman of the Championship clubs Geoff Irvine said: "All of the clubs in the Championship are busily preparing for the new season but we are being constantly hampered by the RFUs refusal to deliver what they promised. Every club in the league has embraced the format in spite of the concerns that were allayed prior to its inception and everybody can see the impact that the Championship has on Premiership and International rugby.

"No one would argue the fact that playing standards have risen and that the dual registration scheme has proven a success with many Premiership teams clambering at the opportunity of their youngsters playing in such a demanding environment.

"What is of particular concern to the clubs though is that the RFU refuses to fulfil its responsibilities to the Championship when it 'owns' the competition. You would have thought that the RFU would want to further improve both the playing standards and the facilities and use the Championship to continue the development of officials and coaches.

"Unfortunately, the RFU has not kept the promises that it made and if we want to see standards improve then we need to have a commitment that is honoured."

The contribution made by Championship clubs is unquestionable with a recent survey revealing that 29 per cent of England Squad players and 35 per cent of all Aviva Premiership Players had once played in the Championship.

This revelation was strengthened by the fact that more than half (55 per cent) of the Harlequins squad that was crowned Aviva Premiership Champions last season had also featured in the Championship. A similar percentage of the Under 20 squad that represented England in the recent Junior World Cup in South Africa were currently playing in the Championship.


Notes to Editor:

The Championship Clubs currently consist of 12 Clubs: Bedford, Bristol, Doncaster, Jersey, Moseley, London Welsh*, London Scottish, Leeds, Nottingham, Rotherham, Cornish Pirates, and Plymouth. All clubs are in total support of their current stance.

*London Welsh are currently appealing against the decision that they have failed to meet the criteria to enter into the Premiership after winning the Championship in the 2011/12 season. If this appeal is successful, Newcastle would be relegated into the Championship.

Geoff Irvine - Chairman of Bedford Rugby is the elected Chairman of Championship Rugby.

The Championship was formed in the 2009/10 season. The previous season 2008/9 - the Championship was First Division Rugby and consisted of 16 clubs.

The Championship was formed to create a second professional league in support of the Premiership and the development of young English qualified players. 

For more information please contact Geoff Irvine, Chairman of Bedford Rugby.

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