News 2011-12

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

"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

*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

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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Why not come and chillout in the ‘Watering Hole’ before the game? A full-bar and food is available and you can enjoy some live music after the game.