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RFU Plan

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RFU Plan Empty RFU Plan

Post by No 7&1/2 Fri Dec 22, 2023 9:38 am

Probably sits a bit between the club and international boards so change things around mods if you prefer.

'English rugby's powerbrokers have announced plans to revitalise the game in England after admitting they have "failed miserably" when it comes to developing young talent.

As part of a landmark new partnership, the Rugby Football Union plans to create a revamped second tier from the 2025-2026 season.

This new league could give Wasps, London Irish, Worcester and Jersey Reds a lifeline to return to professional rugby.

"We want - and should be - world-leading at all levels," said the RFU's Conor O'Shea.

"This is a huge opportunity for us to shape the game for years to come."

Among the other proposals drawn up by the governing bodies as part of the new Professional Game Partnership [PGP]:

Around 25 elite England players to receive hybrid or "enhanced "contracts, giving the RFU closer control over player workload, with improved Individual Development Plans [IDPs].
Slimmed-down Premiership squads of around 35 senior players, supported by a dozen or so Academy players, to prevent clubs 'warehousing' talent.
A centralised and standardised strength and conditioning database to allow better collaboration between the clubs and national sides.
A "consistent and regular" programme of England 'A' matches, including a tour in the summer of 2025.
By slimming-down senior squad sizes at Premiership clubs as well as establishing a vibrant second-tier league, the RFU hopes to establish a more efficient structure that provides younger players with more opportunities to play and develop.

"Talent ID is not about spotting talent. It is about giving talent opportunity, and it is where English rugby has failed miserably," explained O'Shea.

"If you don't give players the right and appropriate game-time, they will never reach the ceiling they can.

"Our job is to create that system that almost enforces game-time."

'Why would you not want those brands in your league?'
The revamped Championship - provisionally labelled as 'Premiership II" - will give Wasps, London Irish, Worcester and Jersey Reds an opportunity to return to professional rugby without starting at the bottom of the RFU pyramid.

The four clubs all dropped out of the leagues after going out of business, but the RFU will shortly invite "expressions of interest" from clubs to join "Premiership II". The selection process will commence at the start of 2024 and will conclude in June.

A set of minimum standards, for example over ground capacity, growth potential, and strength of playing squad, are currently being discussed. Wasps have already signalled their intention to re-establish themselves in Kent.

However this "franchise" model has been met with resistance by the current Championship clubs, who have argued all places in the new league should be achieved on merit.

O'Shea says the existing Championship clubs will be given first refusal to apply for a place in the new division, but an ambition to want to eventually gain promotion to the Premiership will be a pre-requisite of entry.

"Promotion and relegation is a key part of the whole sporting landscape in England," said O'Shea.

"We believe [places in the league] should be an expression of interest which is open to all, to make it the best and most sustainable league with the best teams.

"We'll set a bar which is not unattainable, and [the Championship clubs] will be part of setting that new minimum operating standard, then they can look at it and say: 'We are in' or 'we are out.'"

Steve Diamond, the former Worcester and Sale boss who is working for the RFU as a consultant, added: "If those clubs [Wasps, Worcester and London Irish] manage to look after their rugby creditors, and do everything within the legal terms with their administrators, then why would you not want those brands in your league?"

Enhanced contracts to give Borthwick more 'influence and control'
With 85% of revenues driven by the England men's senior team, the RFU say the success of Steve Borthwick's side "is paramount to the health and sustainability of rugby in England".

A new contract model has been drawn up, which the RFU hopes will lead to better collaboration between England and the clubs and will give Borthwick more control when it comes to a player's conditioning and medical support.

As part of the PGP with the Premiership clubs, Borthwick will be able to select approximately 50 players in his elite squad, with around 25 of them being part of the "Enhanced Elite Player Squad."

In a departure from the current structure, which sees players paid a salary by their clubs and a match-fee by the RFU, players in the Enhanced EPS will receive a payment of around £150,000 a year from the RFU, with the club paying a salary on top of that. Each player will also be put on an Individual Development Plan, or IDP.

O'Shea says this will allow Twickenham more "influence and control" in certain areas when the player is on club duty, such as medical and conditioning, although final decisions on selection will stay with the club director of rugby.

"The old Professional Game Agreement was about paying extra money for additional weeks of access to players," explained RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.

"This is very different. What we are paying for is a much more direct control and oversight for a core group of players.

"The previous [deal], the one word was 'access'. This one is about control and development."

RFU 'to review care for players'
O'Shea also says the governing body will look to review and improve the support for players after Owen Farrell's surprise decision to step back from international rugby.

The former skipper announced in November he would be unavailable for England for the 2024 Six Nations to protect his and his family's mental wellbeing.

England prop Kyle Sinckler has since called for more support for players from the game's authorities.

"Sometimes you don't need to be involved in any sport to see people who are really special and I hope he [Farrell] comes back refreshed," said O'Shea.

"We just want to support him and all the time are looking to improve the wrap-around care for players. That is the most important thing.

"It is getting more and more difficult and febrile to operate in some of these environments so it is something we need to look at really carefully to make sure we are best in class when it comes to that."'

Be interesting to see if the 25 contracts and stopping players being 'warehoused' mean that we could see some encouraged, or simply moved to new clubs. Great to see regular A game matches back and the push from O'Shea that younger players should be being given game time by their clubs rather than being held back by average players.

I am surprised that the plan to allow Borthwick to implement positional changes has been put aside.

No 7&1/2

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Post by Recwatcher16 Fri Dec 22, 2023 11:35 am

The RFU have been dragged into this approach by other Unions ditching their domestic leagues and wrapping their best players in cotton wool so that they are pretty much always fit and available for test rugby and the biggest club games in international franchises competitions.They are not really leagues because there is no jeopardy.

It will be interesting to see how premiership players over a season react to it, as whilst the test players are generally a pretty humble bunch, to be seen as having special treatment will grate eventually.

The other side of the coin is French domestic rugby with a massive TV deal and clubs with no stadia capital costs, enabling huge budgets for squads of players.

So the RFU has been caught between two stools and their response is somewhere between the two. At the end of the day if there is increased exposure for Premiership ll clubs then that can only be a good thing.

The RFU union is supposed to be responsible for the whole game and whilst I get the focus on top clubs as they ultimately feed into the test side and the cash cow, the balance however has been too skewed. Perhaps will still remain so but at least there is a recognition that rugby exist outside a handful of fully professional clubs.


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Post by mountain man Fri Dec 22, 2023 12:05 pm

I'd also like to see an initiative to give best young upcoming talent more encouragement to stay within English game. Be it financial as well as coaching etc.

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