The 11 Championship clubs came together today to debate their collective future: whether our league will be best served by capitalising on the potential of its commercial rights and its brand–identity to underpin a truly “whole-game solution” to tier two, or by considering a putative “Premiership 2” based on a franchise model.
The clubs agreed unanimously that they are opposed to the franchise model.
This was concluded against the backdrop of:
The Championship clubs also agreed that they would continue discussions with the RFU while simultaneously exploring concrete ways of strengthening our existing league.
Our aim is to sustain a second tier of English rugby that adheres to the following principles:
We hope and expect that the Rugby Football Union will wish to continue to support our league as part of a whole-game approach to solving the sport’s challenges. This league, as its principles make clear, will fulfil vital roles in the development of the game in England. It would, if permitted, also continue to act as a connecting bridge between the Premiership, the England national set-up and the rest of the sport at National League and all other levels.
We believe this is the only sustainable way forward. It ensures the integrity and the competitive heartbeat of our sport. It will be the best guarantee available for the success of future efforts to improve the quality of play and the quantity of participation, from top to bottom, of English rugby.
On the vexed matter of Promotion and Relegation, we will always believe in the right of the best to rise to the top. At present, the well-identified barriers put in our way make this a pipe–dream, but we will work unceasingly to challenge and correct this.
Along with other observers, we have toacknowledge the position in which the Premiership finds itself, and we all have to find a sustainable way forward. For the National Leagues and below, we would welcome the competition that our vision of the future guarantees, a future based on on-field success.
Having agreed these principles, the Championship clubs have authorised the Executive of the Championship to go ahead with the production of a comprehensive plan for our continuing league, to be presented to other stakeholders in the game as soon as practicable.
We fully appreciate the consequential effects of our decision to reject a franchise system. However, we feel certain that we have taken account of all the key components that can form a successful and sustainable recovery of rugby in this country, at least as far as it concerns the elements of the future that we can influence.