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Topic ClosedThe Way Forward

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Way Forward
    Posted: 25 May 2007 at 07:37

Having attended the final RFU Way Forward roadshow at Plymouth last night, there were a couple of nagging messages that I woke up to this morning:-


-         the idea that Premiership rugby cannot survive without security of tenure in the league to enable them to continue to make the requisite investment in stadia. This point appears to be the main tack of the club owners and appears to be finding a huge amount of sympathy with the RFU

-         that the RFU are rounded in a corner as far as Premiership rugby as their premier source of England players are concerned. The RFU financially cannot afford for there to be no Premiership since the revenue impact would be huge. The RFU have seen falling revenue streams since the last world cup. They believe that a strong Engand team is the key to reviving those income streams and that the key to a strong England team is meddling with the structure and organisation of something they call the elite game. No-one is sure that RFU structural changes will work, but there opinion from within the RFU that they have to do something. We do not know what the elite game is, they do not know what it is, but FDR appears to be very much on the periphery of it and as a consequence will suffer in any re-jig.

-         The continued reference to a two-tiered Division 1 and the RFU implication that there are those who aspire and those who happily  survive, which somewhat suggests that the RFU will do something to sate the top tier of FDR and leave the rest to muddle

-         That whilst many of the clubs within FDR appear to be vehemently opposed to structural changes that remove promotion / relegation and offer security of tenure, some are clearly not as opposed as others, particularly where they believe that there is an opportunity to sneak in before the door closes. It is this self-interest that the RFU will focus on and use to divide and ultimately drive through the structure that they want.

-         In terms of ground and stadia investment Exeter and Albion seem to be miles ahead of the other South West sides and as a consequence provide a huge problem for the RFU. It was especially pertinent that Albion are in the process of putting up a new 500 + stand, paid for out of trading, with the easy ability to extend, that proves that the financial model they have can work and can provide the infrastructure that the RFU seem to crave. Exeter’s facility needs no further explanation. The great point about this investment is that it places the RFU in a real difficulty with regards to structural changes and the award of franchises and filtering off the top tier of FDR, since who do they pick? Exeter have the best stadium, the best infrastructure links, the largest attendance and the best playing record over the last 10 years. Albion have the larger urban conurbation, are making the requisite investment and have a high profile ex-International coach, the Pirates are in Cornwall and appear to have a backer, akin to many of the Premiership sides keen to stick his hands in his pockets.

-         Someone said last night that it was a total fudge and I get the unnerving feeling that it is. Martyn Thomas seems genuine enough in terms of supporting FDR club concerns, but reality bites as far as revenue streams are concerned and fundamentally the RFU need to protect those. Terry Burwell from the nature of his presentation would appear to have a clear preference structurally and it definitely involves meddling and the money guy was quite clear when you unpicked him where the money issues were.


I fear Premier rugby will get what they want simply because without them the journey for the RFU would be incredibly painful and financially uncertain.
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Nottmrugbymad View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2007 at 09:24
Thank you for putting that up - very interesting.
All we can do at this stage is make sure everyone fills in the RFU reply forms or writes to the chairman to express their concerns.
Looks like there could be stormy waters ahead - I cannot see our clubs just meekly accepting being dumped.
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Devonforever View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2007 at 16:48
Thomas will drop everything at a stroke if he can get the RFU to run the top echelons and the English players.
For those who state it is obvious - look at how the Scots RFU screwed up, how the Welsh RFU seems in a state of permanent civil war and how some of the Irish provinces are draining the IRFU.
Centralisation is balls of the highest order. The argument is "we will save money etc etc" but five years down the road the start changing their tunes again.
The are all a bunch of self interested greedy cnuts who will drop the FDR as soon as possible if it served their interests to do so.
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Oliver Pint View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2007 at 18:39
It would be great if your comments were presented to the way forward group using the wording above :-)
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