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Hamilton Rugby Club's view of League Structure proposal.

By Ross Whiteside

SRU League Structure Proposal to be voted on at SGM on the 22nd of March

You will all be watching the progress of the creation of the Super Six Rugby Teams and more importantly the speculation surrounding what affect it will have on clubs the likes of Hamilton.

Since the beginning of February we have been involved in discussions with the other National 1 Clubs regarding the McColl report into league structure and payment of players. This was based on a number of surveys sent out to clubs in three months prior to that. National 1 is in the centre of all the changes to league structure and is one of two leagues that are most affected by the creation of the Super Six teams.

As it stands the proposal is, that the top six teams in National 1 move to the Premiership at the end of this season, to join the four existing Clubs that do not have a Super Six contract. They will be replaced in National 1 by the six Club teams from the Super Six Clubs. It is also proposed that relegation and promotion will happen as it would have, between National 1 and National 2 at the end of this season.

The report also made a recommendation, that the game should be amateur below the Premiership within guidelines pertaining to legitimate expenses as agreed by most clubs as necessary for our sport. These cover elements such as post training food, physiotherapy provision, coaching provision, kit and legitimate travel.

The SRU council have proposed a motion that only covers the league structure and have not mentioned other half of the report’s recommendations on amateur rugby. This is because amateurism is currently a decision for the board and not under the remit of the clubs. This league structure proposal is to be put before the clubs at the SGM on the 22nd of March 2019.

There has been a lot of debate around why elements of the Super Six formation are still to be decided. Dual registration of players for example, would have an effect on teams with players dual registered with a super six team, as well as teams competing against them! This also raises the question of paid players playing in an amateur league? The majority of all National 1 Clubs are firmly opposed to dual registration of a Super Six player, at any level of the game below Super Six.

At Hamilton we believe that the recommendations have to be looked at as a whole, not as individual elements. How can we make a decision about accepting teams into our league, if we do not even know which players are going to be playing in those teams? Unfortunately this is not an option that is on the table at the moment!

We also want to avoid creating a scenario where there are super rugby hubs surrounding the Super Six Clubs. These hubs would suck up players who are unlikely to ever get a Super Six Contract but are still drawn to a club with that assumption. All that this would do is, eventually place the Super Six Club teams at the top of the amateur game because of the massive investment in their club. Monies, that could be argued, should be shared out among a larger pool of clubs that are driving the game forward in their region.

We will be watching closely what happens now and take interest in any amendments that might be proposed, especially from a very proactive National 1 forum. If required we will also be prepared to put our name to any amendment in order to protect the interests of Hamilton Rugby Club.

If the SGM does not reach a quorum, or the SRU Council’s proposal is not passed, or amended, then the Club teams of the Super Six clubs will remain in the Premiership and normal promotion and relegation will happen.

We will keep you abreast of any developments.

Ross Whiteside

Updated 10:08 - 23 Mar 2019 by Ross Whiteside

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