Rebel league on the cards?

The winds of change sweeping across rugby in the Southern Hemisphere are now threatening to gust through England.

The Daily Mail claims to be in possession of minutes from a meeting of the chairmen of England’s Premier Rugby League (PRL) clubs which reveal discussions about breaking away from England Rugby (the RFU) to form an independent league.

The issue of contention is the RFU’s refusal to do away with the Premiership’s current relegation system.

“If the RFU were to be unwilling to support change, we shall need to ensure access to match officials and player insurance cover (as this is a joint policy), as this would potentially become an unregulated competition,” said one of the minutes.

The Daily Mail claims that “sources” have written off the possibility of a rebel league, but the pending financial injection of more than £200m (R3.5bn) by the PRL’s new equity partners has motivated the clubs to aggressively campaign for an end to the “commercial hindrance” posed by annual relegation.

This follows the fault lines formed in the Sanzaar alliance by South Africa’s decision to enter two teams into the Pro14.

An expanded Pro12 welcomed the Cheetahs and Southern Kings in August last year as SA Rugby began building a bridge to European rugby and, as speculated by some pundits, away from Super Rugby.

It’s highly unlikely that South Africa would ever turn its back on the famous regional competition which features New Zealand’s top talent. But it’s clear that rugby’s established governing bodies are going to have to start doing more than shrug their shoulders when stakeholders demand change.

— Staff Writer

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer

Let's chat

  • Barry

    The underlying issue is that the Clubs and in the case of SA, the Unions, take all the risk, but are dictated to by Amateurish Administrators, who are short term office bearers and carry no risk! The French Clubs are more radical in their position of Independance and are probably leading the way for other Nations!

    Quite simply, the parties taking the financial risk should be making the decisions, but how do you fire the “gravy train”?

    • Sharky

      Fair enough, but we have to guard against the situation they have in football where the clubs have control of the players and national teams are seen as being of secondary importance. Representing your country should be the pinnacle and as such players should never be pressured to turn their back on their countries. In any event, clubs know that if they’re forking out big bucks for the best players in the world it is very likely that those best players will also be representing a country somewhere. That, as known factor, should be baked into whatever price they are willing to pay for that player.

      • SweetAz

        Sharky, whilst you make a good point the genie is already out of the bottle as evidenced by 400 professional SA players being lured to clubs. I think we need to make our peace with it and start to follow elite clubs instead of National Sides. For example, MAN U, Liverpool, etc etc will never be dictated to by the government as to who they can pick. This is particularly appropriate in SA where you have government interference. I for one would rather support ANY South African Franchise which comes out and says they will not be dictated to by a government to apply racist “transformation” policies and picks whoever they want to. Elite Clubs have far more money than what the National Unions have because they have a commercially successful model,—people will pay to watch the best team. If for example The Sharks come out and do this, and start winning Super Rugby because of it I don’t think any supporter would give a damn if none of their players play for the Boks.

        And SARU would start to look pretty stupid when Clubs are stronger than the National Union making them largely irrelevant.—It may be the only way to get rid of the parasites that are wagging the dog.

        • Sharky

          You raise some interesting points. I am also totally against quotas – not because I’m a racist bastard but because it only harms black players. I’ve said many time before that due to the quota system a black player has too keep on proving himself because as soon as his form drops he risks being seen as a quota selection. A white player in the same situation is just simply a poor selection.

          A few years back I aired a radical solution to government interference in SA rugby – SARU moving their headquarters to London (or some other non-SA city) and then selecting whoever they damned-well please. The SA government would not be able to dictate to them if they weren’t based in SA. But this would also lead to discussions about whether a government is required to endorse a team to allow them to play in competitions like the RWC? And could the government prevent such a team from playing on SA soil?

      • Richard Lishman

        Spot on Sharky!! I also feel there is a big change in how supporters are feeling nowdays, every year you have to sit down and study who is playing for your province as it changes dramatically. I have become totally nutural.

      • Barry

        Agreed Sharky, a difficult one! To my mind the only way around this would be a global season. We are seeing an increasing number of players putting their Clubs interests ahead of National selection, quite simply because they have a fixed commitment of employment from their club, but National selections come with no firm commitments at all – here today gone tomorrow! Jan Serfontein is the most recent example, by making himself unavailable for 2018 season, as confirmed by Erasmus!

        • Dean Bright

          Yes but our unions are funded by SARU so won’t happen until there is private ownership.

          • Barry

            Agreed Dean, but SARU merely act as a conduit between the sponsors and the Unions. The Unions and the sponsors are essential components, but SARU not so much!

Comments are closed.