Clubs lodge motion for Championship to be abolished

Alan Lawson, President of the SRU. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Alan Lawson, President of the SRU. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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SCOTTISH clubs have declared the new ‘championship’ tier of rugby a failure and produced a motion for the SRU’s forthcoming agm proposing a return to a national league structure.

The motion, to go before the agm at the end of June, calls for the Championship A and B divisions to be scrapped from season 2014-15, and a new “linear structure” introduced with the Premier One league remaining at the top but with the National League being re-named National One with National Two and Three falling below.

The proposal also calls for these divisions to be extended from ten to 12 teams, which would mean four nationwide leagues in total encompassing 46 clubs compared with the current structure of ten-team Premier and National leagues and then what was effectively an east-west split at championship level for the next 20 teams.

The current structure was agreed at last year’s agm after significant consultation across the country and represented a major change to Scottish rugby.

However, the championship clubs believe that, while the Premier One has proven to be a success, the next tier needs a bit of tinkering to improve competitiveness and re-widen the national.

The motion stated: “The [30] National and Championship Clubs are seen by many as the engine room of Scottish rugby. They are generally self-sufficient, relying on their youth systems to produce players, as they are not in a financial position to import players from abroad or offer financial inducements to other Scottish players to play for them.

“It is vital for the future of Scottish rugby that these clubs play in a strong competitive national environment, thus maximising their resources and facilities. It is well documented the number of players that have been provided from these clubs to the Edinburgh and Glasgow professional sides and also the academies.

“Future professional and international players must be allowed to compete in a league structure that ensures that they are exposed to the highest level of competition across all regions of Scotland.

“Players at this level express the desire to be allowed to compete against others from outwith their region and by doing so can gauge their ability and level of performance. The CCF [Championship Clubs Forum] have no issues with increased travel (if any) and have had discussions within their own clubs to this effect.

“These proposals would not affect the current ten-team structure of the premier league and promotion/relegation between the premier and national 1 would remain as the status quo.

“Having experienced the current pyramid system as the championship season draws to a close, the Championship A and B clubs are unanimous in their opinion that there is an urgent need to return to a linear league system.”

The agm will also witness a three-way battle for the vice-presidency of the SRU. Former Scotland and British and Irish Lions doctor Donald Macleod is expected to replace Alan Lawson as SRU president, leaving retiring Dundee director of rugby Ian Rankin to take on SRU board member Jock Millican and former SRU general committee and current council member Archie Ferguson to fill the vice-president seat.

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