SRU chief executive Mark Dodson believes there will be a “clamour” to join what he is convinced will be a successful Super 6 when it gets up and running the season after next.
Dodson was speaking at a BT Murrayfield press conference yesterday, which was attended by representatives of the six winning franchises – Ayr, Melrose, Stirling County, Heriot’s, Watsonians and Boroughmuir – and said he “felt the pain” of the six clubs who have missed out.
The chief executive exuded confidence that there would be scope for expansion within the initial five-year plan but stressed that the point of the project was to “crystallise” talent in the new part-time professional set-up in a compact competitive environment.
“We’ll take a view on that,” said Dodson when asked whether some of the clubs who missed out could aspire to making it a potential Super 8 at some point.
“I believe there will be a clamour to join Super 6 and a clamour to increase, but we can’t dilute the reason for doing this in the first place, which is the quality of play.
“If we have too many teams too quickly we may create a situation where the crystalisation of talent is diluted, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have a clamour of clubs looking for another application date before the five years is up.
“I’m not putting a timeframe on it. We will start the league and we’ll look at it, and I think there will be a clamour of people asking us to redress this, and when the time is right we will.”
Dodson was joined by SRU president Rob Flockhart and both were keen to contest suspicions that clubs have been railroaded in any way and both stressed that the new structure, which will see strictly amateur leagues below the Super 6, was a response to what clubs had been asking from the union.
Flockhart said: “The demand for a change of the Premiership came from the Premiership, the demand for an amateur charter came from National One, Two and Three.
“There will always be people who will be slightly opposed to it.
“For two years leading up to Mark’s presentation at last year’s AGM, there was consultation on virtually a weekly-fortnightly basis, with the fora, with club visit, with club conferences and with the president’s roadshows.
“And the demand for change was there – you can’t then stop change because some clubs don’t like it.”
Dodson added: “It’s not that questions haven’t been answered, it’s that some people don’t like the answer they are getting.”
On the reimposition of amateurism 23 years after the sport went open, Dodson said: “Overwhelmingly, clubs at every forum and every roadshow and every club conference have asked the president and asked the council and asked the board to introduce amateurism. Paying players is killing the game [at that level].
“What we have is money being paid to players who are never going to be part-time professional, never going to be at that standard, being paid with money which is being taken from the union.
“That money should be being spent on grassroots – volunteers and facilities. At the moment you have some clubs who have almost gone to the wall because they are paying players and distorting leagues.”
The lack of a franchise in Glasgow created the most headlines after the announcement of the six winning bids on Tuesday but there is a general and obvious geographical imbalance with the controversial inclusion of three Edinburgh teams.
It means there is no franchise north of the Forth and none in Scotland’s third and fourth biggest cities as well as the largest.
“We were disappointed we didn’t get a bid from Aberdeen,” said Dodson.
“Dundee came a bit late and probably needed a bit more time.
“We worked really hard with the University of Aberdeen and the clubs but there just wasn’t enough traction we could get up there, to get the people to come together and make a bid but we did work extremely hard.
“There was a letter of intent but it didn’t materialise into a bid.
“We have to look again at the strength of the game in Aberdeen and Dundee. I have to say the Dundee bid was extremely good.
“They worked extremely hard and I think they will have learned a lot of key lessons to take the game forward in that conurbation for sure.
“I think in Aberdeen we have a bit more work to do, trying to bring people together and make the game stronger there. There have been some problems the last couple of years in that neck of the woods.”