We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the many webinars and surveys we have been conducting on the future competition structure (English Club Championship Level 3 and below) over the last 12 months.
There has been positive momentum in the most recent survey conducted over the summer, as well as some areas of concern being highlighted that we will be looking at in more detail. As Covid-19 restrictions are still with us, and we are uncertain of the timing of the 20/21 season, we have taken the decision to move the Council vote on future competition structure to 27 November (with a decision also at that meeting around the timeframes for implementation). At that point we would hope to have more clarity on the 20/21 season, and the additional time will also allow us to review and consult further on elements of detail.
The key high level findings from the most recent survey conducted over the summer found there is:
• Strong support from players to the overall plan, with particular reference to the proposed reduction in league size supporting a better work-life balance, the minimisation of travel requirements, the introduction of league break weekends and an end of season national knockout/cup offer.
• Support from non-players to the overall plan, though not as strong as players, with some concern about reduction in league sizes and perceived effect this could have on club revenues
The majority of people agree that we have a significant opportunity for rugby to develop in order to provide an optimal playing offer and structure that protects the future health of the adult male game while meeting the needs of current and future players. Players are looking for a balance of quality of experience, welfare needs and less travel. Meanwhile, we must also ensure we protect the sustainability of clubs.
Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director said: “We would like to thank everyone who has provided valuable input into the review process over the last year. We know from participation trends and data that players are playing less fixtures each season and are choosing to play fewer matches for a number of lifestyle reasons. Demands on players’ time through changing socio-economic factors is not the same as it was 20 years ago and our current playing offer puts pressure on players and clubs to fulfil fixtures, undermining the sustainability of the game. The increased number of players often required to sustain a first XV can also restrict clubs’ capacity to run additional sides – a concern for the long term health of our game.
“The most recent survey results are interesting and provide useful insights. Given the volume of input received, we will take more time to consider the proposals and how we can incorporate your valuable feedback as we want to ensure that the final decision made on the adult male competition structure serves the interests of all of our players and clubs and underpins our game for the future.”
You can read a more detailed summary of responses, separated by player and non-player feedback (non-player refers to coaching staff and club officials
The plan and the most recent survey followed engagement with the game and evidence collection over the past 12 months. The results from the Future Competition Structure Survey conducted in February 2020 and the plan are available below