RFU scraps 'promotion-relegation'
BREAKING NEWS: The Rugby Football Union council approved a decision that there will be no relegation from the Premiership into the Championship at the end of the 2020-21 season.
There will also be no relegation from the Championship into National One.
Provided the winner of the 2020/21 Championship is eligible for promotion under the current Minimum Standards Criteria, the 2021/22 season to consist of 13 teams in the Premiership and 11 in the Championship.
Holistic new minimum standards on and off the pitch for promotion to the Premiership will be developed between now and the end of May 2021 with involvement and approval from Council which will be designed to promote sustainability in the professional game.
The RFU council on Friday cast a strong majority vote in favour of no relegation from the Premiership or the Championship for the 2020/21 season.
Council members considered the impact COVID-19 has had on all areas of the game, including the earlier decision to suspend promotion and relegation in the community game and the Premiership cancelling a significant number of matches in the 2020/21 season. These cancellations have resulted in a material impact on league positions which could mean relegation based on cancellation not on field merit.
Over the next four months the RFU, Premiership Rugby and Championship representatives will work on recommendations for changes to the season structures for 2021/22 and beyond for both the Premiership and Championship.
It is hoped that proposals will include a different approach to promotion and relegation from the Premiership. The aim will be to retain the ambition of clubs in the Championship and below and to continue to allow a route to promotion to the Premiership. New minimum standard criteria, investment in facilities and club funding will be discussed. The domestic calendar will be reviewed, which will also allow additional preparation time for the England senior men’s team ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023.
Player welfare will be central to the proposals and the RPA will be consulted on the development of season structures. It is likely that any season structures may also include a further moratorium on promotion and relegation for three or four seasons, after which the structure will be subject to further review. Those proposals would be subject to a vote of the RFU Council before the end of the 2020/21 season.
“The RFU Council has taken time to understand and discuss all the factors regarding no relegation for this season so that we act in the best interests of all levels of the game,” RFU President Jeff Blackett said.
“We want to ensure a healthy elite game to support successful winning England teams that generate income to stimulate and preserve the game across all levels.
“The Council will continue to be closely engaged with the proposals from the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship to ensure we maintain the integrity of the future league structures for England Rugby.”