Sunday, 22 May 2016

Wild West

There was a really interesting piece in the Grauniad last week about England's 2nd tier of professional rugby - the RFU Championship - having become "the wild west of professional rugby".

Much of the article revolves around the thoughts of Ben Hooper, a 28 year old prop plying his trade in the Championship with Yorkshire Carnegie, who tells of players being exploited, underpaid and let down by their clubs, the RFU and their own union.

It makes depressing reading but really should not come as too much of a surprise and, much like the arguments around ring-fencing the Premiership, kind of misses the point.

Despite the fact that the RFU remains “fully committed to the development of a professional English second-tier competition,” what everyone should be asking is how financially sustainable is professional rugby in England?

I've said for some time that rugby in England simply isn't big enough to sustain 2 fully professional leagues of 12 teams. The comments from Ben Hooper would appear to support this.

The sooner the powers-that-be recognise that English rugby can only sustain a limited number of fully professional clubs and structure the game accordingly, the better for all concerned, including those much put-upon players currently scratching out a living in the Championship.

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