Ring fencing the Premiership!
All of a sudden now there is a chance of a ‘big name’ team being relegated to the Championship ring fencing the Premiership has become a very hot topic in the English rugby world. I for one feel very strongly towards this point considering I am a London Irish fan. Firstly the gap between the premiership and championship is way to big and this is seen when teams like us and Bristol lose very few games in a season and put big scores up against other teams, however there can’t keep on being this yo-yo of teams going up and coming straight back down the season after.
If the premiership was to be ring fenced how would you decide on doing it? Would you do two tiers of say eight teams having a north and south divide? Or would you add two teams from the championship and make it a 14 league team, or should it just stay as 12? Could it even be that maybe its 12 teams and then a review after a few years and maybe the top of the championship plays the bottom of the premiership? There are a lot of suggestions floating around at the moment and no one is really certain on what exactly is going on and what the future of English rugby is to hold however I’ve come up with a few pros and cons of ring fencing the premiership and the effects on other clubs.
The Pros of ring fencing the Premiership is that it allows top flight English rugby to really develop and flourish. It would allow teams to give academy players more of a chance in the game as teams fighting for survival at the bottom wouldn’t have to worry as much. This then means that English rugby would become more competitive at a younger age and increasing the level of intensity it would be played at. It would allow teams to grow young local players meaning that English rugby would have a better future (even if I am saying that as an Ireland fan!) This would also allow teams to keep good players that are crucial to the team. This was shown for London Irish last season when they lost the likes of Joe Cokanasiga, Alex Lewington and Johnny Williams as it is coming up to the World Cup and they all want a chance with England however with the new rules they wouldn’t have been able to play for England and be playing for a championship club aswell. How can teams ever keep a good strong squad if they always have the threat of relegation and why would some players sign without a relegation clause. By ring fencing the premiership it would benefit teams who are struggling financially as they have a bit of security by knowing that they can’t fall down a league. This would mean that there would be no newly promoted teams who have to sign loads of new players who don’t work well together but they have the big names. This is significant to London Welsh who recruited a whole new team on their return to the premiership in 2014 but then were relegated that season and then in 2016 they went into liquidation and were then removed from the Championship. So by ring fencing the Premiership it would hopefully sort out those problems.
The cons of ring fencing the Premiership is that it totally rules off the Championship. This then becomes unfair for teams who want to develop as they would soon become a feeder club for Premiership teams. It would be annoying for teams like Cornish Pirates who are really trying to develop there future as a rugby club and this has been put on show by their fantastic start to the season. It would also mean that the Championship would become less popular. Why would teams want to compete in second tier rugby knowing that they can’t get into the top flight. There would be even less media coverage then there is of it now and that just doesn’t seem right for teams who you can really tell are trying to push themselves to become a good enough team for the Premiership.
Supporters who have never experienced their clubs being in the championship may find it difficult to understand why the premiership can’t just be ring fenced and I certainly felt this way too until two seasons ago when Irish were first in the Championship! It is a very competitive league and no teams want to give up however there will always be a team in that league who are a step further ahead unless the premiership is ring fenced. It is a very difficult situation and there will always be a point to argue no matter the outcome and at this moment in time I think the premiership should be ring fenced with a 14 team league but I may be just a bit biased if we get promoted just so we’re not relegated again ;). So what are your thoughts on it?