Second-tier English rugby up in arms over RFU funding cut

Source:AFP Published: 2020/2/14 18:38:41

England head coach Eddie Jones during a warming-up before the 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal match between England and New Zealand in Yokohama, Japan on October 26. Photo: IC

An estimated 200 players face being unemployed after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) stunned second tier Championship clubs by informing them they were slashing their budgets by 50 percent next season.

A Championship club source said that with the budget slashes coming in next term 200 players face being laid off whilst the RFU have also been accused of "ring-fencing" the Premiership.

The 12 Championship clubs, which vary hugely in budget and size from the likes of Newcastle Falcons - set to make an immediate return to the elite - to Hartpury College, were told of the swinging cuts at a meeting on Tuesday with RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney and director of performance Conor O'Shea.

They told the clubs the annual funding would be reduced from 530,000 pounds to 280,000 pounds a year from July - roughly 3 million pounds a year in total. 

There is a 6 million pound spending gap with the Premiership clubs.

Saracens are due to drop down next season - for refusing to open their books to the authorities for this season after breaching the salary cap on several occasions - but the main stars are remaining so the slash in budget will limit their rivals' chances of competing with them for promotion.

"It's the RFU saying it doesn't want the Championship," Nottingham chairman Alistair Bow said.

"I do strongly believe the actions the RFU has taken have handed PRL everything on a plate and without having to pay a penny for it ... The RFU has handed English professional rugby everything."

The RFU, though, claim the cuts are being implemented due to the Championship failing to fulfil five strategic targets in return for a significant rise in funding after the successful hosting of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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