Focus group to begin addressing Super Series fallout on Wednesday

Gav Scott – the SRU'S Director of Rugby Development – will convene meeting to start looking at composition of Premiership and National Leagues next season

Gav Scott – Director of Rugby Development – will convene a focus group meeting on Wednesday to start looking into the composition of the Premiership and National Leagues. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Gav Scott – Director of Rugby Development – will convene a focus group meeting on Wednesday to start looking into the composition of the Premiership and National Leagues. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE challenge of trying to tidy-up the fallout from last week’s news that Super Series is to be scrapped will begin in earnest on Wednesday when a focus group will convene to “consider best possible options for the domestic game”. The goal is for the Club Rugby Board to be able to make a decision on the composition of the Premiership and National Leagues by 13th March.

While Scottish Rugby have told the six clubs which have Super Series franchises that they are committed to running the league through to the end of the license period after this autumn’s Championship, the hardening consensus appears to be that the best option for all concerned is to call it quits at the end of the spring Sprint competition, not least because it will free players to find new clubs/teams for the start of the 2024-25 northern hemisphere season.

Last Thursday’s Male Performance Pathway briefing outlined a positive agenda for life after Super Series, although there is still a long way to go in terms of costing, financing and delivering ambitious plans to: reinstate Scotland A team fixtures; enlarge professional A team programmes; expand the pro team academies; invest in under-18s rugby; and ensure that the top of the club game is able to play a valuable role in helping identify and develop players.


Scrapping of Super Series confirmed as part of new ‘Male Performance Pathway’ vision

First things first, however, and Wednesday’s Focus Group meeting, which is being convened by Gav Scott – Director of Rugby Development – will consider whether some form of league restructuring is required so as to accommodate four of the six Super Series parent clubs who have found themselves outside the top flight of club rugby as a consequence of their involvement in the soon to be defunct competition.

As it stands, the ‘Club XVs’ of both Heriot’s and Ayr have already earned promotion back to the Premiership having previously accepted relegation to the second-tier National One league as part of the Super Series agreement ahead of the 2019-20 season. Meanwhile,  Melrose and Watsonians are set to play in National One again this season, Stirling County are almost certain to be in National Two again having been relegated in 2023, and Boroughmuir will be in National Three having suffered back-to-back demotions in 2022 and 2023.

Melrose, Watsonians, Stirling County and Boroughmuir naturally hope that they can be returned to the Premiership, but it is surely inconceivable that they will be summarily lifted and dropped into that league with other clubs being shuffled downwards to fill the gaps.

One option is to expand the Premiership to 14 teams (consisting of the 10 clubs already in the league plus Melrose, Watsonians, Stirling County and Boroughmuir), with three-down and one-up relegation for the next two years until a 10 team format is restored. That would leave National One with only eight teams, and National Two and Three with nine teams. This outcome would almost certainly mean the Cup would have to be sacrificed next season. nGiven that a restructuring took place as recently as the end of the 2022-23 season to move from there National League of 12 to four National Leagues of 10, it would be frustrating but not catastrophic to have to go through another shake-up so soon.

It is a matter of personal perspective whether this proposal aligns with the three key principles agreed by the Scottish Rugby Limited and Scottish Rugby Union Boards for finding a solution to this problem, which are –

  • As fair to as many clubs as possible
  • Least disruption to 10 team National league structures and regional leagues
  • No club to be seriously inconvenienced

 

 

Feelings run deep on this matter, with a significant school of thought within clubland being that the Super Series clubs made their own bed when they signed up to the part-time professional league fully aware of the risks, so must now live with the consequences.

However, there are sporting fairness and safety considerations at play in terms of Stirling and Boroughmuir in particular steamrollering their way through National Two and Three next year with squads packed with Super Series talent (although many of those teams’ players are bound to look elsewhere for a more appropriate level of rugby).

An important question is whether the greater good of Scottish Rugby will be best served by having two of the established powerhouses of the club game, with two of the most prolific youth sections in the country, stuck down the leagues, where they won’t be able to attract the sponsorship etc revenue that they rely on to maintain their extensive programmes?

A more palatable option may be to return Stirling and Boroughmuir to National One where they along with Melrose and Watsonians will be competing just one step away from the top flight.

A related question is whether anything can and should be done to even up the playing field given that some of the value added by significant SRU investment into Super Series over the last five years [expertise and infrastructure] will now naturally filter through to the ‘Club XVs’, while the Premiership faced a drop in support from Murrayfield during the same period?

Membership of the focus group will be based around the same personnel who contributed to the Male Performance Pathway presentation which was unveiled last week, supplemented by relevant members of the Club Rugby Board [CRB].

SRU Vice-President Keith Wallace explained last week that an SGM is no longer required to approve a league reconstruction, but that is a definite possibility if the focus group fails to come up with a proposal which the club community can live with. Given recent low turnouts at general meetings, it would only take 30 or so clubs to rail against the CRB recommendation for a ‘no’ vote to become a very real possibility. At a time when the clubs need to come together to tackle the myriad challenges the game faces, we should all hope that it doesn’t come to that.


Q&A: Scottish Rugby’s Male Performance Pathway Review update

About David Barnes 3911 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

105 Comments

  1. Tumbleweed in terms of news from the “Focus Group” about what shape and structure our game will be in for next season?

    So the proverbial grenade has been lobbed by the SRU and I assume they are now going to spectate (but spin it as facilitate) the aftermath?

  2. Nobody here agrees on what is right! The focus group is the same old crowd. Yes we have to understand what the six clubs need and avoid their revenues plunging and some potentially going bankrupt. But shouldn’t we take this opportunity to talk to youngsters both in and not in the pathway bring in schools, school teachers, club helpers, local business people ( to understand what will make it appealing for them to provide funds) and other interested parties and really understand what we need to do to create a vibrant amateur and professional game. We need to make our local clubs appealing vibrant local hubs, we need to learn from the few that are thriving, we need to think outside the box, trial 3-4 innovative schemes in different areas and see what works. If we keep doing the same stuff our clubs will die – they struggle to put out teams, generate the revenue required to fund the Clubs and fail to attract enough youngsters. In many areas the youngsters and many of their parents barely know the local club exists never mind what it does.

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  3. It’s all sounding like the Welsh inter-club bickering. The “We hate Melrose” club quite vociferous.
    Maybe these other Border clubs should look a bit closer to home to see why they’ve not had much success in the last 30 years.
    Wonder why Hawick guys went to Kelso….?
    All these clubs’ll be keen to recruit as many super 6 players as they can.
    Hopefully the inter-district championship might create a bit of unity in the club scene.

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  4. I do not have a dog in the fight but to me it seems there are some certainties in this

    1. All current Super 6 sides will be represented in the new top flight (transition season or permanent structure) by ONE club side
    2. All sides promoted up a division will get their promotion – aside Ayr as they can not have two team in the top flight.
    3. There will need to be two fantastic divisions of inter city reserve

    So that is either SIX + EIGHT from Prem (with no double Herriot or double Ayr representation (promotion void) and a relegated Jed Forrest) a league of 14 – which is maybe managed if none of these sides can enter cup this season

    OR better SIX + SIX seeing then as table stands Hawks and Selkirk going to N1 with Jed so then league of 12 in Prem and 10 in N1 (no Ayr, Melrose of Watsons club side in N1 & GHK exchange with promoted Peebles

    Then N2 is 10 but no Stirling so either most likely no relegation from N2

    Then N3 is 10 but now Bororuhgmuir club side gone and no side relegated so two sides up from N4

    Then N4 is 10 but will be able to accommodate one extra promoted side via play off from Regional divisions (so likely second placed in W1 alongside Ardrossan.

    GOING forward two up to down for all divisions including N4 where the “two up” come via playoff 2v2 of each region round robin then a semi 1v2 or 1v1 (not same regions) Need to recognises W1 is light years ahead of E1, C1 and allow that to recitfy.

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    • Coach potato – there is no way you can suggest that all current super 6 sides should automatically be represented in the Premiership because you do not know what volume of players would choose to drop back to the club side and many of the super 6 players have different club sides. The quality of the following Melrose , Watsonians , Boroughmuir and Stirling is very uncertain. This season they are where they are because they are not good enough to be in Prem. For all we know Melrose for example may only get 1 or 2 players back into the club side from the Knights and there is no way that this would be sufficient to be guaranteed a place in the Premiership as it is likely to be ( stronger ) after this debacle is over. Likewise the other Super 6 club sides operating in the national leagues are not necessarily guaranteed a significant influx of players from Super 6 given that their current pool has been drawn from a number of clubs. This will come back to money and which club’s have the deepest pockets. We have seen Ayr do what Ayr do by significantly “investing “ in the club side this year to ensure promotion and it is clear they are paying players as the side is immeasurably better than the club side that Ayr fielded last year. This has been done at the expense of providing quality rugby for their 2nd XV ( or last years 1XV ) who have been playing pointless games , pummelling lowly 2nd XV teams by over 100 points in a league that the level of which these players should not be playing in – doesn’t benefit anyone.
      There are far too many unknowns at present , particularly around where players will go post Super 6. To suggest all Super 6 club sides go straight back to Prem is pure folly as you cannot seriously suggest that a Nat 3 side ( like Boroughmuir ) plus maybe an optimistic half dozen Super 6 returnees would be strong enough to function in the Prem. I’m sure if you ask the current Boroughmuir club players they will suggest that they have found a level in Nat 3 that provides competitive rugby for this young group of players. More turmoil and disruption for these young players ..

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      • Where do you think all these players are going to then ? I can assure you all super 6 will be in the top flight. There to sink or swim. Is very clear that some sides “invested” in their club sides. So why wouldn’t similar “investment” be on offer from others to their club sides

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      • GRob – help me out here. What is to stop the other S6 sides “investing” in their club side – where do you think the 120 odd players are going? Sure some retire some to England etc but just cause Herriot’s and Ayr had enough resource to “invest” more widly (and foresight to know this was coming) does not mean Muir and Stirling wont now do same.

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      • Please do not assume that any club side showing improved form must therefore be resorting to the brown envelopes.

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    • A league of 14 with a split midway through the season into title and relegation sections would only increase fixtures by one match.

      You could reduce the play off to a single match between 1st and 2nd or remove them entirely to bring the fixtures down for the top clubs.

  5. Having watched Stirling who have an incredibly young team many of who have remianed loyal to the club during a few hard seasons where the senior section has been neglected and the players have been chraged astronimocal membership prices with nothing in return in terms of kit or even physio cover and tape on match day in order to fund Super 6. Having them remian in national 2 (a postion they are in many belive tem to be in due to an incompatance in the coaching team that have taken the team backwards each season since taking over 3 years ago) will destory the senior section of the club. Many of the young talented players are now at a point where they will have no choice but to leave (many already have James Imrie, Cam Murphy, Jack Duncan to name a few) if they want to further themselves if Stirling find them selfs remianing in national 2, with no clear pathway to a higher level with Super 6 being no longer. Why should these young players that Super 6 was orginally put in place to help develop and not be a sabatical for overseas players be the ones that are punished for remaining loyal to their club. Bourghmuir will be in the same boat aswell with the majroity of their youth talent that they do so well at producing looking to play senior rugby elsewhere to play at a higher level if these teams don’t go back into at least National 1

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    • Those young County boys haven’t won a game in months in Nat 2….they’d be hammered in the Prem. They need a chance to go up the league organically at a rate they can handle. Agree on points about high fees and not having the support they deserve but time to let them and Boroughmuir start supporting those players and evolving them over time. Artificially dumping them into a level they can’t handle would be downright irresponsible. It’s their responsibility to look after their own senior sections not anyone else’s and no other clubs senior sections should be shoved aside to indulge those who didn’t attend to their own obligations to their club sides.

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      • Spot on Rugby Fan. Tom I agree it’s not the players fault there seems to have been some mismanagement at County, which makes their statement even more mind-boggling. Filled their Super 6 team with recruited players are are reaping that.
        Teams in Nat 2 (and 3) have always lost good developing players that’s part of the challenge.

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      • Yes because the team is littered with 2nd or 3rd XV quality players due to the mass exodus of good players, from 3 seasons of poor coaching and investment, it’s only held afloat by a few good players who stuck around. Naturally, the investment went to Super Series in both coaches and players, the senior section left to rot. Those few good players who stayed with the senior side, plus the super series players Stirling could hold onto, is a premiership calibre side. The rest would filter into 2nd/3rd XV where their level is.

    • Tom. I agree with some of what you say. But implying that the County coaches are incompetent is both cruel and wrong.
      They have been fielding incredibly young sides for the last couple of years. But their main issue has been not being able to field a consistent team. In the 22/23 they had to use upwards of 50 players due to work, uni and other player commitments.
      Both coaches are County to the bone and the current predicament must really hurt. A number of boys did leave but County’s issue has always been a very small pool to pick from. Maybe the club threw their financial resources at winning the Super6 Championship. But other clubs spent quite a bit in getting promoted to the premiership so coaches from County Boroughmuir and the other teams struggling with relegation have found it difficult but at least they’ve played fair

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    • I agree with what you say Tom. I remember watching Stirling County Super 6 just after the Covid year, Cam Murphy and Jack Duncan both getting opportunities to play in Pre Season games, 2 boys who have impressed for the club team during their time. At 18/19 years old it showed that the club might be developing from within, starting them off with men’s rugby at national 1 level so that they can gain experience to potentially push for a S6 spot and showed real promise for the future. After that season both boys not really getting a look in with the S6 side along with many other boys. A potential factor into why they left the club. With Cam Murphy moving to Watsonians and Jack Duncan playing for Currie Chieftans. After keeping an eye on each team throughout the National 1 and Premiership, it was nice to see that Jack went on to start for Currie in the Premiership and Cam getting a few appearances with the Watsonians Super 6 as well as starting each week in National 1
      I don’t know much about James Imrie as he was fairly new to the Men’s XV due to him being younger and now moved on to play with Glasgow Hawks. But he’s been starting every week in the premiership and competing at that level consistently.Josh King who has gone on to play championship rugby, Mikey Heron who starts each week for our Wolves team.

      These 5 young men who have all represented Stirling County 1st XV in the past 3 years. Show that with the right exposure they can really progress and go on to succeed. We want to see more players push on to the Professional game and hopefully push for international honours.

      The only area on which I don’t agree with is the lack of coaching. I’m sure things are difficult within the coaching set up at Stirling County. But without the help of Craig Deacons, Mark Hunter and Tom Chapman these boys wouldn’t be in the position they are today getting opportunities to play at higher levels. Stirling County need to think about the potential of playing in a premiership. How can they retain players who drop down from super 6? How can they develop the current first XV to push to play premiership rugby? Players need to see that there is always a chance that they can play at a higher level, especially young up and coming talent. Without a clear pathway to show and aid development, players will leave to try and find better opportunities elsewhere.

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  6. Having watched Stirling who have an incredibly young team many of who have remianed loyal to the club due during a few hard seasons where the senior section up has been neglected and the players been chraged astronimocal membership prices with nothing in return in terms of kit or even physio cover and tape on match in order to fund Super 6. Having them remian in national 2 (a postion they are in many belive due to an incompatance in the coaching team that have taken the team backwards each season since taking over 3 years ago) it will destory the senior section of the club. Many of the young talented players are now at a point where they will have no choice but to leave (many already have James Imrie, Cam Murphy, Jack Duncan to name a few) if they want to further themselves if Stirling find them selfs remianing in national 2, with no clear pathway to a higher level with Super 6 no longer being a thing. Why should these young players that Super 6 was orginally put in place to help develop and not be a sabatical for overseas players be the ones that are punished for remaining loyal to their club. Bourghmuir will be in the same boat aswell with the majroity of their youth talent that they do so well at producing looking to play senior rugby elsewhere to hlep play at a higher level if these teams don’t go back into at least National 1

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  7. Very useful article. Thanks for clarifying a number of things.

    I’m struck by the criteria in play

    * As fair to as many clubs as possible
    * Least disruption to 10 team National league structures and regional leagues
    * No club to be seriously inconvenienced

    I’m really not sure these three things are achievable at the same time. Though I also note the operative words – fair to as many clubs as possible; least disruption to 10 team leagues and not to be seriously inconvenienced.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of how and why we got here, it’s indisputable that this was a commercial enterprise, freely entered into by the seven contracting parties.

    The contract will specify what happens in the event of dissolution. So all that needs to happen is for this document(s) to be published to clear all this up.

    Of course the “contract” might be legally unenforceable which would be tricky (though hilarious given the legal wheezes Murrayfield has pulled over the years) and/or the commitments given in that contract are beyond the competence of the offerer. Like “promising” entry back to the Premiership.

    In the spirit of openness and transparency, theses should be published immediately.

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    • Openness, transparency & integrity are all words that hold zero value in Murrayfield.

      There appears to be far too much to hide from within the autocratic bureaucracy which is why we don’t have these virtues at the top of our union. Even legal financial statements are designed to obfuscate and create ambiguity rather than provide transparency as the truth is no doubt damming.

      Any business with any form of leadership would have a vision, a strategy, a plan and underpinning that plan would be measurable and meaningful metrics that would shine a light on responsibility and create accountability, sadly this organisation seems exempt from good practice “operational excellence” year after and year yet seems to bumble along from one calamity to another.

      The current fiasco over ending the SS without buy-in or a continuation plan, the cobbled together PowerPoint slide with blind faith in relying on a known, sub-optimal and biased Pathway system as a feeder from youth; member clubs all postulating and becoming tribal about who deserves to be where and yet here we are…

      – Probably ~100 from ~180 players from SS who’ve invested in becoming better players in our game, will go where as they “come down the pyramid”?
      – Hundreds of youth players maturing into the senior game who will go where? (of course, there’s several with their golden tickets and will be safe regardless).
      – Thousands of fans that have no idea what the structure of Scottish Rugby is and the teams within that structure.

      The very organisation that the SRU commissioned to review our setup previously did a similar exercise in Wales, who are establishing the equivalent of SS with 10 teams as there is a recognised layer for regular, competitive rugby as a feeder into the pro system. Seeing this report in full, warts and all would be in the interest of all of the Scottish Rugby Community and we should have the opportunity to understand the findings and establish the bigger picture and how this cascades down from National, to Pro, to clubland and youth.

  8. I have every faith in Gemmell & co fixing this mess . Yeh right
    They’ve been in a lot of messes in SRU and always come out the other side .
    Usually in another job.

    Gemmells current job description is ‘Director of Performance ‘
    As ‘Jimmy Cricket ‘ would have said he’s not performing right .
    But that’s what’s wrong at Murrayfield .failure doesn’t matter .
    just moved to another department

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  9. Worth remembering there were 6 clubs who only achieved prem status on the back of the best 6 in the country moving up to S6. Some of these clubs were never prem1 quality and couldn’t sustain it in previous years and yo-yoed up and down the leagues for donkeys. That some of them have benefited significantly from being able to pay players and many pathway boys not yet at s6 standard or recent graduates being directed to prem 1 sides , doesn’t mean the likes of Marr deserve credit for having taken the opportunity and run with it. Others such as GHA can’t manage that and then the likes of Jed seem to demonstrate they’re not prem1 standard. Its bonkers that Boroughmuir , with the best youth academy system in Scottish club rugby should be in nat 3 producing quality players for Currie etc.

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    • If Boroughmuir have the best Academy system in Scottish club rugby, why are the majority of the players they are producing only fit for Nat 3 rugby?

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      • Anyone with the slightest understanding of youth rugby can see that Boroughmuir have been leading the field for some time. Ayr close behind. If I recall Muir transitioned their best youth players straight in the Bears. Others such as Ollie Blyth-Lafferty ended up at Currie and other prem sides. I’m not a Muir fan and not particularly concerned about them per se but can’t see any sense in the schadenfreudey mince being spouted on here.

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      • My “slight understanding” of the B’Muir youth rugby is that they draw in players from further afield attracted by the success of their age grade teams. Unfortunately for them, this does not engender any loyalty to the parent club and therefore those that didn’t transition to the Bears, find playing opportunities elsewhere. Im not sure how this changes regardless of which level the parent club plays at next season.

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  10. Blaming s6 clubs is a nonsense to me. Suggest 14 transitional year or simply bite the bullet and go s6 plus top 4 prem which leaves Nat 1 looking very attractive as well. Might be sore on some but nothing is perfect. Only other thought is a permanent Prem of 12 to ease things up a bit. In football the SPL eventually went from 10 to 12 for that reason, now with a 6 team split.

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      • Indeed. They were both happy in the last to pull in youth players from much further afield than their natural catchment area because other clubs did not look after their youth systems. It’s a bit rich to start mewling if those players gravitate back to their local clubs at senior level. It’s not anyone else’s job to protect a clubs senior sections but that club. They made an active choice to de prioritise their club sides and they need to own that decision and start supporting their senior club players. All if this was predicted, and very loudly when S6 wax first mooted but hubris created a selective deafness and the very same people at County and Muir who are now having a tantrum about the SRU were Dodson’s biggest defenders previously no matter how ridiculous it made them look. Players who are struggling at 3rd / 4th tier level should not be thrown into Prem rugby and it’s quite disturbing that those at these clubs seem to have so little regard for their own player’s welfare. There’s no harm in teams taking 3-4 years to climb the leagues naturally (if they are good enough and properly supported by coaches) and it will make them better players in the long run. Too many players have been simply handed success in the past here and then they hit international rugby and come unstuck against young players from other countries like Ireland who have had to graft and compete every single game from minis to earn a jersey. Hard work n reward should not just be bypassed due to a false sense of entitlement.

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  11. Let’s be honest, the Clubs who hold the 6 franchises have been pretty well looked after over the past few years.

    Six figure sums directly invested in staffing each season (including full time salaried coaching staff, preferential access to Scottish Rugby funding for development of facilities, formal association with higher education institutions, access to full-time professional players, academy players included in squads.

    But despite all these benefits, we find that two Clubs have allowed the standard of their amateur 1st xv to drop significantly with one already in National 3 and the other a couple of points away from joining them.

    From where I sit, they have squandered the privilege of preferential Scottish Rugby investment over the past 5 years. Perhaps Gav Scott will tell us how much Scottish Rugby finance has been diverted from the Club game to these 6 special cases.

    Should they continue to get special treatment, no – but I’m sure there will be plenty who argue they should and no doubt for several more years into the future.

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    • Pegj. Totally agree with your comments. Six Premiership teams awarded Super 6 franchises and all six club teams placed in Nat.1. These teams all had the same opportunities to gain promotion back to the Premiership with Heriots and Ayr grabbing the bull by the horns and achieving promotion. Melrose, Watsonians,Stirling and Boroughmuir all failed to back their club XV’s to try and gain promotion and threw all their resources at Super 6.

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    • Super Series was part of the Performance budget and so no funding was diverted from the club budget. Perhaps look at the two pro teams budgets, where from their website 73 non rugby related employees are on the books. I am sure that it will be the same at both Edinburgh and Murrayfield.

  12. It’s folly to suggest that all current Super 6 sides should rejoin the Premiership as their playing roster alone would be very uncertain and the spread of players returning from Super 6 to clubs is highly unpredictable and unlikely to be an evenly spread process.
    Melrose in particular are not likely to get many players back from Super 6 , firstly because there were not that many original Melrose players in the side or certainly not that had played for Melrose in the recent past and secondly because of the massive fallout and turmoil that the club created during the process itself alienating players , committee and supporters alike in doing so , the club sold its soul and is nowhere near the club it once was.
    It will also be interesting to see if there is any fallout from the aspect of the expensive installation of the synthetic pitch which was a joint venture between SBC , Live Borders and Melrose rugby – what happens here given there must have been agreements based on SRU funding to allow this to proceed. Finally the recent liquidation of Melrose building firm – Crawford builders , so long a Melrose benefactor and sponsor…
    Tough times ahead for Melrose and an example of why not all current Super 6 clubs either should or could return directly to Premiership rugby…

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    • Crawfords are back working right now on all their sites. Liquidation was simply a tax dodge. I expect the money to be flowing back into Melrose soon enough.

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  13. The Dodson legacy! Ongoing bitterness within the rugby community. Those within SRU hierarchy who caused this rupture will have to carry the can with the fallout from the resolution. Remember those who steamroller through Super 6 at the expense of clubs.
    Those successful in gaining a franchise clearly didn’t understand the business risk of the venture.

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  14. Quite simple, next season 2 premiership leagues A & B both of equal standing, 10 teams from Premiership, Nat 1 + Stirling and Boroughmuir. Leagues seeded. End of season top 5 in each league form new prem, bottom 6 form 12 team Nat 1 for 1 season only then down to 10.
    Future – 3 National leagues, scrap reserve leagues with any club only allowed 1 team in the 3 National leagues. Club rugby totally amateur with investment in coaches, S&C and medical provisions.
    This is my own personal view and solution.

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  15. Read the comments above and ask yourself – is a ‘focus group’ the right level to sort this out.

    The instability this will cause in Scottish rugby is so grave that it needs the best the SRU can muster to steer it to a decision in the shortest possible time or all our best will be playing outside Scotland.

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  16. This focus group is only for one thing. It’s to get the SRU off the hook by getting clubs in the current div1&2 to agree to let the super6 clubs back in. That’s all. They don’t care about anything else. All the jumping up and down about super6 being cancelled is old news to them now.

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  17. A lot of people seem to have forgotten that all the Premiership Clubs and Dundee put bids in to join Super Six. This was not the equivalent of Man City etc breaking away. It was clubs following the SRU plan to develop the game in Scotland.

    Those clubs went into Super Series in good faith. They have had to manage the fall out of semi-pro rugby through Covid. The SRU have failed to deliver on promised support to develop Super Series. As a result, the financial burden has been heavy.

    At the outset of Super Series the clubs were told they would be returned to the top division, if the licence was not renewed. It surely needs Scottish rugby clubs to come together, not look to settle tribal scores. We all need to be growing playing numbers and playing standards.

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    • Not all of them did, and there were sone that weren’t anywhere near the standard that was needed to run a super6 team – they just thought they had to fill in the forms and it would be granted. However they’re now the lucky ones.

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      • I don’t think anyone one is lucky in any of this it’s a complete mess. Too many at the SRU are not accountable for their actions (Stevie Gemmel for one) and the clubs are left to deal with it.

        It beggars belief that all this is happening without a new CEO and Performance Director in place. Surely any quality individuals applying for those posts would want to have a major say in the direction of rugby.

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    • Stuart, if as you say ‘at the outset of Super Series the clubs were told they would be returned to the top division, if the licence was not renewed’ then surely that was written into the contract it will be pretty short discussion. However I’d assume that as Stirling County didn’t mention that in their press release its not written down and is hearsay or assumptions l.

    • Alternately those that applied for S6 didn’t have much choice otherwise they would have been left behind if the didn’t follow Dodson’s folly.

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  18. I think the S6 clubs deserve special dispensation to play in the top league. Those 6 plus the current top 4 in the Premier should be the the top flight next season. The 6 clubs invested a lot of money on S6 so they deserve some kind of payback for being left high and dry.

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  19. Most of the Southern Knights will head back to Northumberlan….
    Melrose club are likely to get very few players back …. Why would they ???

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  20. There should have been a full consultation with all clubs and a plan put in place before the decision was conveyed to pull Super 6. There should have been a planned and agreed transition plan.
    To be in a position where we now don’t know when Super 6 will actually end and not have any plan around what will replace it are the acts of an organisation that are completely bereft of the required organisational capabilities and these actions are simply incompetent.
    Deeply worrying that the organisation entrusted with managing both amateur and professional rugby in Scotland repeatedly disregards or ignores its member stakeholders and ploughs on blindly into the unknown.
    Rugby in Scotland is in serious trouble …

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  21. There will not be an even spread of returning Super 6 players , indeed Melrose in particular could actually fare much worse than some of the non Super 6 clubs in that they are unlikely to get many players back to the Melrose club. There is no way a Hawick or Kelso players for example are going to return to the Melrose club side particularly given the derision that Melrose are viewed in the Borders. This scenario could actually be very damaging for Melrose and on current form they would not be capable of competing in the Premiership.
    Melrose will reap what they have sown , the fallout from the failed Suoer 6 process and how badly this was managed by Melrose and the Knights will leave a legacy that will mean Melrose will find it very difficult to get back to the top table in Scottish rugby.

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    • Why would we be to concerned about Melrose. They were never magnanimous to anyone else

      But it’s a disgrace only setting up a focus group now

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    • Melrose literally just turned over premiership side Selkirk in their own backyard, and it should have been more. I dont think the Premiership is quite as good as what everyone thinks it is!

  22. In the case of the Knights and Melrose , I very much doubt that many of the current Knights team would want to play for Melrose club side and this should certainly not be suggested as a given. Indeed I would suggest the Melrose club side will get very few players back from the Knights. Melrose as a club lost its soul when it took on the Knights franchise, it is a club that is still very much in turmoil having alienated many players , committee and supporters due to their poor man management . There is still a lot of unrest within the club.
    The problem with suggesting that clubs are potentially going to be placed is that it is completely unpredictable where the current Super 6 players will go and it is highly unlikely to be an even spread across the teams. The Knights have always been a troubled entity and the political fallout of the Knights franchise still wrankles deeply within the club and more widely in the Borders , there will be very few Knights players feel that they have any sort of loyalty or tie to Melrose unlike the majority of the other Super 6 sides who managed to keep the one club “feel “ much more effectively than Melrose and the Knights.. who at times definitely worked against each other. The deep dislike within the Borders for both the Knights and Melrose will not stand them in good stead moving forward and they are unlikely to recieve much support from the other Border clubs.

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  23. I’m in favour of a 14 team premiership next season for one season only.

    Hawick, Marr, Currie, Kelso, Heriots, Musselburgh, Edinburgh Accies, Selkirk, Glasgow Hawks, Ayr, Stirling Co, Watsonians, Melrose, Boroughmuir

    Let them all play each other once – 13 games. There will be a slight inequality in terms of home and away games – some will play 7 home and 6 away and the others will play 6 at home and 7 away. That can be counterbalanced the 6 super series clubs get 6 home games, along with whoever finishes 2nd bottom of premiership this season (Hawks or Selkirk)

    After 13 games we split the league in 2. The top 6 play off for the title, playing each other once. (Actually I would go further, and still have the top 4 play semi’s and final after that)…that would be a 13+5+2 = 20 games

    The bottom 8 would all play each other again once (another 7 games) with the top 3 retaining their place in the premiership the following season and the bottom 5 dropping into national 1 (with one team being promoted from national 1). Again that would be a 20 game season.

    That gives everyone a chance to play for a place in the premiership the following season, and no one is playing at a lower level than they expect to be next year.
    The SRU could ‘balance’ the teams (if there are fears the super series will dominate) by distributing the Academy players (the Future XV essentially) among the non-super series clubs.

    For one season only the 14 premiership clubs sit out of the cup competitions. While clubs in the other 3 national leagues (26 clubs) who will have slightly reduced league programmes because they are in smaller leagues, can have a slightly expanded cup competition for one season to make up for game time.

    If there is a will to unite for the greater good, a transitional league structure along these lines could easily be implemented and give everyone the opportunity to find their appropriate level in the season after.

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    • @David. I’m not sure how many of the Futures squad would significantly strengthen the non-Super Series Prem teams. Quite a number of the current Futures squad were playing 2nd XV rugby for Prem sides before they moved to the Futures set-up. i.e. some of the Futures squad would struggle to get a game for a Prem 1st XV.

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      • Completely agree. The danger here is the SRU insisting they parachute future’s players and Current U20’s into clubs at the expense of other players. Especially, with a few exceptions they have proven to be ‘not very good’ and before anyone starts just look at the results.

      • @Jim. I may be wrong, but I don’t think any of the Futures squad would really stand out in a decent Prem side. You could easily have Futures squad players back playing 2nd XV rugby for Prem sides next season, which is no use to anyone really.

        I’ll stick with my belief that there are a few u20 lads playing in the Prem/National Leagues that are better than some in the Scotland u20’s (including those in the starting XV). I usually don’t drill down too far, but having watched about the last dozen u20 games, I’ve yet to see a winger that has really looked the part.

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      • The regional pathway teams always post the regional games onto Coach Logic, but there is no analysis on the games. Even in the youth game the coaches utilise the analysis tool in coach logic to give the players critical feedback on their game performance.
        For people who are paid to be in charge of the regional pathways not to use this tool publicly is very telling. If they did it would produce real evidence of who is a great player and who is just average. They don’t want that tho because then they’d have to pick the great players and not the ones with the ‘golden tickets’. It would expose how rigged the pathway is!

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    • I like the idea David but remember that a number of these players will be off playing district matches and that could impact sone teams more than others. However the clubs will pay players to play and the districts will be unpaid so players and clubs might not be too keen on going to play for districts.

      • To think that the “district” setup is now our bridge between pro and clubland with the demise of SS, the place for our upcoming talent to exhibit their skills and then we see the announcement today. Just take a look at the coaching setup for Glasgow & West and take a look at the team selection.

        Would appear the nepotism rule as used in the pathway system is being used here as well.

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      • Fair point Big Jim. As the new showpiece and stepping stone for talent to raise through the ranks from clubs, seems you must be at specific clubs to get the opportunity.

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  24. Stirlings club statement tells you everything you need to know. Arrogant beyond words thinking they are entitled to be back in the premiership.

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  25. For anyone old enough to remember.
    This is like the Bobby Ewing scene in Dallas emerging from the shower .
    it was all a dream
    The previous 4 seasons stories didn’t happen .
    If only .

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    • Mouse .
      JR would have sorted this mess out .
      By firing the Deadwood management in SRU that’s made this ballsup
      When you fail up there at Murrayfield you’re just shunted into another made up post to fail there .
      We have a chance now to sort out Scottish rugby’s future but we can’t have the same people in charge again .
      Refresh the place
      Too many jobs for the boys

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      • @Colin. There is too much deadwood across all areas of the SRU to clear it all out in one go. In general it would be to encourage feedback from clubs and players (and parents of players going through the player development pathway).

        Right now it seems to be a closed shop, with people that simply aren’t doing a good job being allowed to continue year after year. I’d personally love to see a player/parent satisfaction survey of the current player development pathway/selection process and coaching set-up. I think it would absolutely damning.

  26. Here’s my penny’s worth although I accept it will be impossible to please everyone. This may soften the blow a bit though for all clubs by ditching the second teams of Ayrshire Bulls, Heriot’s, Watsonians, Boroughmuir, Southern Knights (a Melrose franchise) and Stirling Wolves. It would mean that we still have 10 team leagues but 4 clubs instead of 3 would go out of the National Leagues, making way for the three regional winners. These new leagues are based on current league positions and rewarding clubs like Preston Lodge and Garnock (nearly there) who have earned promotion. By tweaking the names of the divisions (Championship instead of NL1) it falls more in-line to what the clubs are used to at the moment and keeping the standard as high as possible at the top end.

    PREMIERSHIP
    Ayrshire Bulls
    Melrose
    Boroughmuir Bears
    Heriot’s
    Stirling Wolves
    Watsonians
    Hawick
    Currie
    Marr
    Kelso

    CHAMPIONSHIP
    Musselburgh
    Edinburgh Accies
    Selkirk
    Glasgow Hawks
    Jedforest
    Highland
    GHA
    Glasgow Accies
    Biggar
    Gala

    NATIONAL 1
    Dundee
    GHK
    Peebles
    Falkirk
    Newton Stewart
    Lasswade
    Gordonians
    Stew-Mel
    Kirkcaldy
    Berwick

    NATIONAL 2
    Aberdeen Grammar
    Preston Lodge
    Orkney
    Howe of Fife
    Hillhead-Jordanhill
    Allan Glen’s
    West of Scotland
    Dumfries
    Garnock
    Preston Lodge

    NATIONAL 3
    Hamilton
    Cartha QP
    Whitecraigs
    Strathmore
    Stewartry
    North Berwick
    Dunfermline
    East Region Winners
    Caledonia Region Winners
    West Region Winners

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    • @Stuart. Greenock Wanderers, who just spent the weekend celebrating cementing their place in Nat 3 (after 5 wins in their last 7 games) wouldn’t be happy with you suggestion! It has been stated that no single club in the National Leagues will feel hard done by, so back to the drawing board on this one!

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      • Typo there – I put Preston Lodge in twice. Greenock would of course be in NL3 on the list with Cartha QP in NL2.
        But clearly my suggestion is not universally accepted here by 5 to 1, and looking at the other suggestions from people you can see how difficult it is to find an idea which is going to work.

    • So you ‘reward’ PL by letting them play all the same clubs again and still being the same number of leagues from the top. Yet Muir and County get a free pass to the top based on franchise teams full of recruited players.

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      • Your comment illustrates how difficult this is going to be. Nearly every suggestion on here has not been universally received well. Whatever suggestion is made, individual clubs are not all going to be happy and there will be collateral damage. In the case of my suggestion (and I accept fully that it’s not a popular one!) it was purely based on a system related to current rankings, and that’s why PL are in there. I have put them in twice as you will have noticed in error. CQP would be the other team in NL2 with Greenock in NL3. Out of interest Adam, what would your own suggestion be? Most people will suggest something which benefits their own club rather than look at the big picture, which is understandable.

    • Stuart, my suggestion is pretty simple. You disband the franchise teams and carry on. Club sides stay where they are in the leagues, couple of seasons and it all evens out, some players filter back in others follow the cash somewhere else. This only a discussion because County and Boroughmuir made a mess of it

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  27. This is unbelievable. If this is a new dawn, it is starting as an absolute shambles. I read the interview/ Q&A and tried to find some sense, but was left with the impression they (the SRU) are making it up. This article really confirms it.
    The 6 clubs invested massively in Super 6 – not just the players, but with all aspects of running semi pro clubs. I think we can see with the benefit of hindsight it was an ill-conceived project, but some of the problems were the resentment from other clubs.
    There now appears to be no plan. Everyone is left in limbo which is the worst possible outcome. And the knives appear to be out – it seems to everyone for themselves.
    Unless someone gets control quickly, I fear for the future of rugby.
    There were some telling comments on the pathway below the Q&A. If it’s the same people running it (who really do not look after the kids and have poor relationships with schools and clubs), we are doomed.
    Someone at the SRU needs to take control of this fast, before it spins out of control.

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  28. Would be interesting to see how many players from the likes of Knights or Bears will actually return and play for Melrose and Boroughmuir, with the bulk of both squads coming from other clubs – some who are already playing in the Premiership.
    14 teams in the premiership is exciting, but also as pointed out, would create even more congestion of fixtures, and with the inevitable re-scheduling that comes with it, will be a very long season, and a huge demand for amateur players to commit and be available that many weekends, and have an impact on 7s.
    I also think 8 and 9 team national leagues sounds really poor, can’t these stay as 10 teams and have no relegation this season and allow promotion only?

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    • A 14 team Premiership would produce a fixture congestion only if conducted on a home and away basis. There are many ways in which a sensible number of games per season can be achieved; for example a 6/8 split after 13 rounds which would produce totals of 18 and 20 for the top and lower groups respectively. Furthermore for the top six the second part of the season would be virtually the same as the current play-offs, seen by some as adding unnecessary pressure on amateur players.

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  29. Why are S6 clubs not treated as a separate entity from the league clubs? e.g. Southern Knights will simply cease to exist so why should they be reabsorbed back into Melrose?
    The real losers of this will be the premiership and Nat 1 clubs who will be shunted sideways

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  30. Clubs should not be punished for supporting SRU’s development ploy. It’s not worked out and that’s on SRU, not the clubs that had their arms twisted with high performance money and sunny summer rugby. Fund the clubs properly with clear development markers to meet both on and off-field in a 14 team prem.

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    • Not should they be rewarded for letting their clubs sides suffer. It is only an issue as 2 clubs got it wrong, the others managed to maintain or even develop.

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  31. In some ways it’s less about lying in the bed they made but player welfare that needs to be thought about. It’s far from certain that any of the S6 players will stay at these clubs, and if they done putting guys who struggle in Nat 2 or 3 into games against the likes of Hawick and Marr would potentially be dangerous. Don’t think County did themselves any favours with the tone of their statement demanding to be allowed to go straight into Prem. S6 clubs need to wind their necks in somewhat particularly those who decided club rugby was beneath them. They knew the risks of engaging with S6 and plenty of people warned them when it was first announced. Leagues should always be a meritocracy and sporting integrity demands that teams earn their place at the top table not just being parachuted in. I take the point that if S6 squads drop into club rugby that would be unfair on teams in the lower tiers, but really don’t see too many of the mercenaries hanging about.

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    • Safety issues are nonsense. Nat 2 Peebles played Hawick in the Border League last week, Hawick won comfortably but nobody was hurt.
      Realistically when the money stops the semi-pro players with no connection to the clubs will leave and things will even out pretty quickly.
      Most Super 6 clubs teams have done pretty well, just because Muir and County managed it badly they shouldn’t be bailed out.

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      • Peebles are the best side in that league. County’s youngsters are toiling and so are Boroughmuir. Asking those guys to try to play Prem rugby week in week out is a lot different to a one off game with a team of experienced players. You might not care about the safety and welfare of the young players but pretty sure their families do. The obvious solution is to leave club sides where they are unless it’s clear that the S6 squads are to remain in large numbers which seems highly unlikely.

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  32. I can’t see why Stirling or Boroughmuir go back into the top. They took the gamble of Super 6 and let their clubs sudes suffer even with good youth set ups. Its not as if either Super 6 teams are actually true reflections of their club set ups, both recruited heavily. Both should need to work their way back up as others have already.

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  33. Great summary article. Interesting times ahead. I think the sensible and most likely option is as you say expanding premiership to 14 teams.

    My personal opinion you also covered- they made their beds they should lie in it and play the league they are in eg Nat 1/2/3.

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  34. You reap what you sow.
    These teams from S6 shouldn’t be mollycoddled in any way .
    They weren’t bothered a toss about club rugby when they left the club premiership league into Dodson’s folly .
    Only interested in themselves
    Why should they be welcomed back into prem1

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    • Their clubs are already in certain leagues .
      That’s where they should be made to start from .
      No preferential treatment .why should there be .

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    • Nonsense to make a blanket assertion that the S6 clubs weren’t concerned about club rugby. The reality is that they were offered the chance to add another string to their bows – the opportunity to add another step to the development pathway they were able to offer players. Their club teams were very much part of that pathway.

      At least some of the S6 teams worked hard to see to it that their first XVs were given the support they needed to work their way back to the Premiership. Only two managed to do it, but gaining promotion from National 1 under the 1up/1 down promotion and relegation system is far from easy, and let’s not forget the impact on rugby of the pandemic. Indeed, there’s an argument for saying that the S6 teams were hard done by the SRU – promotion and relegation should be a meritocratic process, but the relegation of the S6 clubs’s first XVs to National 1 was anything but that. It’s true that the clubs concerned accepted the S6 franchises on that basis, but it was effectively a case of ‘accept it or we’ll find someone else who will’.

      That brings me to the root of much of the bitching about the S6 clubs: anger at the selection process. I’d be the first to admit that a process that resulted in half of the S6 teams coming from one particular part of the country was flawed, but shouldn’t any ire have been directed at the SRU rather than the S6 clubs themselves?

      Indeed, the whole mess caused by the inception and abrupt termination of the S6 project lies at the door of the SRU. I just hope that they can find a way of resolving it that doesn’t fan the flames that were lit six years ago.

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      • The clubs knew all of this was possible before they signed up. They weren’t forced into taking a franchise. There was a huge degree of hubris with some and it was obvious from before the first ball was kicked that this was a white elephant both financially and in terms of development. They chose to run with it and need to accept there are consequences to their choices.

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