AT least three amendments to the motion which is to be debated and voted on at Friday night’s Special General Meeting of the Scottish Rugby Union have been added to the agenda by the governing body’s General Counsel Robert Howat. However, a fourth amendment – proposed by GHA and dealing with the movement of players between club rugby and Super 6 – has been rejected .
The SGM has been called in response to widespread unrest within the club game about the implications of the creation of a Super 6 league to sit above domestic rugby in Scotland from next season onwards. The motion has been proposed by SRU President Dee Bradbury and is based on the recommendations made by the SRU Council’s Standing Committee on Governance led by Independent Chair Gavin MacColl QC. It deals specifically with the issue of where the ‘Club XVs’ of Super 6 license holders should fit into the league structure next season.
The motion is –
THAT pursuant to the Union’s Bye-Law 14.2.3 (and following the prior determination of the Council of the Scottish Rugby Union and prior consultation with the Clubs):
A – The “Club XVs” of those Scottish rugby clubs holding a Super 6 license will play in National 1 in the season in which the Super 6 competition commences (2019/20);
B – At the end of each season 2019/20 and 2020/21, once club will be relegated from the Premiership (or successor league) to National 1, and one club will be promoted from National 1 to the Premiership (or successor league);
C – National 1 clubs will be promoted into the Premiership (or successor league) in accordance with their league positions at the end of season 2018/19, so as to populate the 2019/20 Premiership (or successor league) with 10 teams. There will be no relegation from the Premiership (or successor league) at the end of season 2018/19;
D – Relegation will take place from National 1 in accordance with the presently operating competition rules;
E – Promotion and relegation will take place from National 2 and all lower leagues in accordance with the presently operating competition rules;
and that the Board of the Scottish Rugby Union be and is authorised to proceed to give effect to that determination through changes to the relevant National Competition Rules.
Currie Chieftains have submitted a straight-forward amendment calling for the ‘Premiership’ title – a recognised and respected brand for the top tier of the club game – to be protected so that it cannot be changed on a whim by Murrayfield.
Another amendment submitted by Falkirk is likely to cause far more consternation. It calls for the ‘Club XVs’ of Super 6 license holders to be excluded from the National League structure and be restricted to playing in either their own league or in the national 2nd XV league set-up.
If the Falkirk amendment carries, it will supersede the one proposed by Haddington which calls for the ‘Club XVs’ of Super 6 license holders to be placed in National One, as stipulated in the motion, but for promotion for those teams back into the Premiership to be prohibited for three years.
The rejected GHA motion called for the movement of players between club rugby and Super 6 to be kept in line with the guidance provided in the ‘Super 6 Tournament – Franchise Information’ pack published in November 2017, meaning that there is no ‘playing down’ (into the club game) of players who are awarded Super 6 contracts and that any ‘playing up’ into Super 6 is facilitated through an emergency and short-term injury protocol.
Rangi Jericevich said that the reason given for rejecting the amendment is that player movement was not directly part of McColl’s remit so was deemed out-with the purview of the motion. In response to that, he argues that the issue of league structure cannot be considered in isolation.
“This amendment seeks simply to affirm the controls on player movement between Super 6 and Club rugby,” he said. “If these controls are not affirmed it may affect how a club would wish to vote on the motion.
“The uncertainty is caused by recent representations made with a view to altering the understood arrangements on player movement between Super 6 and Club Rugby as previously defined by the Scottish Rugby Union. Any alterations to these restrictions will have a material effect on the club rugby competitions therefore it is imperative that the control measures regarding player movement between Super 6 and club rugby are clearly established as part of the motion.”
A full schedule of the motion and amendments is available HERE.
Meanwhile, a number of leading figures in the grassroots game have urged clubs not directly or immediately affected by this motion to make the effort to attend the meeting anyway. Getting to Murrayfield for a 6pm on a Friday night is not going to be easy, especially for those travelling from outside the central belt, but it is vital for the game in Scotland that the clubs grasp this opportunity to recapture control of the decision-making process.
The quorum for this meeting will be one-third of the total members eligible to vote at an AGM. However, because the wording of Bye-Law 14.2.3 refers specifically to “clubs”, that means representatives of the Scottish Rugby Referees Association, the Schools Division and members of the SRU Council will not be entitled to vote on the motion, although – rather confusingly – they are entitled to attend and be counted towards the quorum.
Two representatives each from of the 143 full member clubs, the six associate club constituencies, the Scottish Rugby Referees Association and the Schools’ Division are entitled to attend the meeting, plus the 15 Council members, which is a total of 317 entitled to be present, and the quorum is one third of that, so 106 is the magic number.
“This a key meeting for all Scottish Clubs, and I urge them to come and use their votes,” said Keith Wallace, President of Haddington RFC. “Firstly, we need enough clubs for the meeting to be quorate, to avoid the worst of all outcomes: the status quo with S6 Clubs having teams in Super 6 and the Premiership. Secondly, the amendments proposed by Falkirk, GHA and Haddington to the Council’s Motion all seek to ensure that whilst Super 6 is preserved, the impact it will have on player migration from other clubs will be reduced. Such migration, if unchecked, will have a knock-on effect on clubs at all levels of the game, at a time when the number of unfulfilled fixtures are at a record high.”
Gordon Thomson of Aberdeen Grammar fears that his club might be the only one from his neck of the woods that makes the trip to the capital.
“We will be there because we appreciate how important it is for Scottish rugby, but 6pm on a Friday night is a big ask for people with full-time jobs, especially those of us who are coming from north of Dundee,” he said. “I’d have preferred to see it on a Saturday or Sunday, which would have been easier for working people to make. I’ve not seen any communications encouraging clubs to make sure they are represented.”
Dominic Ward, the secretary of Caledonia League Division One side Grangemouth Stags, said: “This may look like it’s just an issue for the Premiership and National League clubs, but any changes to league set-up affects Regional clubs as well. It’s vital that everyone comes along and votes.”
Edinburgh Academicals, one of the four Premiership clubs who missed out on Super 6, issued a statement: “We (Edinburgh Academical Football Club) believe that the outcome of the SGM will have a lasting impact on the future of all rugby clubs throughout Scotland – whether playing in the Premiership, National or Regional leagues. It is therefore crucial that as many clubs as possible should attend in order that the best outcome for Club Rugby is achieved.”
Find out everything you need to know about the whole Super 6 process through the archive of The Offside Line’s unrivalled coverage of this hugely important issue for Scottish club rugby by clicking HERE.
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