LONDON SCOTTISH hope to join an expanded Super6 [Super8] for the 2022-23 season, with a letter from the club’s Executive Committee and Board sent to membership today [Friday] stating that an informal offer has been extended to the Richmond-based outfit by Scottish Rugby. The other new team in the league will be based in Glasgow, apparently.
Scottish Rugby has distanced itself from the suggestion that anything concrete has been agreed, although positive conversations have taken place on the matter. Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson has made no secret of his desire to grow the league, and is keen to establish a sporting and commercial base in London. It is understood that Malcolm Offord – who recently resigned as a Board member of both London Scottish and Scottish Rugby after being made Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland – has been central to negotiations.
“The Super Six is proving to be a successful competition in Scotland and the Clubs just voted to expand it at the recent AGM and the SRU Board and Council have approved the Executive strategy to expand the tournament to 8 teams in season 22-23,” said the letter.
“The SRU wish these two teams to be based in Glasgow and London, therefore London Scottish has been invited to join Super8 in season 22-23. Preliminary discussions between SRU and RFU CEOs indicate that ‘the RFU cannot think of any reason why they would stop London Scottish playing in Super8 so long as the amateur club remains rooted in the London community’. This would allow London Scottish to return to our roots as providing a player pathway for Scottish Qualified Players born or living in England to play rugby for Scotland.
“Also, from a financial perspective, each Super 8 team will receive £150k support from SRU, plus all of the travel costs will be covered. This is the same amount that we are currently getting in the Championship, although based on the current spending cuts this is by no means guaranteed going forward. We also believe that a salary cap will be imposed which will be much closer to what we are currently spending on the squad – therefore making us much more competitive in the new structure.
“The League will consist of 7 Home matches and 7 Away matches comprising Melrose, Heriots, Watsonians, Boroughmuir, Stirling County, Glasgow and Ayr. These matches will be played in blocks around the two International windows of Autumn and Spring. From the initial feedback we have received, Scottish teams are keen to play matches in London and will bring supporters. Home supporters from the Scottish Diaspora will enjoy LS playing high level Scottish teams instead of mid-level English teams.
“To put this into perspective, the playing standard will be equivalent to National 1&2 which we believe will be a higher level than London Scottish will achieve within the English League structure. It will also mean by playing in the Scottish leagues with a Scottish Qualified Pathway, there will be more commercial interest to our sponsors and investors and our key commercial stakeholders have indicated they would rather support Super8 than Level 4 or 5 in England.
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“At this stage the SRU have provisionally offered London Scottish a place in the new look Super8, which will be formally ratified, hopefully by the end of December. From our understanding the initial ‘franchise’ will be for a period of 3 years, with the potential for the format to be expanded to the Super10. The final details are still being discussed but from what we understand there will be a salary cap (adjusted for LS to take into account London weighting) and which is within our current budget structure. The SRU have offered to pay for all associated travel expenses for all teams involved.
“The current requirement for the Super8 is that 75% of the squad be Scottish qualified – but we expect that initially, we will receive some sort of dispensation in order to facilitate our transition to this requirement. However, we believe by having a clearly defined pathway for Anglo Scottish qualified players – this will provide an attractive proposition of young players who have aspiration to be seen and watched by senior Scottish coaches.”
The letter also explained that the club plans to continue as tenants at Richmond Athletic Ground for the “foreseeable future” and are in discussions to extend our agreement with owners Richmond RFC.
“However, this is only one part of the Club’s overall structure and we also need to take into consideration the Lions who are effectively the 1st XV of the Amateur Club, along with the Mini’s, Juniors and Colts who also make up a substantial part of the Club,” the letter added. “We believe that in order to get RFU approval for us joining the Super 8, they will want the rest of the Club to remain within the English Club and community structure. To this end, it is imperative that we find a new ‘home’ for the remainder of the Club to establish a base from which we can grow and develop.”