PREMIERSHIP club officials have expressed concern about the prospect of a substantial package of cutbacks in SRU support for the league.
These proposals include: the SRU ceasing to supply camera people to record and upload matches for analysis purposes; clubs being responsible for purchasing the equipment required for ref mics; and clubs being asked to pay for the privilege of having their matches shown on the SRU’s YouTube highlights programme.
A proposal to halt the provision of neutral Assistant Referees [touch-judges] appears to have been shelved for Premiership matches, but is still on the cards for National One, meaning that competing clubs will have to supply one touch-judge each for every match during the season.
The back story to this is the creation of a new, elite Super 6 league to sit above the club game, with central resources inevitably being diverted in that direction.
However, Currie Chieftains President Phil Thomas –who is Chairman of the Premiership forum – stressed the importance of maintaining standards below Super 6, arguing that it is vital to the future health of the game in this country to have a coherent player development pathway and as broad a base as possible for performance-focussed rugby.
“My view – and this will be reflected across the Premiership – is that we need to be developing the standards and the product quality of the club rugby offering, and the SRU should have a corresponding aim,” he said. “This is, or should be, a key SRU objective and any movement in the opposite direction would seem to be misjudged.”
An SRU spokesperson explained that talks are ongoing with no final decisions made yet, and stressed that the governing body is committed to supporting club rugby at all levels.
A formal communication from the SRU is expected before the end of the month.