Premiership and National One clubs agree against ‘playing down’ of Super 6 players

Major bone of contention appears to have been resolved amicably just five days after stormy SGM meeting

Super 6
SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson at the announcement of the successful Super 6 applicants last April. Image: © Craig Watson -

A MEETING of Premiership and National One clubs [including the Super 6 license-holders] agreed last night that the ‘playing down’ of Super 6 players should not be allowed. The decision was reached after a lengthy discussion and apparently must now be ratified by the Board. A couple of Super 6 clubs argued vehemently in favour of allowing Super 6 players to turn out for club teams in the national league framework but were heavily outnumbered in the end.

A lack of clarity on this issue was one of the major bones of contention at last Friday night’s stormy Special General Meeting of the Scottish Rugby Union which was held to decide where the ‘Clubs XVs’ of Super 6 teams should play in the national league structure from next season onwards. The motion put forward by the SRU Council carried in the end, meaning that these sides will be removed from the top tier Premiership and placed in the league below (National One), but a number of delegates expressed their dissatisfaction before the vote that they were having to make a big decision without having access to all the relevant facts.

“I am disappointed that we are being asked to vote on where we are placing teams without knowing what players are going to be in those teams,” said Ross Whiteside, President of Hamilton Rugby Club, just before the motion was voted on. “I think that is a relevant point going forward, there has been plenty of time – a year and a half of discussion – and yet we still don’t know the protocols for the interacting between teams and Super 6 clubs to get players to and from them. I think that is a major problem when it comes to making a decision on this but unfortunately we are going to have to support the motion.”

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An amendment to the motion from GHA aimed at providing clarity on this issue was rejected four days before the meeting by SRU General Counsel Robert Howat on the grounds of relevancy.

It is bizarre that this issue appears to have been sorted out so easily and relatively amicably, just five days after it created a huge amount of ill-feeling towards the SRU (and by extension Super 6 clubs) at the SGM, and it reinforces the impression that the whole process of launching Super 6 could have run far more smoothly with a bit more forethought and empathy shown towards the clubs not involved.

The decision not to allow ‘playing down’ is in line with point 6.1.2 of the ‘Super 6 Tournament – Franchise Information’ which was issued in November 2017. It stated that: “During the period of their contract Super 6 players will play fixtures only as directed by the head coach. They will not play in any fixture in which amateur players are engaged. Penalties for breaching this regulation may be substantial for both head coach and player.”

This does, however, create a potential issue of contracted players struggling to get regular game time if they are not being selected for their Super 6 team.

Long Read: SGM was a new low in SRU governance


About David Barnes 3800 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.


  1. So where are we now with Super 6 teams?
    35 contracted players each – is this correct? And none of these players can ‘play down’ into an ‘amateur’ club below Super 6?
    Can Pro players unused by their Pro Teams ‘play down’ into Super 6 as they do at present through the draft into the premiership? If so, are ‘drafted players’ likely to play in Super 6 included in the 35 player squad or in addition to it? By my reckoning there were 136 pro appearances in Premiership 1 this season (plus 36 substitute appearances). A similar rate of release next season over 10 weeks would see approximately 14 players getting released every week – 2 or 3 per team. So we could have 10 players in the 35 player squad not being selected each week and not getting any game time. And what about Fosroc Academy players – do they have to be included in the Super 6 35 player squad or are they additional to it? And if they are in the 35 player squad will they be paid out of the Super 6 club budget or out of the Fosroc Academy budget?
    Just questions for clarification.

  2. It also means Stewart’s Melville will have to rely on their own players without being enhanced by part-time pro Heriots’ players being parachuted down to play in National 2!

  3. At last – sanity breaks out in Scottish rugby!

    This is good news and will ensure that the S6 sides won’t be enhancing their amateur side to the detriment of the other Nat 2 sides

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