GLASGOW Hawks president Kenny Hamilton has called for an investigation into the awarding of Super 6 franchises on the grounds that a key commitment by the SRU has been overlooked.
Hamilton, whose club’s application was unsuccessful meaning that there won’t be a team from the country’s biggest city in the new league, has pointed out that the Franchise Information Pack issued by Murrayfield last November explicitly states that there will be at least one franchise from each of the country’s four regions – and no more than two from any single area. While all four regions are represented, three of the six franchises selected by the SRU-appointed review panel, and rubber-stamped by the SRU Board, have gone to Edinburgh clubs – Boroughmuir, Heriot’s and Watsonians.
The Information Pack states that:
“Scottish Rugby will select at least one applicant from each of the four regions of Scotland and not more than two in any region. Each successful applicant (including co-applicants where there is a syndicated application) will then be awarded a five year franchise to become a member of the Super 6 Tournament.”
Asked by The Offside Line to explain this apparent abandonment of a central plank of the whole Super 6 project, a spokesperson for the SRU said:
“The Franchise Information document was prepared as guidance on the overall process, long before any applications were submitted and before Scottish Rugby reached a concluded view on what the regional composition of Super 6 might look like.
“The selection of the successful franchises was based solely on the criteria evaluation set out by the Review Panel which had a remit to determine the strongest bids. Under the terms of the application process, the Scottish Rugby Board had the final decision on which clubs were selected and Scottish Rugby believes it has selected the most robust applicants for the Super 6.”
Hamilton’s complaint, however, has nothing to do with the “robustness” of the applicants or the assessment of the Review Panel. Instead, he believes that clubs lodged their bids believing that the distribution of franchises would be made as stated in the Information Pack. And, while the pledge to have a maximum of two franchises per region may not have been repeated in print subsequently, Hamilton and his club are convinced there was a general understanding that it remained SRU policy.
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“I have to say that I find the statement bewildering and certainly bordering on downright dishonest. The applicants made their submission in line with the criteria that were set out in the original documents issued on 20th November.
“That document, I understand, was issued after a great deal of careful consideration. As far as I am aware no alteration was made or agreed by the Board after that date. Or at least none that was transmitted to the applicants.
“This appears to be an attempt to cover a serious error that has been made. Our application to serve the rugby community of Glasgow was rejected, but we now do not know against what shifting criteria it was found wanting.
“Similarly, all of the bids have apparently been assessed against criteria only known to the Assessment Panel. This is not a credible or transparent process and needs to be investigated thoroughly.”
Speaking earlier in the day at the media launch of Super 6, Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson said:
“We did say that we wanted one in each area and we have [that]. The other two are in Edinburgh because they were the best bids. We chose them on that basis. Would I have wanted a strong bid in Glasgow? I would, obviously. But you guys [the media] would have held us to account on this. So, if we hadn’t chosen the best bids and used geography as a convenience – and that franchise wasn’t strong enough to survive – we would have been criticised for that.
“The truth of the matter is, the Hawks bid was a very good one, a very smart bid, but it wasn’t as good as the ones we have pushed through today. I feel their pain. I know this causes them a problem. It was always going to lead to a transition moment from not being a Super 6 franchise. We are there to help them, I have offered my help. We will meet with all the committees of clubs who weren’t successful to work with them.”
“The fact of the matter is you judge the values of the bids across the piece. We didn’t believe – on a whole list of things, including governance and commerciality – that it was as strong and sustainable as other bids.”