THE SGM MOTION proposed by SRU President Dee Bradbury aimed at clarifying where the ‘Club XVs’ of Super 6 teams should play from next season onwards was passed earlier this evening by a fairly comfortable majority via a show of voting cards, meaning that those sides will now be removed from the top flight of what remains of the club game and placed in second tier National One, with promotion back to the Premiership allowed at a rate of one club per season.
Delegates voted in favour of a housekeeping amendment to the motion from Currie Chieftains to protect the name of the Premiership and to guarantee that the four non-Super 6 clubs in that league last season retain their position next season, despite Bradbury urging clubs to oppose that change of wording.
The two other amendments on the table failed to garner sufficient support. The first, which was proposed by Falkirk and seconded by Preston Lodge, called for ‘Club XVs’ to be removed from the national league structure altogether and placed in a reserve league. The second, which was proposed by Haddington and seconded by Murrayfield Wanderers, called for the ‘Club XVs’ to be placed in National One as per the motion, but for there to be a moratorium on promotion for those teams for the next three seasons.
The Council, Board and Super 6 teams have got what they wanted out of the meeting, but this was hardly a triumphant episode for SRU governance, and it was hard to escape the feeling that clubs voted reluctantly for the motion because the alternative of a status quo (Super 6 ‘Club XVs’ getting to carry on in the Premiership) was even more unpalatable to the majority of delegates.
The meeting started off on a fairly sinister note when Bradbury stated that the motion would be pulled if the Council did not like the way things were shaping up.
“I would like to make it absolutely clear at this stage that it is open to those proposing an amendment to withdraw that amendment at any time before the vote on that amendment, and, similarly, if the underlying motion is amended materially and therefore becomes something significantly different from the motion the Council approved when requisitioning the meeting, it is also open to the Council to withdraw its own motion, acting through me as President, Chair of Council and Chair of the Meeting. I should add that Council has considered this possibility and is prepared to withdraw its motion should the need arise.”
Against this backdrop, several club delegates expressed their disappointment during the course of the meeting at the way this whole Agenda 3/Super 6 saga has been handled by Murrayfield, with the SRU’s refusal to provide clarity on the prospect of dual registering Super 6 players to clubs in the national league structure a particular bone of contention.
A fourth amendment which dealt with this issue, proposed by GHA, was blocked from making it onto the diet for the meeting by SRU General Counsel Robert Howat earlier this week. This amendment had sought to clarify that the movement of players between club rugby and Super 6 will 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.
Howat ruled that this was not closely enough linked to the issue of league structure to merit inclusion. A point of view which was not shared by at least some of the delegates at the meeting.
“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 of Hamilton Rugby Club. “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.”
There was also a complaint that the SRU have refused to circulate a report on player safety compiled by their Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Robson, which was cited as part of the rationale for the motion.