Scrapping of Super Series confirmed as part of new ‘Male Performance Pathway’ vision

A new 'Professional Game Agreement' will ensure minimum numbers of Scottish Qualified players in pro team squads

Some key figures in Scottish Rugby's performance department watch as Super Series game between Boroughmuir Bears and Southern Knight at Meggetland back in 2022. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Some key figures in Scottish Rugby's performance department watch as Super Series game between Boroughmuir Bears and Southern Knight at Meggetland back in 2022. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE scrapping of Super Series has been confirmed as part of a new ‘Male Performance Pathway’ model for Scottish Rugby, which has has been designed following a review of the existing structure by a Scottish Rugby appointed focus group assisted by ‘Oakwell Sports Advisory’ consultancy.

The six clubs directly involved were informed at a meeting on Wednesday night that Scottish Rugby will not renew Super Series licenses beyond the end of the current five-year agreements which are due to run out after this Autumn’s Championship campaign. Murrayfield has left the ball in the clubs’ court as to whether they wish to terminate the league before that and The Offside Line understands that while no unified final decision has yet been made, the strong consensus is to not carry on after this Spring’s Sprint competition.

The new performance pathway plan also envisages the reinstatement of Scotland ‘A’ fixtures, a move towards professional ‘A’ team games and an expanded academy set-up in which the age ceiling will be lifted from the current under-20 bracket (at which point players either get senior pro contracts, move abroad or drop out of the full-time pro game) to under-23. The general thrust is to immerse up-and-coming players more fully in the full-time pro environment, whilst using the traditional club structure as a backstop to provide game-time as and when appropriate.


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“We need to make sure we create the right environments for our players and we need to make sure we have a focus on players ‘playing-up’ to drive and challenge them more,” said Stevie Gemmell, Scottish Rugby’s Technical and Operations Director, who chaired yesterday’s press briefing.

“A key area is also our under-18 players,” he added. “They are the lifeblood of our game moving forward at all level so we need to look at how we develop more players coming out of clubs and schools at youth level who can go into our adult game at all levels of the game.

“And we have to acknowledge the Scottish context. We have a limit on resources available in terms of players, volunteers, finance and everything else. We’ve got a build a model that is right for Scotland.”

In addition, a new ‘Professional Game Agreement’ will be created to ensure minimum numbers of Scottish Qualified players in Scotland’s two professional team squads, and a more formal approach to succession planing in key playing positions connecting into the national team.

Scottish Rugby’s Club Rugby Board [CRB] will now lead a consultation with Premiership and National League clubs – including Super Series parent clubs – to determine the transition arrangements for the domestic leagues in light of the demise of Super Series.

As it stands, the ‘Club XVs’ of both Heriot’s and Ayr are already in the Premiership next season, Watsonians and Melrose will be in National One, Stirling County are almost certain to be in National Two and Boroughmuir will be in National Three. All these teams would like to be back in the Premiership but repatriating them is not a straightforward task given that other teams will have to be displaced or league sizes will have to be altered.

The hard feelings generated by the highly dubious tactics used by Scottish Rugby to force through the original changes required to set up Super Series, notably at an SGM back in 2018, will inevitably add an edge to negotiations.

The Scottish Rugby Limited Board and the Scottish Rugby Union Board have promised that any change in league configuration will be based around the principles of –

  • As fair to as many clubs as possible
  • Least disruption to 10 team National League structures and regional leagues
  • No club to be seriously inconvenienced

“It is going to be a big challenge, but I’m really encouraged by what’s been happening with breaking down the silos,” said SRU Vice-President Keith Wallace, who is Chair of the CRB. “With the focus group for the pathways review we deliberately put some in there individuals we knew would really challenge the different points of view, and they came to a consensus … pretty much. So, that’s why I am optimistic that we can find a solution if we make sure people have a good feel for the situation.”

 

 

The update also promises that increased investment will be committed to under-18 rugby, the pro team academies and age-grade representative rugby, which suggests that little or none of the savings made from disbanding Super Series will be transferred to the club game.

This blueprint was put forward despite the fact Scottish Rugby is currently recruiting a new Chief Executive and a new Director of Performance Rugby, with Gemmell acknowledging that the financials for the plan have not yet been nailed down.

“All the costs will go through the budget process, and Scottish Rugby Ltd will make a decision about what funding is made available,” he said.

Scottish Rugby recorded a £10.5m loss in the last financial year.


Q&A: Scottish Rugby’s Male Performance Pathway Review update

About David Barnes 3891 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.

37 Comments

  1. There’s stories going about that Stirling and Boroughmuir are expecting to be let back in Prem next season, I’m not sure how that will work regarding the other teams in the prem but that sounds like a terrible idea for club relations with SRU.

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  2. It is a shame Super 6 has gone. I think the initial model made sense to try and bridge a gap between the club and pro game.
    Unfortunately too many players were “signed” who were never going to make the pros, because their time had come and gone.
    There is no doubt in my mind that our under 20s definitely benefitted from regular super 6 competition in a better environment and these players have definitely improved and we’re a tougher proposition now than the last few years at u20 level.
    In my opinion we need to be limiting the number of age 25+ players and filling these teams with 18 to 24 year olds who end up playing age grade international and hopefully move into the pro game because of the pathway they’ve been on.

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  3. I think it’s a massive shame that the Super 6 / Super Series has come to an end. From what I saw this was a step up from Premiership and allowed up to 21 games per season in a higher level and more professional environment. Part of the problem was that a lot of promising 18, 19 and even 20 year olds struggled to break into teams but this could potentially have been better managed by the SRU, professional Academies and Super 6 franchises. I suspect that this was why the U20s were split into a separate team and also to get functional groups playing together – based on the U20s this year it is probably premature to say that this didn’t have benefit, although I preferred the previous model of 6 teams.
    I can’t really see any benefits of the new structure and I would be very surprised if they can find 10 competitive A Team fixtures for the two professional teams. As a consequence Academy / fringe Professional players will either get very limited game time or be playing a level so far below the professional level that it will not develop them and their introduction (for the more established professionals) could almost be dangerous (for premiership players) given the gap.
    Finally I think a popular (at least at a number of Super 6 clubs), attractive and very watchable product, both on TV – with a lot of televised matches and in person (in warmer months) is being discarded. I attended many well attended games with a very good atmosphere. I would say that the level was lower than the English Championship but not much and the matches were less physical but faster paced – which is more entertaining and better suited to the Scottish national style of play.

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  4. Well the worst kept secret is out no more S6 now the bun fight starts fir the clubs who have not made it back to the Premiership to start moaning about they should be automatically put back there. What redundancy package will the S6 coaches receive. As for the new pathway I said a while back the most dangerous person in Scottish rugby right now is John Fletcher who will destroy a generation of players with his and his little minions of yes coaches and the farce of the not fit for purposes Academy. Ask any club or school dealing with the Academies and what should be aspirational fir the players is
    A complete pain most of the time being moaned at for not making a thousand sessions a week being told to miss club sessions for Academy.

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  5. Well the worst kept secret is out no more S6 now the bun fight starts fir the clubs who have not made it back to the Premiership to start moaning about they should be automatically put back there. What redundancy package will the S6 coaches receive. As for the new pathway I said a while back the most dangerous person in Scottish rugby right now is John Fletcher who will destroy a generation of players with his and his little minions of yes coaches and the farce of the not fit for purposes Academy. Ask any club or school dealing with the Academies and what should be aspirational fir the players is
    A complete pain most of the time being moaned at for not making a thousand sessions a week being told to miss club sessions for Academy. We all want a world class system that inspire players coaches clubs schools but just now it is no where near that a the vast majority know it however if the people at the top can’t get it right what chance does a young 16 year old have.

  6. As I think contractual promises were made when moving to S6, the only way to reintegrate maybe…

    New Top flight “Premiership+” of 10 created starting Sept-2024.
    S6 sides placed in it, plus top 4 teams promoted from Prem.

    All other divisions ripple UP as appropriate.
    Everyone’s a winner.

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    • Do you actually realise what this means for club rugby Andy? Talent development is being shifted entirely away from the club game. Surely you can see that?

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      • Everything was shifted away from club rugby when this ludicrous “competition” was introduced. Slowly it is being realised that club rugby is better than franchise rugby which is at least a step in the right direction even though it will take years to repair the damage done to Scottish rugby by Dodson.

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    • Club rugby has never been away but now the SRU mite try and get a sponsor for the Scottish cup

  7. Who would have thought paying six teams full of a bunch of 25+ year olds to play rugby wouldn’t lead to better youth prospects

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  8. Nothing will change until those who are charged with coaching the up and coming youth go on effective management and communication courses, or advertise externally for their positions. The way they handle themselves is shockingly poor.

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  9. Already to many rules and regulations….I don’t think anybody understand them…but no doubt this new structure will equally confuse us.
    On a personal note, I have an 18 year old son who has played approx 40 minutes of National One rugby this season…not enough players for a 2nds team and can not play for the other team in the town because they are in a Regional league…Absolute nonsense…Players should be playing rugby especially at this stage of their development. What will he be doing this Saturday afternoon…X Box probably.

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    • Nice one…parenting with a 60’s approach.

      The point I am trying to make is the rules covering when players can play and for which level of team need to be looked at to allow young players to develop.

      In my sons case Mr AngryGala2..he has came off the bench and played National 1 for Gala 1sts twice. Basically due to injuries and players unavailability. Now, SRU rules stipulate that as he has ‘played National 1 rugby’..approx 40 minutes in total he can not play down to a regional 3 level. This hasn’t increased his opportunities or rugby development, in fact that has placed him in ‘rugby limbo’ land. I’m guessing, going by your name that you may be familiar with Gala rugby. Then, the other adult team in Gala is Gala YM, who play in East Regional 3. The YM would play him but can not.

      So he has gone from a full season playing for the U16’s Gal Red Triangle then a full season of games at U18’s Gala Wanderers to the occasional 2nds game if they have the numbers. And we wonder why there’s such a drop off of players at 18+….Yes, there are other sports. In fact he’s talking about playing football.

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      • Mr AngryGala2….

        This afternoons been resolved….pulled into the Gala 1sts squad at the last minute. On his way to Inverness to play Highland🥴

    • It must be said you are never going to win an argument or make a valid point by starting off your response with ‘Sounds like poor parenting’ especially when it was reasonably obvious that the basis wa sabout regulations that probhibited playing for YM because he had turned out for Gala in some respects to make up numbers. As for the X box I took that as a bit of a throw away line something akin to ‘twiddling thumbs’ in front of the Fire. Let’s focus on how the Grassroots supporters can influence as best they can a way forward now that SS6 like a Mayfly has departed.

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    • Colin I agree, I think some of the rules surrounding players moving clubs etc are really outdated… we can blame certain clubs for that, not naming any names but I was in a relegation battle with a certain (now disbanded) club, and they brought in 5 players from the surrounding area who all played in the premiership/top national leagues as those teams had a week off… we lost, meaning they stayed up and we got relegated. The tightening of moving clubs and playing for dual reg clubs changed in a big way the season or two after, and now we have situations like your sons.

      • Simple answer would be to age band movement between clubs/leagues. U23, no problem/limit, just get them playing. Maybe limit how many imports a club can have in a match day squad.

    • Let’s hope you don’t have any children to inherit your behaviours and attitudes. It’s just a shame your parents did.

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    • Dreadful response. At least Colin has the decency to use his actual name and making a valid point about the regulations.

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    • Angry Gala 2
      Your really on another planet by your comment
      UTTER NUTTER .
      Ps .
      See you at Netherdale next year for some real blood and guts rugby

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      • Wow I was lost untill David Barnes cleared up where AngryG had gone to, there are two or three that need to be on notice, DB. Sadly their good points are lost when people don’t read the outpourings, because of the rantings ?

    • Jeesus…that is some comment giving you know nothing about the family situation..wow, where do you get your brass neck…..and you arr a pail merk!
      Wind

    • Jeesus…that is some comment giving you know nothing about the family situation..wow..wow, where do you get your brass neck…please never say that to someone again. This is a rugby forum, not a ” my uninformed opinion on familes forum!

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      • Mike, the comment is a disgrace and has been removed. AngryGala2 can consider himself on notice that he needs to raise his level of discourse if he wants to continue using this forum.

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  10. My first point is that it would make much more sense ending at the end of the sprint campaign – this allows the players to find new clubs before the beginning of the new season in September (albeit with a shorter break) – also, what will the players and coaches attitudes be during the campaign knowing it’s all about to end – this won’t do anyone any good.

    If they’ve a plan to integrate the sides back into the Premiership, they can only do so without the expense of another club – so a 14 team Premiership first season, then weakest 5 teams relegated and things can start to take their natural order. This is going to be the hardest thing to do as, no doubt, one club or another is going to be at a disadvantage with whatever decisions are made.

    Can they transfer over some of the facilities and resources that were being used to the Premiership to improve its standard and give it a more professional feel, like televising some games, having sru assist with player/team statistics, which is important data to help drive playing quality.

    Lastly, can they use the re-instated district championship and a Scotland club XV set up to try drive bridge the gap? The best players from the league season go into a training camp in a professional environment to train and play in. This can feed the Scotland club XV, which could then effectively feed the pro teams?

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    • Each of these franchise holders have a Club xv in the existing national league structure, therefore the least disruption to that structure is no change to that structure.

      The Union made great play of the fact that the players in the franchises were professional, and told Clubs that it’s not safe for professionals to play against amateurs, the challenge is then how we safely integrate these pro players into the existing national league structure.

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      • In the old premiership (Amateur) full time pro players from Edinburgh and Glasgow ouwld regularly guest for associated clubs. You could have a full International player turning out for the amateur premiership team, but yet the clubs weren’t allowed to play Semi Pro players from their own club in the next tier down. Meaning a number of good players would always be denied game time. Will we be going back to pro players coming down to Premiership for game time?

  11. What an absolute shambles.
    Mr Gemmell and others failed to manage s6. The Union paid the wages of s6 coaches but failed to manage them . They could easily have influenced game time for chosen players had they seen fit to.
    We have no chance of sorting this with the same people in charge and no chance with Mr Wallace who over the years has shown he has no understanding of the game at a higher level.
    The answer seems to be let’s change everything thats been put in place . We have no idea what we need to do so will ask around and get the clubs to decide.
    Historically that means a difference answer for every day but hey not our oroblem we can blame the clubs this time
    Is this the 10 year plan? By the Same folk
    Throttled by those who failed to win their arguments pre S6
    Thus isn’t a popularity contest its the future of our game.
    What a mess

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