THE winner and runner-up of the BT Premiership play-offs are set to play against clubs from Italy’s semi-professional “Eccellenza” league next season.
Two dates in September and two in November have been set aside for the cross-border fixtures, with the possibility of another couple of rounds of matches in February/March of 2017.
The SRU will fund the competition to expose club players to a higher level of rugby in an effort to bridge the ever widening gap between the amateur and the professional game – however, some leading figures in the club game remain frustrated about the lack of opportunities for top clubs to move forward as semi-professional entities.
While they welcome this initiative as a positive step, it does seem to be a sticking plaster solution to a fundamental problem facing Scottish rugby of how the top of the club game fits in to the performance tier.
A vote by club representatives at the last Premiership Forum meeting decided that the play-off winners and runners-up should be put forward for this competition, rejecting the possibility of a system based on the old district set-up.