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.

About David Barnes 3995 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.