SRU issues Super Six franchise information pack

Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE Scottish Rugby Union issued the franchise information pack for their Super Six initiative to all rugby clubs in Scotland yesterday [Monday], and also published the document on their own website.

Super Six will be a part-time professional league operating at the summit of the club game from season 2019-20 onwards. The six participating teams will be franchised from the SRU with the stated objective of making “the top tier of domestic rugby an ever more effective feeder of talent into the full-time professional game.”

It was confirmed that there will be no promotion in to or relegation out of that division for the first five years of the competition. There will be one franchise from each of the four traditional rugby districts [East Scotland, West Scotland, Caledonia and the Borders] with two ‘floating’ franchises.

In a change to the initial plan unveiled back in August, full-time professional players will be allowed to play in this league. Three franchises will be aligned to Edinburgh and three franchises will be aligned to Glasgow Warriors which will provide the basis of sharing players and various other resources.

The SRU’s contribution towards a full-time head coach and part-time support staff has risen from £65,000 to £75,000. It was made clear that franchisees must contribute at least £62,500 towards player payments but can spend more if their accounts stack up.

A summary of the key points from the 36 page document is provided below –

 

3.4 Franchise award process

Invitations to all clubs in the Union to apply for a franchise will be issued on 20th November 2017, after which interested parties may ask questions. How this will be done will be advised.

On 20th December 2017 a questionnaire and application form will be issued. Returned questionnaires will be discussed informally between responding clubs and an executive team from Scottish Rugby who will provide advice and guidance on anything more applicants could do to support their case. Any additional supporting evidence will then be submitted, after which the club’s representatives will be interviewed by Scottish Rugby’s assessors.

Final applications must have been received by 30th March 2018. The successful applicants will be selected during April 2018. The six franchisees will be announced on 1st May 2018. Scottish Rugby’s decision will be final.

3.5 The Championship in 2019-20

For the purposes of this section, the “Top 12” is the Premiership clubs in 2018-19, together with the clubs finishing in the top two positions in National 1 in 2018-19.

In relation to individual franchises (who finish in Top 12 in season 2018-19) or syndicates of up to two clubs (who both finish in Top 12 in 2018-19), their senior amateur team will play in National League 1 in 2019-20. This is related to the sustainability of each senior amateur team and their ability to remain competitive in 2019-20, given the potential material loss of their current first XV players being signed by the franchise.

In relation to syndicates of three or more clubs (who finish in Top 12 in 2018-19), their senior amateur teams will play in the Championship in 2019-20. It is deemed that the potential effect of each amateur team losing players to the franchisee will be reduced as this will be shared by each club in the franchise.

4.1 The Franchise Board

The executive committee of each franchised club, syndicate or institution will establish a franchise board. The members will be responsible for:

  • ensuring that the franchisee complies with the terms, conditions and requirements of its franchise agreement
  • supervising the management of the Super 6 squad’s operations on and off the field so that they remain consistent with the model and concept set out in franchise agreement.

The Board will have five members. The executive committee(s) of the club or clubs will appoint three members. All of them must be signatories to the franchise agreement on behalf of the club or clubs or institution they represent.

The High Performance department of Scottish Rugby will appoint one member to represent its interest as the franchisor. These four members will appoint the head coach in consultation with and subject to agreement by the Technical Director of Scottish Rugby. The head coach will then be co-opted as a full member ex officio of the franchise board.

The franchise board will not have any jurisdiction over the internal affairs of the club. However it will consider and discuss with the executive committee all issues that affect a club’s willingness and ability to comply with its obligations under the franchise agreement.

4.3 Funding model

The total value of funds to be invested in the direct costs of each Super 6 squad is a matter for the franchisee. Through their franchise boards, franchisees must fund players’ wages (including benefits in kind but excluding other payroll costs) to a minimum £125,000, of which Scottish Rugby will contribute £62,500. Scottish Rugby will also contribute to each franchise a further £75,000 towards the cost of the head coach and other support staff. Thus Scottish Rugby’s total financial commitment will be £137,500 per franchise or £825,000 across all franchises.

Direct costs of the Super 6 squad Scottish Rugby total £ Club minimum £
Players’ wages and benefits in kind for a squad of 35 (excluding payroll costs). 62,500 62,500
Head coach and support staff 75,000 No max or min
Total 137,500

Scottish Rugby will continue to support clubs that play cross-border fixtures in the same way it has done in the past. Payment will be made for travel and other associated costs, the exact figure to be agreed before the start of the season, taking into account the distance and logistics involved for each Super 6 team.

4.4 Income and expenditure

It is an objective of Super 6 rugby that, because Super 6 teams will play to the highest standards in their region, the quality of play will improve club membership numbers, gate takings, sponsorships and advertising. Income generated by the club from any source may be retained and applied by the franchisee without any restriction.

5.1 The Head coach

All Super 6 squad and squad support matters on and off the pitch pivot around the head coach. This appointment is made by the club’s franchise board in consultation with, and subject to, the agreement of Scottish Rugby’s High Performance department.

The head coach will have a direct responsibility to the Technical Director of Scottish Rugby to raise the quality of the squad’s play in line with professional standards.

The responsibilities of head coaches are wider than just squad and team selections and team performance. The job is that of a general manager, and extends therefore to all aspects of managing the budget for the franchise, the planning and fulfilment of its fixtures and assessing and prioritising development of players, support staff, equipment and facilities.

Franchise boards and head coaches should understand that the responsibilities of a head coach are only for the Super 6 squad and its support staff.

The job of head coach is a full-time salaried appointment and most assistant coaches and other support staff will also be remunerated. None of these may play in any Super 6 fixture.

5.2.1 Responsibility for selection

The head coach is responsible for building a squad of 35. In doing this they must keep the confidence of the Technical Director of Scottish Rugby and of the franchise board, both of which are required to confirm the squad’s composition before the season starts. The club’s executive committee must also be kept informed.

In building a squad for the season, the head coach is responsible for managing the budget agreed between the franchise board and its executive committee.

5.2.3  Academy members

The Head of Academy will nominate which Stage 3 and Stage 2 members are available for the forthcoming season. The aim of the Academy will be to propose availability of players so that the interest of a player’s development is served, which is its first concern. Players will be made available on a strictly regional basis. Head coaches are free to accept or reject nominations.

The Academy will retain, and exercise where and when it sees fit, the right to direct the playing, training, rest and medical decisions for any of its members.

 

5.3.2 Full-time professionals

Although not included in the 35-man squad, a full-time professional player employed by Scottish Rugby may be made available to play in a Super 6 team. This is to provide game time to these players. Such assignments will be a matter for the Super 6 clubs and the professional club with which they are partnered. Allocations will be at the sole discretion of the High Performance department and any decision will be made by individual case.

When a professional player is made available to the Super 6 franchises, allocation will be:

  • Launch season – an allocation will be made to one of the clubs partnered with the professional club through an open ballot
  • Season 2 onwards – the allocation will be made in the first instance by offer to the lowest ranked franchise club partnered by the relevant professional club and then, if necessary, to others using the same ‘next lowest’ principle.

5.5 Fixtures

Super 6 teams will play 20 competitive fixtures each season. The fixture list will be composed of:

  • Super 6 Tournament fixtures home and away
  • Super 6 Tournament play-off fixtures
  • cross-border fixtures.

6.1.1 Contracts of employment

All players in a Super 6 squad will be employed on part-time professional contracts by the franchisee. Contracts will be issued for one season at a time, and will run for nine months from July to March inclusive.

6.1.2 Restriction on play

During the period of their contract Super 6 players will play fixtures only as directed by the head coach. They will not play in any fixture in which amateur players are engaged. Penalties for breaching this regulation may be substantial for both head coach and player.

6.2 Rates of pay

Clubs will be responsible for funding and administering the player payroll, including any additional statutory costs. The contractual rates of pay for each player during a season will recognise:

  • scheduled ‘train and play’ for each player set by the head coach
  • actual approved rest and short-term injury as determined by the head coach
  • medically confirmed long-term injury.

Payments made to players by the franchised club do not affect amounts separately agreed between any player and the Academy, and vice versa.

Clubs may not pay any player more than £12,000 in a season. Earnings subject to this cap include benefits in kind supplied or paid for by the club.

Win bonuses or other incentives (such as bonuses for accumulated results or for being tournament champions) may be paid in addition to basic pay, providing that bonuses do not cause the total payment received by any player to exceed the pay cap in force for the season.

The regulations for out-of-pocket expenses will be subject to regulation in line with HMRC rules and regulations.

6.3 Injuries

The player’s contract will describe any provision for payment whilst he is short-term injured*. A player who is medically assessed as long-term injured may have his contract terminated at the discretion of the head coach.

* For this purpose long-term injury means that they would miss 30% or more of the team’s competitive fixtures (six games).

7.1 Single playing venue

Each franchise must identify a permanent domicile at which (under normal conditions) it will play all its home matches. The domicile will be the home ground of the Super 6 franchised club. This requirement needs to be borne in mind where clubs consider combining to bid for a syndicated franchise.

7.2 The ground

Having the use of an all-weather (World Rugby compliant) pitch (or the prospects of so having) together with modern flood lighting on both playing and training pitches will influence the award of franchises.

Super 6 franchise grounds will take priority for the financial support aimed at developing club facilities financed by or through Scottish Rugby. Scottish Rugby intends that all Super 6 fixtures should be played on all-weather pitches by the end of the initial franchise period.

8.2.2 Universities and colleges

Each franchised club will enter a formal association with at least one university or leading college of higher education.

The partnership  would not preclude a university bidding for a franchise individually or as part of a syndicate.

 

You may also want to read –

Dodson’s dream: Everything there is to know about Scottish Rugby’s ‘Super Six’ proposal

Super Six: The big questions which must be answered – part one

Super Six: The big questions which must be answered – part two

 

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 595 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.