AN update on Super 6 was issued by the SRU yesterday [Wednesday] evening, providing confirmation of a number of details which were already common knowledge, whilst also adding meat to the bones of a few other matters which had been widely speculated, but also leaving an awful lot still unresolved (or unsaid).
The document told us that –
- Each Super 6 club has signed an identical ‘License Agreement’ – with “the agreements themselves being based upon the content of the Franchise Information documents originally released to all clubs in November 2017.”
- Super 6 teams will play 20 competitive fixtures each season, comprising of 10 x domestic Super 6 fixtures (home and away); 2 x domestic Super 6 play-off fixtures; and 8 x cross-border fixtures (still presumed to be against Welsh clubs although there is a lack of clarity on the ground in Wales as to what the WRU are proposing for next season) .
- With Rugby World Cup 2019 taking place this year, the Super 6 teams have agreed to start the initial 2019-20 tournament after the Rugby World Cup Final and to avoid scheduling fixtures on Guinness 6 Nations weekends. The cross-border competition will then follow on from the domestic tournament, as shown below –
- Player recruitment began on 1st February. The Super 6 head coaches and teams have agreed to follow the same recruitment protocol as the current Tennent’s Premiership, being that the head coach of the Super 6 team will first contact the head coach of the other club before approaching one of their players.
- All Super 6 players who are employees (how many will not be employees?) will be recruited and employed by the relevant club on a part-time professional basis under a written contract of part-time employment. They will be employed and registered by the relevant club to play for their Super 6 team.
- For the initial 2019-20 season, all Super 6 clubs will operate a squad budget of £125,000, of which Scottish Rugby will contribute £62,500. The £125,000 figure includes players’ wages and benefits in kind, but excludes bona fide reasonable expenses which would be subject to HMRC rules. The maximum salary level for individual players is £12,000 per season. However, this does not mean that every Super 6 player will be paid £12,000 per season. In practice, payments will be structured to ensure that players are rewarded for ability, potential and the training and playing programme they actually partake in.
- Each Super 6 team will operate through a 35-player squad.
Note: At this point, the document lays out an argument as to why Super 6 should NOT be regarded as putting a strain on player resources elsewhere in the club game. It is worth repeating that argument verbatim here so as to avoid any sort of misinterpretation.
Super 6 is not creating 6 new rugby clubs. The clubs awarded Super 6 licences already had many of the top players in the country registered with them.
However, as has always been the case, some players may choose to move through the domestic league structure and have the freedom to make the choice most suitable for them.
In general, these will be talented young players who have the ability and desire to play at the highest level they possibly can. All stakeholders in Scottish Rugby should encourage young players who wish to test themselves at that level.
In contrast, some players of Super 6 quality may not consider Super 6 to be for them. They may decide to remain at a club without a Super 6 team, or if already at a club with a Super 6 team, to remain at that club but play for that club’s own Club XV.
The 210 players proposed to be involved in Super 6 are not “new” players that need to be found. These players are already playing in the domestic game in one form or another. In their original bids, each club awarded a Super 6 licence identified that a majority of their Super 6 squad would likely come from their current 1st XV, supplemented by capable players from other clubs who themselves have decided that they wish to test themselves at a higher level.
The Club XVs of those clubs awarded Super 6 licences will likely be made up of players either unwilling or not capable of playing in their club’s Super 6 team, as well as some members of the club’s current 2nd XV. The composition and playing level of the Club XVs of those clubs awarded Super 6 licences will likely vary from club to club. Equally, the clubs awarded Super 6 licences may lose their ability to run a 2nd XV or 3rd XV in addition to their Club XV, as players move to their Super 6 team, move to a different team within their club, or move to a different club entirely. This is a consequence that each of the clubs awarded Super 6 licences acknowledges and accepts.
Players will continue to have the freedom to choose to play rugby for whichever club they decide, and at whatever level is available to them based on their own individual ambition and skill-set.
- Each Super 6 squad will include five Stage-3 FOSROC Academy players. These players are currently contracted by Scottish Rugby and will remain so whilst playing in Super 6. Initial discussions have taken place with the Super 6 team head coaches to determine how best to allocate the FOSROC Academy players equitably among the teams.
- In season 2019-20, professional players from Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby may play in Super 6. However, this will be on an ad-hoc individual player basis that will see such professional players allocated to a Super 6 team by the High Performance Department as and when required. With 2019 being a Rugby World Cup year, it is not envisaged that many professional players will be made available to play in Super 6, therefore the traditional “draft” system will not be implemented for the 2019-20 Super 6 season.
- One of the original criticisms of the proposed 35-player Super 6 team squad was that there would be several players within those squads who were not able to play rugby every weekend. To seek to avoid the scenario of these players not playing, the clubs awarded Super 6 licences are willing to discuss the possibility of players being dual registered with clubs not playing in Super 6.
- From season 2019-20 onwards, Scottish Rugby will introduce a new Super 6 category into the existing Scottish Rugby Player Reward Scheme. This is an additional investment by Scottish Rugby into the game in Scotland that is designed to acknowledge the important role that clubs and schools will have played in the development of Super 6 players. Scottish Rugby will make £400 available for each player from a non-Super 6 club who signs a contract of part-time employment to play for a Super 6 team. Each such player will be asked to identify the non-Super 6 clubs and schools which have contributed to their development over the 5-year period prior to signing the relevant Super 6contract (i.e. £80 per year). Players will not be able to nominate a Super 6 Club XV for any element of this payment. Payment will be dealt with in the same way as the existing Scottish Rugby Player Reward Scheme.
- Each club awarded a Super 6 licence has identified an appropriate permanent single venue with sufficient primacy of use from where (under normal conditions) it will play its home matches, so that the facilities used by Super 6 teams are of a suitably high standard and can be invested in accordingly (for example, through the provision of floodlighting and an all-weather pitch, and so that players, supporters and commercial partners can identify with that ‘home’ ground.
- As per the Franchise Information document issued in November 2017, it was noted that the prospect of having a World Rugby compliant all-weather pitch would be beneficial to any bid. Scottish Rugby maintains the stance that the creation of these pitches would be a positive addition to the game in Scotland. Scottish Rugby is working with the clubs awarded Super 6 licences and relevant governmental bodies to support that process during the 5-year Super 6 licence period. Equally, where a club awarded a Super 6 licence does not currently have working floodlights in place at its single playing venue, that club will be working towards having such floodlighting operational within the 5-year Super 6 licence period. Otherwise, all other facility and venue requirements remain in place as per the Franchise Information document issued in November 2017.
- Discussions are ongoing, both internally and with other Unions, as to what the Club International XV competition and Scotland Club International XV fixture list might look like moving forward (including what category of player should be permitted to play). The running of the Scotland Club International XV will move to the Rugby Development department from 2019/20, with support from the High Performance department.
- The potential future expansion of Super 6 remains a possibility. Scottish Rugby has already established Super 6 task forces in each of Glasgow, the Borders and Caledonia for the following primary purpose.