Aviva Premiership to continue during World Cup?

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Premiership Rugby are threatening to continue with their league programme throughout the World Cup in 2015, despite rugby’s showpiece event taking place at Premiership grounds across the country, according to a report in The Rugby Paper.

Premiership Rugby are reportedly upset with the RFU after they weren’t consulted over the bid for the World Cup. The Premiership will have to take a break in September and October, and coming straight after the off season, it means clubs would face a five month period without any match day income.

Each club is set to lose £1.2 million, it is claimed, and a compensation package of £14 million from the RFU has been sought. The union has yet to agree to their demands, however, instead offering £6 million on the condition that players are released for further home Tests. More money will then follow as part of the agreement, which is up for renewal in 2016.

Leicester Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen was outspoken when quizzed on the matter.

“Until suitable compensation is agreed we should look to play through the World Cup,” said Cohen. “There are ongoing talks between Premiership Rugby and the RFU, but the World Cup was an agreement between the IRB and RFU to which we weren’t a party, so to simply expect us to close down our businesses is simply not acceptable.

“It’s like going back to the bad old days of serfdom and everybody is extremely angry that this agreement was entered into with an expectation that we would shut down. So if there isn’t going to be adequate compensation, we should play through.”

An agreement between the RFU and IRB states that no elite club rugby will be played during the World Cup, however.

“That’s not our problem because both of them entered into an agreement without consulting us in any way, shape or form,” added Cohen. “Why should Leicester as a club be concerned about that?

“Presumably the Premiership playing through the World Cup would be a breach of the IRB regulations, but those regulations are almost certainly a restraint of trade and therefore probably unenforceable.”

What do you think? Do you think a compromise will be reached?

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

20 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership to continue during World Cup?

  1. If the Premiership shuts down during the group stages, as the IRB want, it does mean that there’s going to need to be some MAJOR re-jigging of the whole European calendar for that season. The premiership teams will not want to have to jump straight into the ERCC competitions cold in mid-October. They are going to want to have AP games before-hand. That would mean pusing at least the first two rounds of the ERCC back, maybe even to the point of having them in a block with rounds 3 & 4. I’d guess the LV= will need to be dropped that season too, to prevent the season from running into the IRB International window at the end.

    Also, there *could* be some issue with the Welsh regions as well. After all, there are games being played in Wales, so are the Welsh regions also prevented from playing? If so, that would affect the Pro 12 calendar as well….

  2. I hope an agreement is reached, but I really don’t see why the clubs should suffer because of this. As stated here the agreement is between the IRB and RFU, and if the RFU expected no games to be played, they should have consulted Premiership Rugby before agreeing, and not just assume it would be ok.

    And there aren’t that many games being played at Premiership grounds anyway. So there shouldn’t be too may games (if any) that would be affected.

  3. Surely if rwc games are only at sandy park and kingsholm for the aviva clubs, Gloucester and Exeter can just have away games for the rwc period

    1. The issue is that the IRB don’t want *any* top-flight domestic competition run at the same time as the World Cup in the country (IIRC it only applies to the group stage, but I may be wrong about that). They want the rugby support to be focused solely on the RWC, rather than be “diluted” by the domestic competition. When the RWC is played in the Southern Hemisphere, that’s not normally an issue, as the domestic season has finished by that point.

  4. I want to know which idiot did not think this was a problem years ago when the world cup host was decided.

  5. Can someone clarify what happened in France in ’07? I can’t remember if there was a similar situation.

    Whilst the logic behind not wanting domestic games to interfere with the WC, I sympathise with the Premiership sides here.

    Although, one thing is not clear. Whilst they state the amount of money lost during this time, surely it is not actually lost, but postponed? The games at which they will earn this £1.2million will still be played, simply at a later date.

    1. Yes, the same applied to the Top 14 in France in ’07. The Top 14 started in the last weekend of October. The Heineken cup was also delayed to start in November that year.

    2. jacob, good point, assuming the matches are still played then they will still make that money later. In fact, by playing on during the RWC they will get fewer spectators and make less than if they’d postponed…

  6. Not a problem. Just some sabre rattling by the money men at Premiership looking for cash from the trough. Let them play on and give the junior players their chance, while the megastars are busy – won’t just be the RWC period, as they will all be knackered afterwards too. Impossible to get affordable RWC tickets, even through the club process, so provide some good quality live rugby alternative while RWC is on.

  7. So – the Premiership have only just found out about the RWC in 2015?
    Or were they cynically engineering a situation to try and blackmail a larger compensation package rather than raising concerns when the RFU first started putting a bid to host the competition?

  8. This isn’t a new thing, it’s just it’s only come up in TRP again recently. The PRL have been pushing for compensation for some time.

    I don’t really understand the problem with letting clubs play on, there’s going to be a surge in rugby interest, and not everyone will be able to afford the internationals. As long as there are no conflicting schedules, what’s the problem? People can watch a club game, and stick around to watch the international on the big screens, sounds like a lot of fund.

    The IRB have come up with a daft rule. The RFU have been equally stupid by agreeing to it, without consulting the very people who’s business they’ve just shut down.

    And unless you think there should be midweek games, when exactly are the Aviva clubs supposed to make up for all the missed weeks? Without simply playing straight through the summer into the 16/17 season.

    1. You’re right to say it isn’t new. This situation’s been talked about for ages and has been discussed between the RFU and PRL before now. It *does* need clearing up, though.

      I can see both sides of the argument about letting the Premiership be played in parallel with the RWC. From the IRB side, I can see not wanting to have other competitions taking place as it dilutes the value of broadcast rights, something that they have no doubt had to agree in their contract with ITV(!) when they sold them. The Clubs, however, will still need to pay wages not just for the players, but also all their backroom staff, coaching staff, office, etc while the competition is on.

      For a lot of teams it wouldn’t be an issue to play during the RWC, even those hosting games like Gloucs & Exeter. Sure they would have to work around having a couple of away fixtures early in the season, and bias the second half of the season towards the home games. However, there’s two clubs that will be very restricted in what they do if that were to happen: Cardiff Blues, and Quins (who I support). Whilst neither club is actually hosting games, their ability to schedule games around the commitments at the Millenium Stadium and Twickenham would be a nightmare. Already, whenever there’s an England games at HQ, we find the Quins games re-scheduled to the most unfriendly of kick-offs, which impacts on attendances (and hence gate receipts). With HQ being used for w/e fixtures pretty much from start to finish, we’d not have a home game for the first two months minimum!

      1. I think it would be great if Cardiff could play on. We’ve not had any trouble with matches the day before/after big Mill Stadium games before. On the contrary – we usually get a lot of new people coming in as they’re in Cardiff for the whole weekend and our ground is right next door to the MS so they see it as a great way to spend, for example, the Fri night before the big MS game on the Sat.

  9. Is the Pro12 having to stop too? The RFU and the PRL are the only ones involved I’d have thought. Obviously the Euro cup will have to stop, or at least only non-English fixtures will happen during the RWC. LV cup will need to be put on hold too.

    I’m fairly sure that Quins home stadium is Twickenham Stoop, not HQ, they aren’t the same place.

    1. Yes Quins play at the Stoop – but the Stadiums are a few minutes walk apart. Logistical reasons make playing fixtures in both stadiums on the same day impossible. Often Quins games are shunted to a Friday evening, or Sunday afternoon – which can decrease attendance quite significantly.

    2. Not sure what the Pro12 plans are yet but you can be sure it will be dictated by the Unions, rather than the clubs/regions, especially once the new agreement is signed in Wales.

      I suspect the situation will be that the Pro12 carries on but it is a bit of a grey area as to whether the IRB regulation also applies to Wales given that some of the games are in Cardiff.

  10. Yes, we play at the Stoop, not at Twickenham Stadium. However, the Police and local council do not allow us to play at the Stoop on the same day that HQ is being used (apart from when it’s the 7s, when the crowds at Twickenham are significantly lower). Any home fixtures during the AIs or the 6N are moved to either a friday night or sunday afternoon/evening.

    I’d put money on the LV being suspended next season. You can recover 6 weeks by doing that (4 pool stages, semi-final and final). That would help prevent the season being pushed into June, which would overlap with the IRB (sorry, World Rugby) International window for the Summer tours.

    In 2007, the Top 14 was postponed until after the end of the RWC, European competition was delayed into November. That’ll probably happen here too for the AP and the ERCCs. The wrinkle is that the RWC has been pushed back 2 weeks (starting in the *middle* of September, as opposed to the *start* of September, as was the case in 2007. This means there’s more concertina-ing required somewhere…

    Brighty – That’s the grey area that no-one’s discussed yet. Is the Pro 12 affected, given how the Millenium is staging 8 (17%) of all the games in the tournament, from the opening w/e through to 2 of the QFs?

    1. Fred, I can’t find any info on what the Pro12 is going to do.

      If the IRB rules apply then I guess we will have to pause it.

      If they don’t then I suspect it will carry on as for us Fri/Sun evening rugby is quite standard now – it’s annoying, and crowds have suffered, but it’s been going on for years now. We’re also used to playing games without home International players for big chunks of the season.

      1. Fair enough! I guess we’ll hear closer to the time. If you’re more used to Fri/Sun games, that helps, I guess. I hate Friday games myself. I work in Southampton, & live in South Oxfordshire. It makes for a VERY long day if I have to do the drive up to The Stoop after work, and then back home after! Saturday afternoons are far nicer, as I can get the train, Pub lunch, watch the game, have a beer after, and still get home by mid evening!

  11. So basically, the Stoop will be available, and seeing as Twickers won’t be used on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Quins will simply play on a different day for their home games, and much like every other club fixture, it’ll need to be done as to not clash with any world cup fixture.

    I really can’t see the point in stopping the AP. I really doubt that anything will be hugely diluted, and can easily imagine that it would be a great time for local clubs to play to capture all those new English rugby fans. The same would hold true regardless of where the RWC would be held. Clearly RWC fixtures need to be at the best times, but given the issues caused by simply pausing an entire league (or 3 competitions in this case), it would make far more sense to allow them to run, just not at conflicting times. It’s about growing rugby, let a new local fan, who’s not going to splash out £100 on a ticket, buy something much cheaper for his local club, and watch a RWC game on their big screen, after the local side has just played (or just before).

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