Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Whither Super 6?

Stirling County v Glasgow Hawks - pic © Moody Blue
Stirling County v Glasgow Hawks - pic © Moody Blue

With the 6 Nations now completed and attention turning to the business end of the domestic season, the date for announcing the awarding of franchises for the Super 6 for season 2019-20 draws ever closer. Applications close in about a week with announcement of the initial geography Super 6 on the 1st of May and there have been 13 letters of intent so far.

A number of clubs have held supporters meetings recently at which Mark Dodson has been present, but there have been no significant announcements immediately after these meetings by any club. Hawick have posted on their website that they intend to be part of the ‘big league’ going forward, so presumably they have submitted an application. This could make for an interesting discussion in the corridors of Murrayfield where perhaps they would have liked a ‘Borders collective’ application and are unlikely to want George Graham as one of their approved coaches!

The struggles of Glasgow Hawks this season perhaps illustrate the likely difficulties going forward.

If any team has attempted to embody the ethos of a ‘Super 6’ club in the past it has surely been Glasgow Hawks. The amalgamation of a number of feeder clubs, with the constituent teams retaining their own identities at a lower level; a ground with good facilities in terms of floodlights, and spectator seats; appointment of development officers to create a wider playing pool from local schools (outwith the 3 larger private schools that were originally involved) and the ‘professionalisation’ of the club in a number of areas beyond what was the norm around the clubrooms of Scotland – they were leaders in marketing, sponsorship, and coaching at one time.

But this season has been a real struggle. Yes, there are extenuating circumstances. The pitch for one, which has necessitated a peripatetic existence around Glasgow for home games for most of the season. The coach for another; Finlay Gillies is a young, highly promising, coach (ex-professional player) in exactly the mould of the kind the SRU would like to see ‘appointed’ to lead their Super 6. He was brave enough to put his hand up this week after it was confirmed Hawks would be in a relegation play-off and say the players were better than that, so perhaps it was his coaching that was at fault.

But what concerns me most is Hawks have a demographic of players that matches almost exactly the kind of demographic the SRU would like in the ‘Super 6’ teams.

Hawks have had 7 players turn out for them this year whose ‘main team’ has been one of the professional teams: George Horne, Pat Kelly, Grant Stewart, Cameron Fenton, Kiran McDonald, Matt Smith and Matt Fagerson. They all moved to the club because of its reputation as a great nursery for aspiring professional players – and its success in producing players for the pro teams the last few years.

In addition another five of their first team squad (Sam Yawayawa, Mark New, Kyle Rowe, Ross Thompson, Paul Cairncross) have played for Scotland U20s. Presumably, most of them also came to the club because they have aspirations of making it as professional players. Add Robert Beattie (a partnership player with Glasgow Warriors) and Dan York (a full time Academy player who has been injured most of the season) into the mix and you are not far short of a whole XV whose ‘focus’ has probably been elsewhere other than Hawks.  And it has been evident – as Fin Gillies says they have players who shouldn’t be in 9th place in the league, yet they are. This is mostly because they have played as individuals this year, and had very little team coherence, firstly, because their team changes so much from week to week, and secondly, because the individuals within it appear to put their own personal career ambitions above their aspirations to succeed as a team. And that has its own impact on the spectators. If the players are there one week, and not there the next, why should the spectators bother turning out every week? Their opponents in yesterday’s vital relegation match, Boroughmuir, couldn’t believe how small the crowd was for the game tweeting ‘Does not say much about club rugby when you turn up at Glasgow Hawks and work out that Boroughmuir Bears get bigger crowds’.

This is not to have a go at the players, the club or the spectators. It is simply to highlight what the future might look like if we go down the route of ‘Super 6’ unless players are committed to their franchise.

How many players in the Hawks team this season played either for one of the feeder schools or for Hawks Under 18 while they were youngsters? Very few. In other words, most of them only met when they came together ‘to further their careers’. Contrast that with Stirling or Melrose or Currie or Marr where a significant number of the first team have played together through school and have learned to win and lose as a team.  Yes, some ambitious individuals have joined them. But they are joining clubs where the ‘soul’ of the club is in its community ethos and identity. Not where the ‘sole’ reason for the club is to serve individual aspirations and breed professional players. This is not what Hawks are, but very easily is what Super 6 could become.

And there are few who will want to watch it.

39 Responses

  1. It’s a bit disingenuous to call out the spectating support. The game was played immediately after the Italy Scotland 6N, on a distant pitch in atrocious at points weather. Thats hardly Hawks fault. I was there were you?
    It’s precisely because of some of the points you raise in your article which makes Super 6 seem more appealing.
    More think less ink needed on your part

  2. I agree Drchuck. One of the main reasons for the Super6 is so that it can be a true development tool for professional players by raising standards. If this is achieved, the likes of the players mentioned in the article would not need to return to their pro clubs, as they will be developing in the Super6 environment instead.

  3. I think the whole point of creating the “part-time professional” Super6 teams is to create a professional atmosphere. Players will have 1, 2 or 3 year contracts and their aspirations will either be to obtain a full time contract (with one of the Pro teams) or better contracts within the Super6.
    Moody Blue seems to suggest that the “ethos” of playing for Hawks will change. Of course it will, but not necessarily to their detriment. If all players are professional (albeit part time) then they will be more, not less, inclined to perform well. Does Moody Blue think because they are paid, Glasgow Warriors players don’t really care about the club?
    If I was a Hawks fan, I would be more worried about not getting the Super6 franchise, as all those better players he mentions won’t be turning out for Hawks at all.
    That being said, rugby is much more of a team game than most. Individual talent may make a difference but often not as much as team coherence and consistency. Glasgow have obviously suffered from trying to play these up-and-coming stars in the team (rather than, for instance, Hawks stalwarts who play every week). The Super6 will sort this out either way – whether Hawks are part of it or in the new, wholly amateur Premiership.

  4. Has the author researched his post at all to see how many of those vaunted names he mentions have played from the start or from the bench and for how many fixtures? Horne and Fagerson to name but 2 have played a lot for Warriors so that nullifies that as a discussion point. Did he bother to quote also from the Boroughmuir twitter feed why their updates were so scarce because of the sub zero temperatures. This is a lazy and poor article from someone using an anonymous sobriquet

  5. Thanks to Drchuck for his comments.
    Its an opinion piece to raise discussion. I’m not claiming it to be a definitive view.
    But in answer to some of the questions raised, I have researched the piece, I wasn’t at the game on Saturday because I was at Marr, but I have been at 5 other Hawks ‘home’ games this year.
    Appearances by the ‘vaunted’ names are as follows
    Pat Kelly 7 starts; George Horne 5 starts; Cammy Fenton 4 starts (+1 sub appearance); Kieran McDonald 6; Matt Smith 3; Matt Fagerson 1; Grant Stewart 11.
    Sam Yawayawa 10(+3); Mark New 3(+2); Kyle Rowe 14; Ross Thompson 13(+1); Paul Cairncross 6(+4); Robert Beattie 14.

    I think the point I was trying to make was that Hawks have suffered by a lot of changes in comparison to other teams because they play players whose availability is determined by other coaches e.g. Hawks have played 44 players this season in the 1st XV (only Stirling County with 45 have played more); Hawks have had 25 appearances by professional players (by far the most in the league); Hawks have made an average of 4.8 changes per starting line up (higher than anyone else). Hawks had no player who started every game this season; the only other team that is true of was Marr.

    Could anyone have imagined that George Horne, Matt Fagerson, Cammy Fenton or Grant Stewart would make as many professional appearances this season as they have? Probably not, which possibly means Fin Gillies, in planning for the season, had anticipated them being available much more for Hawks than they have been.
    Hawks have done a fantastic service to Scottish rugby by giving young players like Ross Thompson so much playing time, but the continual progress of aspiring professional players along their conveyor belt, means there has been little continuity of team selection within and between seasons. The results this season show the team have suffered for that. And I would argue, the crowds have too.

    1. In the original proposals, the Super 6 franchises were not going to include any professional players attached to the pro-squads, although not sure if this included academy players on the fringes if the pro-squad without professional contracts. However, the clubs putting forward tenders overwhelmingly supported the continued inclusion of fringe pros in the Super 6 set ups so this has been changed.

      The clubs wanting to take part in the Super 6 clearly don’t see this S an issue. Whatever challenges Hawks have had in integrating pro-players into their squads I’m not sure there is any evidence it is going to be a broader issue.

      Lots of people involved in Scottish rugby are poking holes in the proposals but no one has put forward a better alternative – and they hcent done so for 20-odd years. I think Dodson’s record at the SRU is bloody fantastic and perhaps he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Apparently 13 bids were tendered – this is going to happen.

      1. Have to agree. We are not in the foreseeable future going to get a third franchise. We may, or may not, be successful in getting a toehold in Newcastle. We must improve on the current level of quality of play for the guys coming through. I haven’t seen a better proposal than the Super 6. Time for the naysayers to sit down and shut up. In any event, none of the proposals scrap clubs, and in fact make them more sustainable. No payments!!

        At least the SRU have a vision for a second tier in Scotland. Compare and contrast with the RFU and their aimless blundering about what to do with their level 2!!!!

      2. FF:Someone has made a huge differenece and I would give Dodson the credit . I just wonder if the super 6 could be a Trojan horse. However you are right there is no better proposal and they have now looked at buying AP sides long before it was in the public domain about Worcester.

  6. Good point Mike, from the outside looking in that is a positive. My concern in the super 6 is not fact based just experience of knowing people and when things evolve and the ways people grab power and drive blockers. I have watched how local (second tier or small town ) football teams operate and learned from them. We are creating some big fish and reducing the size of the pond. It will need local hearts and minds to run it, not all will be pure and wholesome , they will be forward thinking not all will have the future of Scottish Rugby at heart and if they are to invest wealth, it will be ‘their rugby club’ and need to serve their interests. They will be looking forward to what is in it for them. So its how you strike a balance and get something in it for everyone, while controlling the ‘What is in it for me’ need.

    The other big question is does one shoe fit all , when rugby became professional the border crowds fell back as the ground entry price went up (to fund players). The rural rural economy being as it is , already had competing priorities for their disposable income and the rugby lost out. If I were a border club I would be pointing out that they need more subsitence to cover their fixed costs as their gate and bar receipts are challenged.

    We do not want the existing parochial ways to evolve into the super 6.These are the hard questions that you cannot stand up and discuss in a public meeting.

  7. For what my view is worth, and that isn’t a lot as I am not a member of a rugby club, is that the SRU board in the 1990s and 2000s and the clubs almost killed Scottish rugby. I am not suggesting that this was by malice or deliberate but due to self-interested and a conservative approach to change.

    As harsh as this may sound, I think The Super six (better name required!) is the only option.

    I know clubs will say ‘we produce future Scotland players’. That is great and in my view is exactly what they should be doing. However they do not produce, from what i can see a stream of guys who are READY for pro rugby never mind international rugby. Before I am shot down with stories of Hogg, Bhatti etc my point is that the super six is an attempt to maximise the ability of our limited playing pool and act as a bridge between clubs and pro sides.

    Clubs and communities should be proud when their players are signed by a Sixer not bemoaning a talent drain.

    local sports clubs, and that is what most rugby clubs in Scotland are, cannot be expected to produce a prop that can be thrown in to a European cup game or international. It is not fair on the club, the player or supporters of the clubs and pro sides.

    I do hope the return to amateur status is embraced. The historic clubs have amateur ethos and traits (good ones) from what I see and I wish the clubs well and hope they flourish in their role of producing the next generation of players for Scotland, before they move to the super six or pro sides to further their careers.

  8. Firstly, I don’t believe that the Pro players aligned with Hawks have ‘chosen’ Hawks, whatever it’s reputation might be – aren’t they simply part of the ‘draft’ system that means all Prem teams get a pick in reverse league finishing order?…so in other words, you go where you’re put.

    The clubs are free to select these players as they see fit when made available to them, and as you point out, for every Hawks defeat due to ‘lack of cohesion’, there has been a Currie, or County, or Ayr or whoever who have seen the injection of talent come at the right time, and when used well and integrated properly, seems to have enhanced their performances.

    To an outsider, it’s seems to me that Hawks have always been a bit of a muddle, suffering at age grades from the influence of private schools and never seeming to really find an identity. I was a member of West when Hawks first came on the scene and they were ruthless in the way that they pillaged talent from Burnbrae at all levels, so sometimes, you have to lay in the bed that you make.

  9. I disagree that talent is plundered, players themselves go to play at the highest level they possibly can and when Hawks were relegated a fair few disappeared off to continuing trying to further their careers at Premiership sides. You can’t really blame them for that but there is no real loyalty at this level by and large. The Super 6 may actually help clubs not at this level to stabilise and help develop talent and loyalty. Let’s not forget that West were initially going to be part of HaWks at inception.

  10. I thing the article by Moody Blue raises some important points. The decision about progressing to Super 6 is a critical one for Scottish rugby and the leading clubs in particular. I would love to see a strong second tier in Scotland but I’m struggling to see how Super 6 will achieve this.
    I can’t see how there will be a sudden influx of supporters and investors when Edinburgh Rugby, in particular has struggled to achieve either. There’s also a real risk that 10 matches a season plus a few Welsh friendlies, won’t be an attractive package to supporters or players. I think Moody Blue is making the point that Super 6 may be a half-way house between rugby played for enjoyment and rugby as a living. As such, it risks having a very transient population of players aged 18 to about 23. The franchises could be quite soulless.
    Most of the comments here are very supportive of Super 6. None of us has a crystal ball. I would love to see it succeed but the proposals look full of risks as they stand. There are many sports clubs that have gone to the wall chasing a dream.

  11. There will be no 1, 2 or 3 years player contracts in the Super6. According to the franchise document “Contracts will be issued for one season at a time, and will run for nine months from July to March inclusive”.

    And as for making a living from it, the maximum a player can earn in a season is £12000, inclusive of bonuses and benefits in kind.

    Based on the £125k suggested budget for player wages for a squad of 35, players will on average earn £99 a week (inclusive of bonuses and benefits in kind).

    1. Where is it suggested that players are expected to make a living from Super Six?

      This is just some incremental income, isn’t it?

  12. OK so we have the 12 applications for the Super Six: Ayr, Boroughmuir, Currie , Dundee, Edinburgh Accies, Gala, Glasgow Hawks, Hawick, Heriots, Melrose, Stirling Co, Watsonian.
    It has already been said that there would be at least one franchise in each of the regions. So, I thought, if we were to be based purely on rugby success, the four “regional” franchises would be at:
    Glasgow & West – Ayr vs Glasgow – Ayr wins this hands down. They have consistently been in the top 3 of the Premiership for the last 5 years, whereas the Hawks have been consistently inconsistent. As some have said, this may be down to pro players being “dropped into” the Hawks side and then being removed at relatively short notice, but the results speak for themselves.
    Caledonia – Stirling vs Dundee – again, Stirling County is the only choice. Dundee High is consistently in the top four of NL1, without being able to get reinstated into the Premiership. Stirling is the only Premiership side in the region.
    Borders – Melrose vs Gala vs Hawick. Gala has been in (relative) decline over the last 5 years and sits mid table in NL1. Hawick have at least been in the Premiership, albeit rarely challenging for honours. Melrose have been up there in the top 4 and are current champions, so get the nod.
    Now to Edinburgh and East – 5 clubs including Boroughmuir, Currie, Edinburgh Accies, Heriots, Watsonians. This is the closest call. You would have to say Currie on current form. A case can be made for all the others, but they have not really threatened to take top spot for a while.
    So Ayr, Stirling, Melrose and Currie, to represent the four regions.
    Obviously the powers that be will be looking at more than rugby success to decide on the franchises, but this has to be the starting point, doesn’t it?
    The other 8 will have to fight for the last 2 spots. My bets are on Dundee and Glasgow Hawks, if only for geographic reasons.

  13. Whilst Currie might be the best of the Embra clubs their facilities are shocking. They dont seem remotely interested in doing anything about it either – the same crappy changing and pitch for the last 25yrs.

    To me that says more about the ambition of a club – throwing their resources at players might be fine in the short term but does little in the long term.

  14. Some excellent considered contributions on the initiative. While I get the need to grow the professional base of the sport in Scotland and provide a career path for young players. My reservation would be -‘what’s in for the clubs?’ Those who are accepted for a Super 6 franchise have a decision to make on whether they retain an amateur footprint (critical I would suggest for the Border clubs) or go over lock, stock and barrel to being a semi-professional entity.

    The supporter base for professional rugby is limited in Scotland so in my view it would be unrealistic for significant income streams to make the teams financially viable other than through ‘sugar daddy’ funding.

    1. That’s a critical point. Some contributors are very excited about what can be achieved with new money – but we need to question where this ‘new’ money is going to come from. Is there a dormant pool of supporters and investors? Even if there is, pro sport has a strong tendency to pass funding straight out in wages, rather than underlying investment. The recent coverage of the losses Sarries make should be a warning to us all. A sound plan to grow Scottish rugby should be applauded – a flawed plan loads lots of financial risk onto clubs.

      1. Franchises have to provide a minimum of about £60,000 a year. Some clubs already do that.

        The crux of the Super 6 proposals isn’t to attract new investors, or entice new crowds. It is to improve the second tier by concentrating players and central resources into fewer elite clubs.

        Actually many clubs are already dragged into a situation where they have to pay players to remain competitive, although they can’t really afford to or want to. Super 6 puts an end to that by making the tier below strictly amateur.

        The Super 6 will be semi-pro but the levels of funding talked about being needed for the franchises to operate mean there simply isn’t scope for runaway player salary inflation. I just a don’t think that is a substantial risk.

  15. The substantial risk is that each S6 franchise is exposed to a player wage bill of £420,000 per season! The SRU only contributes another £62,500 MAXIMUM to player wages. The richer S6 franchises like Melrose, Ayr, etc. will continue to pay higher wages to poach better players, forcing all S6 franchises to continue competing, thus quickly driving up all wage bills at franchise expense – NOT the SRU’s! If it is claimed the SRU wouldn’t allow franchises to compete like that, this only goes to show that the ‘successful’ clubs getting a franchise have relinquished all control of their players, their finances and their destinies. SRU rules – OK?

    1. That risk already exists and nothing is going to change with Super 6 to make it more of a concern.

      Wage inflation has happened in other leagues because of two things: huge injections of investment from new club owners with deep pockets and huge increases in TV money. Neither will apply here. Clubs can already generate a surplus to splash on players – no one expects Super 6 franchises to suddenly be taking in cash so where does this stimulus for inflation come from?

  16. The stimulus for player wage inflation is obvious: natural amateur rugby desire for success becomes professional rugby (S6) desperation for success – at any price.

    David Barnes wrote in The Offside Line on 30th November 2017: ‘If we assume that each player will be contracted to be paid minimum wage (say £8 per hour including NI) for a 15-hour week over the course of a 39-week season, that comes out at £4,680 per player per year. That must then be multiplied by 35 to take into account each squad member, to reach £163,800 per squad per season.

    Senior players will inevitably expect significantly more than minimum wage (up to the threshold of £12,000 per annum which has been set by the Union) leading to informed estimates that the full player payment budget will be in the region of £200,000 per season. In which case the franchises will have to raise in excess of £130,000 off their own bat.’

    And that’s just at the start. Relentless intra-S6 rivalry, deliberately fostered by the SRU, will ensure that richer S6 franchises (ie. former leading clubs, NOT the SRU) will soon, once more, be paying ever-higher wages for the best available players, forcing all other S6 franchises to try to follow suit.

    FF is right in saying that ‘no one expects S6 franchises to suddenly be taking in cash’. Not even Mr Dodson has dared claim it will be ‘sudden’, and his rosy dreams of some FUTURE increases in gate and sponsor monies are utterly unquantified in a way with which no respectable business case would ever be associated.

    In any event, the SRU demands that it is the former CLUB (NOT the SRU/S6 franchise) that shoulders total financial responsibility for raising all sponsorship income in order to pay for their inexorably rising S6 player wage bills. Furthermore, the SRU proposes that if everyone agrees, even the £12,000 max. per player (£420,000 per season) will be increased.

    FF’s final question should have been: ‘ . . so where does the CLUBS’ MONEY come from?’

    1. The point you miss is that player wage inflation will be significantly restrained by the lack of cash clubs have and the need to employ a whole squad.

      Inflation in the pro game is driven by pro-club owners sinking tens of millions into their clubs and increasing tv deals. English and French clubs then offer wages to Scottish players we need to try to match. In Super 6 where is this money to come from? And at the sums involved you could offer double a players salary and it still doesn’t induce them to change club because his day job pays far more. Sorry but this idea of rampant wage inflation is scare-mongering. It is a fair point to question whether there is enough funding for a whole squad at all but that is exactly why the scenario is unlikely.

  17. The 15hrs a week being discussed rather precludes a player squeezing in a full time job – but the hourly rate discussed makes it only attractive to young people just starting out and still supported by their families. What about the older players with families to support?

    1. It will become as semi-pro football is (or at least down south, which is where my experience is). Training will be 2-3 hours 2/3 nights a week, and then a full day available on Saturday for travel to/from, preparation and the game itself – just about works out to around 15 hours a week.

      For top-end semi-pro football, wages can vary hugely from club to club, but could be anything from around £100 – £500 per game which is in a similar ball-park to the Super Six proposals (max of around £300/week).

      Because training is in the evenings then you’ll find a lot of older players can still make it work while having a full-time ‘day’ job. And of course it’s even harder for football where you’re also playing on a Tuesday night and might have to take the afternoon/day off work to travel from one end of the country to the other for an away game.

  18. Nobody has suggested that the S6 concept will be up and running perfectly from the beginning. Whatever the plan, there will inevitably be a period of adjustment once the realities of the situation take affect. Remember the absolute horlicks the then SRU board made of the transition into the professionalism era: a cultural mindset imbued with amateurism planned for four professional teams, when a simple market research exercise would have shown that to be an unlikely prospect. If S6 does not work, then some form of semi-pro structure will still be needed to improve skills and numbers. Incidently, the failure to embrace professional rugby was not just a SRU problem; more than one club either believed that amateur Scotland could compete with professional England, or they just didn’t care: I suspect the latter. Then, as now, parochialism helps no-one.

    1. Eh? 4 districts migrating to pro teams was absolutely the the right structure.

      The mess was after they made this correct decision and failed to support it properly and then bailed out when they got scared of the financial implications.

      1. The SRU were already saddled with paying off the Murrayfield debt when the game turned pro so were always in a challenging financial situation. They actually did have a consultancy do market research for them – they thought the 4 pro-teams would be bringing upwards of 8,000 fans each!!!

      2. They would have got those crowds if they had been successful, but the mess of the transition put paid to that.

        Leinster were lucky to get 500 at their games in the mid 90s.

      3. According to stat bunker Munster averaged less than that (7,058) as late as the 07/08 season. In fact 8,000 would have been the fifth highest attendance in the league and the Welsh clubs always had much bigger attendances than us.

        So sure, if all four of our districts had won multiple titles and/or European cups they might have pulled in crowds that size but that isn’t really a useful counterfactual as our pro-sides were nowhere near that good. Now Glasgow are relatively successful and can get those size crowds but rugby attendances have risen across the UK and among every team in the league since those early days.

        Basically, building a business model on those assumed crowds was absolutely mad – it is no surprise they hit immediate financial problems.

      4. The business model didn’t rely on 8k crowds – that was a stretch objective and a justification for the investment in the future.

  19. It’s not scaremongering to say Scottish rugby players move to other Scottish clubs for more money – it happens regularly now, within the Premiership, and from National Leagues to Premiership clubs. Indeed this is a Dodson Agenda 3 ‘boast’ – S6 is ‘saving’ National L clubs (who have lobbied the SRU for years to stop poaching of their players) by enforcing strict amateurism on all clubs from the new Championship down (clyping to HMRC), and allowing only S6 franchises the ability to pay players. S6 even have an official annual ‘open season’ during which all players can be approached by clubs and agents with contracts/cheque books in hand.

    At £12,000 the money is not huge for S6 individual players. FF suggests S6 players won’t move clubs even if their wages are doubled because ‘their day jobs pay them far more’. But nobody’s trying to tempt them away from their day jobs, unless they’re top S6 stars moving to full-pro status with Edinburgh or Glasgow. Many S6 players WILL move franchises, though – they may already have moved around as National L or Premiership players for a few hundred pounds extra, and if a S6 franchise offers them, say, £5,000 more per season than their current S6 wage, they will take it and go. (Naturally, other factors will also apply, like preferred coaching styles, number of starts, pals in another S6 franchise.)

    Money amounts might be small for individual S6 players – but money amounts could be very significant for cash-strapped S6 franchises: for example, it would cost £40,000 per season extra if, say, 8 out of 35 players transferred at the end of a season for £5,000 per season more. (16 Edinburgh players transfer this season.) A few ‘cheaper’ players up from the Championship might reduce the total additional cost, but the S6 cost trend will certainly be upwards, and it won’t take many seasons for overall S6 franchise player wage bills to balloon up to the current maximum of £420,000. Not rampant, not scaremongering, just realism.

  20. Not sure how the SRU can enforce strict amateurism on member clubs since the sport has gone open. It is up to each club to determine whether or not to pay officials/coaches/players and if so how much. The Super 6, by hiving off the most ambitious clubs, is likely to temporarily reduce financial pressures at Championship level clubs. Given the limited number of Super 6 teams there will continue to be clubs at all levels of the sport who pay players and others. If the SRU wished to to mitigate the wage inflation pressures on member clubs, a better way would be by enforcing total salary caps.

    HMRC would only be be interested if clubs neglect to fulfill their statutory duties as employers, and/or employees fail to disclose income.

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