Scottish Rugby has announced the six franchises which will form the new Super 6 competition kicking off in the 2019/20 season.
The six available franchises have been awarded to Ayr, Boroughmuir, Heriot’s, Melrose, Stirling County and Watsonian FC.
Currie Chieftains, Dundee, Edinburgh Academicals, Gala, Glasgow Hawks and Hawick all lost out.
Those choices raise more questions than answers in terms of both the future of the Super 6 competition as well as the future of rugby in Scotland. There is no Glasgow based team (although Ayr might argue they are right next door to the airport) and Stirling is more central belt than Caledonia.
The bids were all assessed across several criteria which were: rugby, vision, governance, ground and facilities, partnerships and links, and financial sustainability, with consideration also given to the people behind the bid and its deliverability.
At least one franchise will be based in each of the four regions: Caledonia; Glasgow and the West; the Borders; and Edinburgh and East Lothian. Two additional franchises have also been awarded.
Controversially both those extra franchises have gone to Edinburgh-based teams. Edinburgh is a city that has struggled to sustain a professional team at times so it will be interesting to see whether there is also a market for three semi-professional teams as well. The tin foil hat brigade will no doubt point to this as proof that the SRU are determined to make Edinburgh the dominant force in Scottish rugby at the cost of all others. Wilder conspiracy theories have been proven in the past.
Glasgow and Glasgow Hawks are perhaps the biggest losers. The team was set up in the late 1990s to provide a pathway to professional rugby for Glasgow-based players. The Hawks made it clear before the announcement that it was likely the club would fold if it wasn’t awarded a franchise as its whole reason for being would cease to exist. It seems inconceivable to pass over Scotland’s largest city for a franchise when rugby has made such great strides in an area so dominated by fitba’. However, we are assured the selection process was both independent and rigorous. Anyone looking to demonstrate an independence of thought might point to the fact Gala was overlooked despite Gregor Townsend being on the review Panel that awarded the franchises.
Chair of the Panel Sir Bill Gammell, said: “I believe the advent of Super 6 is an exciting, forward-thinking evolution within Scottish rugby. I was impressed by the strength, quality, partnership and collaboration in the 12 bids, demonstrating the real potential for future growth.”
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson said: “Given we had double the number of bids for the places available in Super 6, inevitably some of the applicants would lose out. The Review Panel gave each bidder a full, fair and equal opportunity to make their case.
“The six successful applications will, I believe, enable Super 6 to achieve our ambition to raise the standard of rugby at the top of the club game in Scotland and also create strong, sustainable franchises in their own right.
“The bids from the successful six clubs clearly demonstrated a shared vision for what Super 6 can become and highlighted the ambitions of these clubs to grow. This is the start of our Super 6 journey together and I feel we are well-placed to make it a success.”
The announcement of the sucessful bidders marks the next stage in Scottish Rugby delivering “Agenda 3” which sounds like the command Supreme Chancellor Palpatine gave when he ordered his troops to kill all the Jedi. We now await news of the next stage which will see each franchise put together teams and backroom staff. Only time will tell if that is as bloody and rentlentless a process as the assault on the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
Scottish Rugby released statements from each of the successful and unsuccessful bidders and we have included them here in full.
“Ayr RFC are excited to have achieved Super 6 status and looking forward to playing in the new set up and, in particular, the cross-border competition as Ayr are the only Scottish team to have reached the quarter-finals in the B&I Cup.”
“We at Boroughmuir are delighted to have been awarded a Super 6 franchise. We firmly believe that the community-based vision at the core of our bid will serve rugby well, and we look forward to starting the tournament in 2019/20, the club’s centenary season.”
“Heriot’s Rugby Club is delighted to have been selected to participate in the Super 6 tournament. We believe that Super 6 can help evolve the Scottish club game and we are grateful to all those who have helped build Heriot’s to the point that we have reached, where we have been capable of being successful in this process. We are all very proud of this achievement.
“We look forward to working with Scottish Rugby and the other Super 6 teams to further the development of semi-professional rugby players in the Scottish club game. By working with George Heriot’s School, Stewart’s Melville Rugby Club, Edinburgh College and throughout the community we will also provide a platform for all rugby players to reach their potential within the game.”
“Melrose Rugby is delighted to be rewarded with one of the Super 6 franchises.
“This opportunity to support bridging the gap between the club and professional game is something Melrose Rugby has worked tirelessly to do since the game went professional in 1997.
“Edinburgh Napier University will play a pivotal role in further bridging this gap and we are delighted to be working in conjunction with them. Both their expertise in elite sports performance along with world class facilities will foster the environment to help the Melrose Rugby franchise flourish.”
“Stirling County are delighted to be selected as one of the inaugural Super 6 clubs for season 2019/20. We look forward to working with our franchise partner Stirling University, the other Super 6 clubs and Scottish Rugby on the next phase to ensure a successful launch of the tournament.”
“Watsonian FC is delighted to have been awarded a franchise in the new Super 6 competition, which we believe will play a huge part in enhancing the development of elite rugby in Scotland.
“We are looking forward to working with Scottish Rugby and the other five franchisees to ensure that this exciting new venture will be a success. We also welcome the opportunity of working with other clubs in Edinburgh, and further afield, to provide the pathway to elite rugby for their talented players.”
“We are bitterly disappointed by this outcome. However, in the Chieftains tradition, we will regroup and continue to pursue our objective of being the best rugby club in Scotland.”
“Dundee High are very disappointed not to have been awarded one of the Super 6 franchises. We were strongly motivated by a desire to offer a rugby pathway for players north of the Forth and we were confident that we had presented an attractive and viable bid.
“We are very grateful to those who contributed to the formulation of the bid, including the High School of Dundee, Abertay University, the University of Dundee and Dundee City Council and we trust that they will remain partners as we now concentrate on reaching the top of the amateur game which will come into place below the Super 6 competition from season 2019/20.
“We thank Scottish Rugby for the opportunity and wish the successful bidders all the best in the new competition.
“We are obviously disappointed not to have been granted a Super 6 franchise, especially having just won promotion back to the top flight. However, we feel we made the strongest case we could for inclusion and that as a club we still have a lot to offer Scottish rugby, especially once the new facilities are available at Raeburn Place. We will focus on becoming the best amateur club in Scotland and look to bid again when the franchises are up for review.”
“We are obviously disappointed not to have been selected as a franchisee for the Super 6, but would like to congratulate those who have been successful and wish them every success in this new venture for Scottish rugby. Given the facilities that Gala Rugby can offer we hope to be involved at some time in the future.
“We sincerely hope that the ‘partner’ to Super 6, Agenda 3 can stimulate and sustain amateur club rugby in Scotland in parallel with the development of the Super 6.”
“It is profoundly disappointing that Scotland’s biggest city will not be represented in this new structure. The commitment offered by Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities, The Royal Navy in Scotland and three long-established rugby clubs did not find favour on this occasion.
“It is our earnest hope that the goodwill of these organisations might be harnessed by an alternative body to ensure that the City of Glasgow has a platform for the best available club talent to develop in a professional environment.”
“Hawick Rugby Football Club would like to wish success to the successful clubs that have been selected for the new Super 6 franchises. Throughout the process the club have been enthused by the direction that the game is going in Scotland and although disappointed that a club with the history of Hawick are not part of it we will support those successful clubs to make this the success it deserves.”