Championship chief labels Anglo-Welsh league 'scandalous'
January 5, 2014
The make-up of next year's Premiership is still uncertain © Getty Images
Championship chairman Geoff Irvine has said the English game 'would go beserk' if the Premiership's mooted 16-team Anglo-Welsh league came into being.
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has been given a new deadline of January 31 by the regions to agree a new participation agreement before they pursue 'other options' - widely interpreted to mean agreeing to merge with the Premiership. Plans for a 16-team league appear to be at an advanced stage, with Welsh sources suggesting a deal would guarantee three of the four regions immunity from relegation.
The proposals have angered England's second tier clubs, who feel they should be granted first refusal in the event of any Premiership expansion. And Irvine has made his feelings perfectly clear on what he feels are 'scandalous' plans, though he admits he doubts the expanded league will become a reality.
"I really cannot see the RFU admitting four Welsh clubs - the English game would go beserk," Irvine told The Rugby Paper.
"What's the point? The whole system that we've developed over English-qualified players seems to be working well. As for agreeing to give Welsh clubs immunity from relegation, they simply can't do that. The regulations over promotion and relegation are governed by the RFU, not Premiership Rugby, and they can't just make the rules up as they go along.
"It's scandalous, but it's just typical of the way this game is at the moment. We [the Championship] ask Premiership Rugby every year if they want to go to 14 teams and every year they tell us they don't. But now all of a sudden, because they're in the mire over Europe, they're talking about going to 16. It's nonsense."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter