Hartpury University RFC have committed to participating in this year’s Championship season, in effect the 20/21 season. Depending on how many clubs eventually commit, the current proposal is to produce two pools, with clubs playing each other home and away, starting on March 6th and finishing at the end of May. The two pool winners will then play off for promotion to the Premiership.
Club Chairman, Russell Marchant, said, “Despite our disappointment with the lack of support from the Governments Sports Winter Survival Package or the RFU we have decided to go ahead and play this season. It will give our players a chance to play the game they love and also hopefully provide a progression opportunity for current and former students. We want to continue to build on the 11 Hartpury alumni currently involved with the 6 Nations!”.
This is a temporary reprieve for the RFU Championship, the second layer of the elite game in England. Clubs have suffered a 75% reduction in RFU financial support for this season, had no commercial income since last March and will be unable to generate income for this shortened season with no crowds expected at games. Without significant changes to the professional model in England it is hard to see a long term future for this invaluable development pathway for young English players.
A number of the 11 other Championship clubs have now made a similar commitment. Once the final composition of the league, and the two pools, is clear, we look forward to be able to advise supporters of fixture dates.