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Academies shake up

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Richard Lowther View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 Jul 2020 at 19:44
Daily Telegraph 

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Exclusive: Premiership clubs asked to close academies and switch to six regional talent hubs
Plan drawn up by Edward Griffiths envisages players graduating to Championship and, after at least a year, qualifying for Premiership draft

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Deerhunter2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2020 at 21:13
At first sight that looks a positive move for the Championship, perhaps like the draft in American Football.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote islander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2020 at 21:40
Here's the article...

Premiership Rugby clubs are to be asked to replace their academy system  with a network of six “world class regional hubs” as part of a radical plan to overhaul the development pathway in England, Telegraph Sport can reveal.

The move, praised as “the most significant innovation since the move to professionalism,” is one of the foundation stones of the new blueprint to remodel the Championship, drawn up by Ed Griffiths, the former Saracens chief executive.

Details emerged last week of the proposal to restructure the Championship, with a recommendation that the 12-team division be split into into a northern and southern conference, with promotion to the Premiership based on agreed criteria between the leagues rather than a first-past-the-post format.

However it is understood that the proposed new structure would also see the 13 Premiership academies replaced by six regional centres based at universities across the country and linked to two clubs in a modelled Championship.

Premiership clubs would then be able to select the best young English talent through an American-style draft each December and give them three-year contracts.

The 76-page proposal, which has been seen by Telegraph Sport, forecasts that Premiership clubs would save between £600,000 to £900,000 by closing their academies with the Championship clubs meeting the costs of providing the coaching, strength and conditioning and medical staff at the six hubs.

Players would be guaranteed around 30 competitive games per season and after one year would be eligible for the draft system in which each Premiership club would be given four picks from a pool of 60 players.

Griffiths, who has already met with Bill Sweeney, the Rugby Football Union chief executive, and the professional rugby director, Conor O’Shea, is to make a formal presentation to the Premiership clubs next month after a series of informal discussions.

He is also exploring interest from broadcasters, sponsors and universities with the aim of establishing the new academies by the start of the 2021 season.

“This proposal tries to primarily find a purpose and a role for a sustainable Championship but what it also tries to do is to harness all the resources available to the game into a more streamlined, integrated pathway for younger players,” Griffiths told Telegraph Sport.

“The plan for the new pathway, which would remain under RFU control, would harness universities’ facilities in a hub that would include other educational establishments and crucially Championship clubs, because Championship clubs can provide game time.

“There are many failings of the current system but the main one is that the best young players in the country in the Premiership academies spend too much time holding tackle bags and the A League, which I understand is not going to take place next season, has been a pretty poor competition.

“Young players in this structure would get world-class rugby coaching in six regional academies, they would get their parallel education and training from universities and associated educational institutions and they would get their game time with the Championship clubs.

“That to me is a streamlined, integrated solution where everyone in the game is working together to provide the youngster the best opportunity.”

Player welfare is also central to the vision, which has the working title TEC – The English Championship, with a comprehensive programme outlined with “game-leading” regulations including concussion protocols, use of painkillers, rest periods and workload monitoring.

“At some point the game is going to have to get serious about protecting players,” Griffiths added. “This will go further on player welfare than any other league in the world at the moment”

Griffiths, backed unanimously at a meeting of the Championship clubs last Wednesday to explore a new arrangement,  acknowledges however that persuading the clubs to give up their academies will not be an easy task.

“We have not ploughed all this money into our academy to hand it over to the Championship,” said one source.

The estimated cost of running the new Championship model, including funding player salaries and the new academies, is £15.6 million in the first year, which would require significant investment from both the RFU and Premiership Rugby on top of broadcasting and sponsorship revenues. Griffiths expects the requirement for external funding to reduce year-on-year. 

“The challenge is to persuade people to change,” said Griffiths. “Change is always viewed with suspicion and ulterior motives but I genuinely think this is a win for everybody – the RFU, the Premiership clubs, the Championship and younger players.”

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2020 at 21:47
"agreed criteria between the leagues"
So in layman's terms: Ring fencing in all but name.

Also Drafts?
Can someone please tell the commercial team/Blazers (or whoever decided) that this isn't America.


Edited by Robb - 27 Jul 2020 at 21:49
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Camquin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2020 at 21:54
It appears to be part of the Ed Griffiths plan.
The theory is that in return for providing coaches the Championship get access to players.

Which seems to ignore the fact  that academy players already get loaned to the Championship in their final year.
In fact they generally have one year in Nat 2, one in Nat1 and then one in the Championship, though some short cut that and others fall by the wayside.

And  I do not see how the Championship can provide coaches especially if funding is cut.
Unless they are expecting the premiership to give up funding to cover it.

They also talk of giving 60 academy players in the draft each having had 30 games a season. 
I did not think we were having that many games.

The draft is expected to be in December to suit the new global season. 
Which is a problem for clubs with a traditional season.

So I am not sure it will survive contact with the enemy.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kimbo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 08:38
April the first seems to come round with increasing regularity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tulip Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 09:03
Originally posted by Richard Lowther Richard Lowther wrote:

Daily Telegraph 

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Exclusive: Premiership clubs asked to close academies and switch to six regional talent hubs
Plan drawn up by Edward Griffiths envisages players graduating to Championship and, after at least a year, qualifying for Premiership draft
Would love to know where these six regional talent hubs will be Richard. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PlangentThrowback Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 09:30
I think Griffiths (who didn't come out of the $aracen$ salary cap scandal particularly well) has lost his grasp on reality with this one.  If we leave aside 'details' of managing game time, draft picks and associated minutiae it seems to gloss over how the thing will be funded.  Except to say that somehow the RFU and Premiership will stump up for it.

The RFU is already cutting costs, as the Championship knows all too well, and if the Premiership clubs are going to fund the rest then given that they'll be paying the piper then you might well expect them to call the tune.  Which leaves the Championship clubs exactly where?

And how exactly are broadcasting and sponsorship revenues going to make up for reduced year-on-year external funding.  The Championship as a whole struggled to find a lead sponsor for the entire league and is 'broadcast' solely because it's part of a package with England internationals.  Is it realistic to think that somehow a sponsor is going to come in and pay significant sums for a niche product and youth team games?

I'm all for innovative thinking but I'd like to see a nodding acquaintance with the real world.  Unless, of course, The Torygraph has more information to drip feed us that shows, for example, the Premiership taking control of the Championship.  Otherwise it looks like Griffiths has come up with a 'plan' without consulting with all potential stakeholders.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billesleyexile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 09:43
Originally posted by PlangentThrowback PlangentThrowback wrote:

I think Griffiths (who didn't come out of the $aracen$ salary cap scandal particularly well) has lost his grasp on reality with this one.  If we leave aside 'details' of managing game time, draft picks and associated minutiae it seems to gloss over how the thing will be funded.  Except to say that somehow the RFU and Premiership will stump up for it.

The RFU is already cutting costs, as the Championship knows all too well, and if the Premiership clubs are going to fund the rest then given that they'll be paying the piper then you might well expect them to call the tune.  Which leaves the Championship clubs exactly where?

And how exactly are broadcasting and sponsorship revenues going to make up for reduced year-on-year external funding.  The Championship as a whole struggled to find a lead sponsor for the entire league and is 'broadcast' solely because it's part of a package with England internationals.  Is it realistic to think that somehow a sponsor is going to come in and pay significant sums for a niche product and youth team games?

I'm all for innovative thinking but I'd like to see a nodding acquaintance with the real world.  Unless, of course, The Torygraph has more information to drip feed us that shows, for example, the Premiership taking control of the Championship.  Otherwise it looks like Griffiths has come up with a 'plan' without consulting with all potential stakeholders.   

Clap

The most striking feature of all these plans from Mr Griffiths is that they seem to be (almost) what the Premiership wanted the other year. This is the road to buddy clubs, loss of independence, and a second tier of zombies dressed as the clubs they used to be.

There are three options as I see it (and when I say "options" I don't mean that they're on the table...

1) championship goes under the wing of the premiership, with all that that entails and leads to, and the 2 leagues sail away from the rest of English RU like it doesn't exist (except as somewhere to get a bit of game time or the odd player that they unaccountably missed with the trawl net).

2) championship bits the bullet, accepts that the dream for clubs that don't have sacks of money of getting to the top of the tree is now over, and settles for becoming the top of the amateur pyramid, with the odd club disappearing upwards as and when it comes into a sack of cash that will get it past the licensing criteria and into the cartel

3) the championship attempts to plough its own furrow, and essentially ends up at 1 or 2 anyway but without intending to, and without having thought any of it through.

I'd put my money on 3, leading to 2. It's not in the prem's interests to go for one, except insofar as it can control the playing environment so its players get what they need, and the position of the 13 isn't threatened by upstarts.


Edited by billesleyexile - 28 Jul 2020 at 09:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 'Hopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 10:15
Has anyone even given a thought as to where these Academy players come from, certainly not the Premiership or even most, if any Championship clubs? 
How about setting up a financiial reward scheme for the Community Clubs who nurture these youths from a very young age.
What if the Hokey Kokey really IS what it's all about?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billesleyexile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 10:19
Originally posted by 'Hopper 'Hopper wrote:

Has anyone even given a thought as to where these Academy players come from, certainly not the Premiership or even most, if any Championship clubs? 
How about setting up a financiial reward scheme for the Community Clubs who nurture these youths from a very young age.

I've said it for a long time, I don't want it, but it's about time (25 years into professionalism) that we stopped playing the amateur game of "of course we won't stand in their way if a higher level club wants them."

You can abide by those sentiments while still implementing long contracts and proper payment of transfer fees IMO.

I'm sure we've all had players who were far too good to be playing for us, and fans will wish them well, but I'd like to be in a position of wishing them well while the club takes a fee to release them...


Edited by billesleyexile - 28 Jul 2020 at 10:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CJB1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 11:06
Originally posted by billesleyexile billesleyexile wrote:

Originally posted by 'Hopper 'Hopper wrote:

Has anyone even given a thought as to where these Academy players come from, certainly not the Premiership or even most, if any Championship clubs? 
How about setting up a financiial reward scheme for the Community Clubs who nurture these youths from a very young age.

I've said it for a long time, I don't want it, but it's about time (25 years into professionalism) that we stopped playing the amateur game of "of course we won't stand in their way if a higher level club wants them."

You can abide by those sentiments while still implementing long contracts and proper payment of transfer fees IMO.

I'm sure we've all had players who were far too good to be playing for us, and fans will wish them well, but I'd like to be in a position of wishing them well while the club takes a fee to release them...
That's going to mean tying players up with longer contracts than the one or two year deals that are usual at the moment.  How do you see that going down?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billesleyexile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 11:32
Originally posted by CJB1 CJB1 wrote:

That's going to mean tying players up with longer contracts than the one or two year deals that are usual at the moment.  How do you see that going down?

well firstly it's not going to happen so I don't see it as a problem Wink

It would be a complete sea change and the only way to do it would be for all the clubs to do it, which would amount to, "hello player, here's how the sport now works, take it or leave it" - for a variety of reasons, as I say, it's not going to happen.

You'd have to write the contracts a bit like non-league football, so it would be quite convoluted, but along the lines of "you're signed to us for five years, if we go bust or can't pay you then this is how release works; if a higher level club comes in for you during the 5 years then we have to talk to them (so as not to stand in your way)" etc. 

It would be a complete break with the current normal.

Regardless, the simplest (ha) way to get clubs incentivised for their work, and compensated for losing players (whether developed there or not) is probably contractual. It goes against everything about how RU's been set up since the year dot, but increasingly so do a lot of other things. I'm not saying change or die, but I suppose I am saying we've got to evolve. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billesleyexile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 11:43
for the avoidance of doubt, I wouldn't be starting from here!

Given that we have to start from here, I have to say I'm unpersuaded that the prem clubs will be handing over their academies any time soon, despite the technicality that they're held under RFU licence.

If I held an allotment, and some other people were guerilla gardening on the roundabout, I don't see that my Covid reduced cashflow would persuade me to listen to the guerilla gardeners' proposal to the council that they should have my allotment and draft me the carrots.


Edited by billesleyexile - 28 Jul 2020 at 11:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Halliford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 12:00
This idea also overestimates the ability of many Academy players. As already stated, many Academy players start at Level 4 before moving up. Having been a major user of D/R players over the last 10 years I’ve seen some - Joe Marler for example - who could play Championship but that was after 2 years at Level 4. We had a Quins player two seasons ago who simply wasn’t good enough for Level 3, he left us and went to Level 4 where he has been since. 

I can see some of the logic in this but don’t see it happening.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard Lowther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 12:41
I think that anything that breaks the Premiership clubs total control of the game can't be a bad thing.  If the removal of the Academies in either their current form or in a reduced number led to a weakening of Premiership power then it may ultimately be a good thing. 

I can see the financial attraction for the RFU but I struggle to the concept to tying it to the Championship. It is at best a fudge, at worst not really thought out. 

The draft element is interesting and yet, IMHO, another step towards a ring-fenced closed shop. 

If there is a reduction to 6 Academies then is the logic that there will be a reduction of players to those 6 academies, so where do the rest go - is to back into the Community game with little reward or does the sport lose them?



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote marigold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 16:14
Richard I struggle to see the Premiership clubs agreeing to lose control of the academies. Less may be better as so many of the current Academy players do not make it to full time professional players because they are simply not good enough and having 'failed' sadly give up the game even though they are obviously very good players. I am slightly cynical of the reporting given that the only person speaking about it is Mr Griffiths. If the Championship clubs were all in support surely there would have been some quotes/comments from them backing the plan?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard Lowther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2020 at 18:15
Originally posted by marigold marigold wrote:

Richard I struggle to see the Premiership clubs agreeing to lose control of the academies. Less may be better as so many of the current Academy players do not make it to full time professional players because they are simply not good enough and having 'failed' sadly give up the game even though they are obviously very good players. I am slightly cynical of the reporting given that the only person speaking about it is Mr Griffiths. If the Championship clubs were all in support surely there would have been some quotes/comments from them backing the plan?

It will all depend on the money.  The next part of the RFU/PRL deal is more akin to a profit share rather than an out and out donation from the RFU.  If the RFU haven't got the money to share the PRL will have to cut back somewhere.

It could be that they sacrifice the control of the Academies - ultimately knowing that they will still benefit by picking up the best talent anyway.
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