Rushcliffe MP, Ruth Edwards, brought Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to meet with both the Chairman and Director of Rugby at Nottingham Rugby last week.
The visit was to discuss changes to governance within the game.
Coincidentally, the Secretary of State’s constituency is home to Cambridge RFC, who were playing Nottingham that day, but couldn’t get the better of the Rushcliffe based favourites!
Rugby in England has been through a lot of turmoil in its most recent domestic season, with three premiership clubs and one championship club closing their doors and entering administration.
These clubs included the historic Wasps, a giant of English rugby with domestic and European competitions in its history.
This has caused many in rugby to call for structural changes to the game. A new second tier “Premiership 2” has been discussed with academies, player development, and funding, mirroring the system in France. However, the average Championship attendance of 1,300 poses a growth challenge that wouldn’t be addressed overnight.
The 11 Championship clubs have publicly spoken out against this model, believing it would stifle freedom of movement between lower and higher leagues, with set criteria on capacity preventing less affluent clubs, who win their league, from being promoted into the second tier of English rugby.
After the club reached out to her, Ruth was keen to make sure that Ministers in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were aware of the concerns of Nottingham Rugby, who feel that the support of ministers would be beneficial in achieving a workable whole game solution to the problems in domestic rugby.
Ruth said “I want to thank the Secretary of State for coming to meet with Nottingham Rugby. It’s a privilege to have so many fantastic sports clubs in Rushcliffe, and Nottingham Rugby is a big part of that. It is important that their future and the future of all championship rugby clubs is assured.
“We have seen some historic clubs sadly disappear recently and I will support Nottingham Rugby to make sure that their voice is heard in discussions about the future of the game.”
Chair of Nottingham Rugby, Alistair Bow said: “I am very grateful to Lucy Frazer for taking the time to meet with me at the Chair of Nottingham Rugby and as Vice Chair of the Championship. Thank you also to Ruth for arranging it.
“I was really pleased that the Secretary of State was willing to speak with us about our concerns for current proposals for a “whole game solution” for rugby, and how we worry that they will disproportionately benefit the 10 premiership clubs in their current form.
“If we are to really to provide a whole game solution, the Championship clubs and those further down the pyramid need to have their voices heard and listened to.”