Aviva Premiership
RFU confirms promotion change
ESPN Staff
May 21, 2012
The Rugby Football Union's operations director director Rob Andrew addresses the media, England press conference, Auckland, New Zealand, October 9, 2011
The RFU's Rob Andrew has helped simplify the promotion process from the Championship to the Premiership for next season © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership
Teams: England

The Rugby Football Union has confirmed that it is streamlining the promotion process from the Championship to Premiership for next season.

After consultation with the Championship Clubs Committee the top four teams will now play a two-legged semi-final, ahead of a two-legged final to decide on who goes up, while the bottom side will automatically be relegated to the SSE National League 1.

Currently the top eight teams are divided into two groups, while the bottom-four form a relegation play-off group. The idea was to give the clubs extra matches and greater revenue, but came under fire as it rendered the 22 regular season matches largely irrelevant and didn't give clubs enough time to plan for the following season.

"The reduction from an eight team promotion play-off to four will ultimately reward those clubs who best perform across the season, whilst encouraging a hugely competitive league to reach the top four," the RFU's professional rugby director Rob Andrew said. "The amended structure also shows a further commitment to the British & Irish Cup which will include six pool matches played on a similar format to European Rugby Cup competitions."

The new structure will provide 11 home games for the Championship clubs and a minimum of six games in the revised British & Irish Cup, which will now run across nine weeks with six pool rounds, concluded by three weeks of knock-out stages of quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

This year the first leg of the final between London Welsh and Cornish Pirates takes place on May 23, with the second leg on May 30.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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