Clubs warn they are serious about Super League proposal
December 11, 1999

English club owners on Friday warned the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to take their plans for a British Super League seriously.

Tom Walkinshaw, chairman of English First Division Rugby, presented his plans for the new league and spelled out that he believes it is the right way to stabilise domestic rugby.

The documents he and 11 other club owners presented to the RFU involved creating a league of 10 English super clubs, plus four Welsh clubs and two Scottish clubs, to play on a home-and away basis over 30 matches a season.

The brief also guaranteed national coaches Clive Woodward, Ian McGeechan and Graham Henry that their international stars would play no more than 35 games a season (25 club matches plus 10 internationals).

"Rugby is in a mess," said Walkinshaw -whose proposals will be considered by the RFU on December 22.

"What we have tried to do here is to create something which will give some financial viability to the game and stop the haemorrhaging of money from clubs.

"All we have done is to look at the game and see how we can improve the situation. We want to raise the standard of English rugby, improve the level of northern hemisphere rugby as a whole, complement the Heineken (European)Cup and provide the best possible platform to win the 2003 World Cup."

Walkinshaw blasted the RFU for refusing to hear the clubs' presentation and instead requesting it be sent by post to Twickenham.

He said: "It is unthinkable that the RFU will reject this document out of hand without having lengthy discussions with us.

"They are to look at the way in which a Super League could work, and we want to create it in partnership with the union.

"This is designed to improve the standard of English rugby, but we find we are being stonewalled by the RFU. All the clubs are in favour at the moment and have signed a legally-binding agreement but we will move forward with the idea.

"What the RFU have to realise is that this game is bust, and we have to do something radical in order to fix it."

Walkinshaw also hinted that, if necessary, EFDR would continue without the RFU, in the event of continuing opposition.

"We will approach that if we have to and look at the situation should that eventuality arrive," he said. "But we very much want to do this in partnership with the RFU and create a better footing for the game in England."

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