There are fresh reports that the RFU may be open to ring fencing the Premiership

There are fresh reports that the RFU may be open to ring fencing the Premiership

The Rugby Football Union has softened its opposition to ring-fencing the Premiership, with Nigel Melville conceding they might have to look at it going forward.

The argument is that the gap between the leagues is too great to bridge with five of the last six promoted teams coming straight back down

“I came into the Premiership in 1995 and I think every year we have talked about promotion and relegation and the relevance of it since 1995, and we’re still where we were,” revealed Melville to the Telegraph.

“We’ve fiddled around with play-offs, we’ve done different things in different ways. Is ring-fencing good or bad?

“The point that Mark did make is the gap is massive. The gap to jump between one and the other is significant in terms of facilities, significant in terms of financing, and also making sure you’ve got a squad capable of competing.

“To go up and come down like a yo-yo club every year is probably not a good thing. If the gap continues to get wider and wider, it makes it more difficult to get up there.

“At the moment the dream is still there if somebody wants to go for it.

He was then asked about Bristol Bears promotion to the Premiership.

“It is going to be interesting,” Melville added.

“A team with lots of resource going back into the Premiership to really give it a go. You look at professional rugby as a whole, and whether clubs are sustainable is always going to be a challenge. No one wants to see a London Welsh come up, come down, spend too much money, get into financial difficulties.

“We don’t want that for any of our clubs, to lose clubs. We want strong, vibrant clubs where we can develop players. That comes down to levels of wages. We need wages to be realistic, based on revenues coming in. That’s the same for any professional sport, for professional rugby and everybody else.

“If we can stay in two levels and promote and relegate every year, we can make sure that gap is not too wide and clubs are sustained and stronger, fine. But if we can’t, we have to look at it.”