Championship scraps play-offs

Date published: March 3 2017

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) Council has approved a three-season plan to remove the end-of-season play-off system in the Championship.

From next season, the club who finishes top of the table will be crowned the winner of the Greene King IPA Championship and will be promoted into the Premiership the following season if they satisfy the ‘minimum standards criteria’.

The new format was agreed and supported by the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship clubs.

Additional funding from the RFU and Premiership Rugby (PRL) will be provided to Championship clubs as a result of an agreement between the three parties.

“The first-past-the-post system will allow the promoted club a greater amount of time to recruit ahead of the next season which is important for their preparation in playing in the Premiership,” said RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.

“In addition, all of the clubs will also benefit from extra funding provided by the RFU and Premiership Rugby. It was also important for this regulation change to be agreed in principle by the RFU Council to allow clubs certainty regarding budget planning for next season.”

The multi-million pound deal over three seasons will include increased payments to each club plus the opportunity to secure meritocracy payments based on the clubs’ final position in the table to ensure competition among clubs throughout the entirety of the season. This funding differs to the payments already made to clubs by the RFU and PRL.

Bristol were promoted to the Premiership last season, having missed out via the play-off system the previous two campaigns despite topping the league.

And Mark McCafferty, chief executive at Premiership Rugby, added the agreement would allow newly-promoted teams to adequately plan for the top flight.

“It’s vital that any club being promoted from the Greene King IPA Championship is as prepared as it can be to compete, given the quality and intensity of Premiership Rugby,” said McCafferty

“The current play-off system does not always help with that whereas a return to first-past-the-post from next season will provide the potential for more advanced planning and recruitment.”