URC considers draft system to create a more ‘competitive’ league
The United Rugby Championship (URC) is looking to introduce a draft system to improve the league’s competitiveness.
This season, Leinster lost just one game and drew another during their regular season, while on the opposite end of the table, Zebre Parma lost all 18 games.
URC chief executive Martin Anayi says the league is exploring options to improve the standard of weaker teams and give fringe players more game time.
“There might be an ability to draft in players from the other unions who aren’t getting game time,” Anayi told BBC 5 Live. “That is 100% [a conversation].”
Unlike the Top 14 and previously the Premiership, the URC has no relegation and promotion. With the league being closed, Anayi explains that the URC needs to be open to other solutions to improve teams.
“There is a natural filter system to relegation, one team goes down, and the team that comes up is full of expectation because they have won the league below; we don’t have that in a closed league,” he added.
“Our job is to find ways of helping the likes of Zebre and the Italian Federation to make them more competitive.
“In American sports, they have a system for doing that, the draft system. We don’t have that, so we need to think a bit more laterally about that question.”
Improving the league and Six Nations
Anayi adds that the depth some of the teams have means that all their players can’t get game time and explains that the draft system could help with that.
“Ireland have so much talent they are trying to work out how does everybody get game-time, while Scotland have two teams, so that creates a bottleneck for them,” he said.
“So those are avenues we are trying to explore. We are setting up a high-performance think-tank to help us with that question, from a league-wide point of view.
“Zebre has been at the bottom of our table for a wee while, and we need to try and do something to help them.”
Introducing the draft system could have an impact on the Six Nations too.
Anayi says there is enough collaboration from the clubs without concerns from the unions about improving rival sides as it could be beneficial for all the sides.
“We have that collaboration at union level. They see the league is better and more commercially viable if all the teams are competitive,” he added.
“And secondly they want the Six Nations to be competitive. Our unions can see that helping Zebre is a good thing both for the league and also for the Six Nations.”
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