Clubs win battle of Brittle to avert split

Rugby Union

English rugby union last night pulled back from the brink when a tortuous day of negotiations culminated in a settlement between the Rugby Football Union and the First and Second Division clubs who had been threatening to secede. At the 11th hour the clubs have ended up with virtually everything they wanted.

Agreement was achieved only when the full committee of the RFU, called to an emergency meeting in London, effectively circumvented the head of their own negotiating team, Cliff Brittle, by accepting that the clubs in membership of English Professional Rugby Union Clubs would have control of, and the proceeds from, the competitions in which they participate so as to help finance the new professional club game.

The clubs will henceforth be represented in, and be signatories to, all television and sponsorship negotiations. "We will be joint signatories to those agreements and the money will come to the clubs," Donald Kerr, the Epruc chairman, said. "It will get professional club rugby off the ground with a major source of income for us and a recognition that we are finally moving into professional club rugby.''

The clubs have formally agreed to remain within the RFU, to play in all RFU domestic and other competitions, and to recognise the primacy of England and representative rugby within player contracts - though, critically, these will be held by the clubs and not the union.

The contention may not quite be ended, because the union had already been warned that if it acceded to the clubs' demands an attempt would be made by the English Rugby Counties' Association - an important Brittle supporter when he was elected chairman of the RFU's executive committee at a special general meeting in August - to overturn the agreement at another special meeting.

However, Brittle indicated that the deal would satisfy the grass roots no less than the senior clubs, so did not anticipate a counter-revolution. Whether that eventuates remains to be seen. When yesterday's proceedings finally ended Brittle took his place at the table along with those who have been his sworn enemies when the announcement was made.

In the end Epruc got more or less what it had wanted, including a First Division of 12 clubs for one season only in 1996-97. Saracens and West Hartlepool are thereby spared relegation. The union and Epruc will now draw up a contract under which the clubs will in effect run their own affairs while remaining in the RFU.

The ending was fittingly protracted given the months of fruitless and occasionally ill-natured talks that had led Epruc as recently as Tuesday to recommend that its members set up on their own. Yesterday morning the committee for the first time received a presentation directly from Epruc, followed by a report from Brittle of the final position worked out by his negotiating team at an eight-hour meeting on Thursday night.

It then took all afternoon and into the evening for a detailed resolution to be drawn up - which was then sent for amendment to Epruc representatives. "We are very happy with this agreement," Brittle said. "There are no winners or losers. The game is the winner." Which was not something that could fairly be said during these recent months.

Brittle insisted neither he nor the RFU had backed down but clearly something happened yesterday and afterwards Peter Wheeler, the chief executive of Leicester, was clear that the clubs had had the majority of their case upheld, albeit while staying under Twickenham's auspices.

"What the clubs have decided is that basically the Rugby Football Union will govern the game in England and they will take part in competitions we govern," Brittle added. "There has been a meeting of minds." This is a remarkable reflection on the successful outcome from a man who has consistently been painted by Epruc as the biggest single obstacle to a resolution.

The way is now at last clear for the clubs to get on with the difficult business of signing up their players. "What has happened has given the clubs the basis on which they can move into a professional club era," Wheeler said. "We all know roughly what sort of money is about and we can now enter into the contracts we need with our players.''

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker