Skewed finances leave Championship a poor second best

 

News of the agonising decision facing poor old Theo Walcott – the Arsenal player who can barely sleep at night, worrying whether he might sell himself catastrophically short by signing a new contract worth a mere £75,000 a week – puts the second tier of English rugby and its business model into some kind of perspective.

The resolutely unsponsored RFU Championship begins this evening when Nottingham meet Leeds at Meadow Lane and, whatever the outcome of the game, neither club will find themselves rolling in cash.

Provided clubs meet requirements on fielding English-qualified personnel, they will receive around £300,000 each from the central pot. That's £300,000 for the entire squad for the entire campaign, not per player per month. The governing body thought this agreement was worthy of a small fanfare when it announced the details a few days ago, but the teams involved are not in the mood to throw a party. As Geoff Irvine, chairman of the highly competitive Bedford Blues, put it: "It would cost millions to move up to the Premiership. What's wrong with being the 14th best club in the country?"

There is no obvious sign of the Championship developing at anything like the pace of the Pro D2 league in France, which this season features some of the most driven clubs in the land, no fewer than 10 of whom are attempting to regain top-flight status. In England, only a minority of contenders are interested in promotion.

At least the players will be interested in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take on the New Zealand Maori, one of world rugby's more evocative sides, during the autumn. Now called the "Maori All Blacks", the tourists will play three games in England in November: against Leicester at Welford Road, the Canadian Test team in Oxford (where else?) and a Championship XV at Castle Park, the home of the Doncaster club. Mike Rayer, the rugby director at Bedford, will coach the select side, aided by Liam Middleton of Bristol and Diccon Edwards of Leeds.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower