London (AFP) – The play-off system currently used to determine promotion to English rugby union’s elite Premiership is to be scrapped, it was announced Friday.
Instead the team finishing the top at the end of the regular season in the second-tier Championship will be promoted, subject to their ground meeting Premiership criteria.
The new set-up, which will be introduced next season, comes as part of a three-year package which will see Championship clubs receive additional funding from both England’s governing Rugby Football Union and the Premiership itself.
An aim is to give promoted clubs more time to recruit Premiership-level players and so decrease the risk of them going straight back down the following season.
Officials also hope the new set-up will help clubs avoid a repeat of the problems that saw cash-strapped Championship club London Welsh kicked out of professional rugby in January following an unsuccessful foray into the Premiership.
“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 Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive, in a statement.
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