RFU Proposed National Policy Allowing Lower XV Teams to Play up to Level 7 in the English Club Championship – Ballot of KCRFU Member Clubs

The RFU Council approved in April 2021, a national policy allowing Lower XV teams to play up to Level 7 in the English Club Championship (ECC) – the RFU leagues, as it believes this will improve player welfare, reduce travel time/distance, improve the player experience/quality of the competition and support club sustainability. This is the default position for all CBs for the 2022-23 season.

The RFU invited clubs to express an interest in entering their respective Lower XVs into the ECC. Ten clubs from Kent have done so.

The KCRFU has determined that, in the spirit of transparency and openness, it should ballot its member clubs (who are also full voting member clubs of the RFU). 

Why the need for a ballot?

The aim of the ballot is to elicit a definitive and Kent-wide view as to whether or not it supports Lower XV teams joining the ECC.

Each of the County’s clubs will have varying opinions on this proposed new policy. 

There are clearly pros & cons, which each of our clubs will want to consider, including what the potential impact will be (positive or negative) for themselves, as well as for other clubs. These include those potential benefits already identified by the RFU, as stated above. Other considerations include, for example: 

  • the ability (or not) consistently from 2022-23 to fulfil league fixtures by Lower XVs; 
  • whether participation in the ECC will improve playing standards and make clubs more attractive to new players; 
  • imbalance / lack of competitiveness Lower XVs and 1st XVs in the same league, with ‘cricket score’ victories / losses; 
  • what the impact of any lack of competitiveness may have to clubs and player morale; and
  • whether recruitment to participating clubs will be at the expense of recruitment to non-participating ones (and the consequential loss of membership, revenue, and sustainability).

For those clubs who have expressed an interest in the proposal, this does not guarantee entry into the ECC. Should the ballot result in support of the proposal, these clubs will have to submit a formal application for entry of their Lower XVs into the ECC, which will then be assessed against the entry criteria (see attached).

The RFU’s Future Competitions Structure Implementation Commission has produced a set of FAQs (attached), which will assist clubs in considering the issues as they relate to them.

Lower XV teams within a CB will not be permitted to play in leagues operated by that CB in the ECC at Level 7 and below, if clubs vote by a two-thirds majority (of those clubs voting).

Should the ballot produce a vote in favour of the proposal, official entry application window for Lower XV teams wishing to join the ECC opens on 28th February and closes on 18th March. The KCRFU will assess Lower XV applications against the entry criteria (attached) soon after the deadline closes on 18th March. Thereafter, The FCS Implementation Commission will agree the positioning of Lower XVs at Level 7 & below in the league structure in accordance with finalised entry criteria and DOC/CB proposals

The Ballot and Resolution

The Resolution being submitted to clubs on which to vote (in relation to supporting or not supporting the national policy of Lower XV teams joining the ECC), has been prescribed by the FCS Implementation Commission, and is as follows:

Do you support Lower XV teams from your CB playing in the English Club Championship (ECC)? 

Clubs are invited to cast their vote either in favour of or against the Resolution; please answer ‘Yes’ or No’

Voting deadline

Clubs must submit their votes by email to the Hon. Secretary (honsec@kent-rugby.orgby no later than noon on Monday 14 February. Any votes received after this deadline will not be counted.

The KCRFU will then forward the results of the vote to the FCS Implementation Commission by no later than noon on 18 February 2022.

Nigel Fray

Hon. Secretary & Director of Governance