RFU Championship 2011/12 launch

Launch 2011

25th August  2011


RFU Championship 2011/12 launch

The RFU Championship 2011/12 launch took place at Twickenham on Tuesday.

The Pirates were represented by skipper Gavin Cattle and team manager Jan Rendall.

Gavin Cattle

Now in its third year, the Championship has continued to provide high paced, high scoring action with an average of five tries scored per game in the 2010-11 season.

At the launch Rob Andrew, the RFU's director of operations, said the Championship appears to be going from strength to strength, although for the clubs and their supporters there is frustration that English club rugby's second tier competition is set to enter yet another campaign without a title sponsor.

Andrew admits the lack of a title sponsor it is a concern but believes the current economic instability is not aiding the task. Andrew said:

"It is difficult and it's an issue we're looking at. We continue to work hard with the Championship to find a sponsor for the league and the British and Irish Cup. Yet we have to recognise the marketplace we are in.

"We all hope it's only a question of time and we're working towards that moment. There are lots of good things in the pipeline. I think in the end the product will sell and we need to keep on working hard to make it better."

During the official launch of the 2011-12 Championship season - one recurring theme was the number of players who have plied their trade in England's second-tier now turning out week-in-week-out in the Premiership - a fact further highlighted by former Bedford lock Mouritz Botha's debut for England on Saturday.

And Andrew believes the latest funding agreement - which states that clubs will only receive RFU support if they fulfil the quota of 14 English qualified players in a matchday squad - will mean more Championship experienced players appearing in a red rose jersey in the near future. He explained:

"We have mirrored some of the funding that we have put into the Premiership and said to the Championship clubs that all of the RFU funding will be conditional on them producing English Qualified Players (EQP).

So, as with the Premiership, they have to have a minimum of 14 EQP players in the match day squad to receive funding.

Effectively, all of the RFU funding is now conditional on producing what we need for the development and success of the game at the top level."

Joining the league this year are London Scottish – promoted from SSE National League 1 – and Leeds Carnegie who were relegated from the Aviva Premiership in May this year.