I am heartbroken by the passing of Wasps, but English rugby must learn to thrive, not just survive

I am heartbroken by the passing of Wasps, but English rugby must learn to thrive, not just survive

The disappearance of the wasps is indicative of a larger problem. The clubs that have been able to last are those that have owned their own grounds. If you have your own stadium, you can control what happens within its walls, from corporate functions to how much food and drink is put in the box on match days. There is an important point to stress here: owners who buy clubs cannot do so to make money. They have to buy clubs because it’s their passion.

I don’t know how many Premiership clubs break even, but I’d venture to assume you need 12,000-15,000 regular supporters to help keep it afloat. There are so many hidden costs for clubs sharing grounds and there is a lot of talk about the London Irish’s future at Brentford.

We could see the RFU picking up the pieces and overthrowing English rugby with a model that has long been favored by other unions by centrally contracted players. Ireland, along with the All Blacks, are the two notable examples of how central contracts are a sustainable way to support international players, even if it would mean clubs would inevitably give up some control over them.

The other alternative is for clubs to partly foot the bill, although if the trigger is pulled there could be a fallout. The best time to do this would be right after a World Cup because from an English perspective any upheaval before then could potentially disrupt Eddie Jones preparation.

Then there is the magic number – how much would you contract? Despite being limited to 36 players per team, Jones is used to having a large pool of players at his disposal and there is a high turnover of personnel between camps. The additional challenge of centrally contracting a limited number of players is that their value skyrockets as they would potentially operate outside of any league salary cap.

Before Covid there was such a craze for our big game – just like we see with the women’s world cup currently in New Zealand. The Premiership is a great product. It is home to some of the best players and teams in the world. We want it to thrive, not just survive.

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