In November 2011, the Rugby Football Union convened a Review Group with the support of Wharton’s Neil Tunnicliffe to review Rugby Union’s adult competition structure – with a view to ensuring its fitness for purpose in the light of changes both in the nature of the game and in the society in which it is played. The review covers all adult male competition from Level 3 to Level 12, as well as the women’s and students games, Sevens and Touch. In the past 12 months, with Wharton’s support, the Review has conducted wide-ranging consultation throughout the Community Game. Different consultation exercises and methodologies have been employed to canvass the views of a comprehensive range of stakeholders – players (male and female) and coaches, referees, Constituent Bodies, DOCs, league organisers, clubs, students and universities, the NCA, and the RFU’s field-based workforce. To date, this consultation has gathered the views of the following:

  • Over 1800 current and lapsed players, through independent market research
  • 246 rugby clubs from Levels 3 to 12, and all areas of England
  • All four Divisional Organising Committees
  • Nineteen Constituent Bodies
  • Over 60 league competition organisers from regional, county and local levels
  • Eighteen Referee Societies
  • 268 students and 65 university staff
  • 136 regional and local rugby development personnel

Consideration has also been given to previous studies and research projects conducted by the RFU and Sport England which give insight into this area; and the competition structures of other Unions and team sports have been reviewed to determine what can be learned from them. The Review Group held a two-day workshop in November to assess the data collected so far from the consultation and research programme. The project remains ongoing into 2013, with a view to finalising recommendations and consulting further with the Community Game prior to implementation.

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