Doncaster Knights: Championship clubs set to ‘buddy up’ with Premiership giants?

Clive Griffiths
Clive Griffiths
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Doncaster Knights could potentially ‘buddy up’ with an Aviva Premiership club if radical plans to save the Championship get the go-ahead.

But only if Doncaster have no interest in gaining promotion to the top flight.

The proposal, reported last month by The Rugby Paper (TRP), has been presented to Premiership clubs and is being driven by RFU director of professional rugby Nigel Melville.

It would see second tier sides ‘buddy up’ with a Premiership team and loan up to 12 players from them per matchday, providing more senior game time for Premiership squad players and academy prospects.

Championship clubs would have to state their promotion intentions before a season starts. ‘Buddy clubs’ would not be eligible for promotion.

Amid the financial problems that have affected London Welsh and Jersey, among others, Knights boss Clive Griffiths recently added his voice to the growing calls for more RFU-funding for Championship clubs.

The buddy system is seen as a viable way of helping Championship clubs cut costs and survive.

A source told TRP: “The Championship clubs have squads of 35 professionals and semi-pros they can’t afford and the Premiership clubs have got massive squads of 50-70 professionals, a lot of whom don’t play, so why don’t we marry the two together and find a solution to benefit everybody?

“Buddying-up will mean standard of rugby in the Championship will rocket and clubs like Rotherham and Nottingham will not have to spend all their money on players and coaches. It’ll mean they can stabilise their ships, upgrade facilities, grow crowds and still have a route to the top.”

Knights were contacted by The Star but chose not to comment on the proposals.