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Rugby Football Union agree eight-year partnership with Premiership Rugby Limited

Published 25/07/2016

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie has hailed a new eight-year partnership with Premiership Rugby Limited
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie has hailed a new eight-year partnership with Premiership Rugby Limited

England's aim of becoming the dominant force in the global game has been strengthened by a new agreement signed by the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby Limited.

The eight-year partnership between Twickenham and the Aviva Premiership clubs, worth over £200million, will give head coach Eddie Jones greater access to players, a later deadline for selection, two additional training camps and more rest periods for his Grand Slam winners.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: "This is a true partnership focussed on making English rugby the best in the world for club and country."

Negotiations over the new deal began two years ago and were interrupted by the stand-off over the structure of European club competition and last autumn's World Cup, when Ritchie was forced to deal with the fallout of England's group exit.

Ritchie's key act was to appoint Jones as Stuart Lancaster's replacement and that decision has been rewarded with a Grand Slam and last month's 3-0 series whitewash of Australia.

Jones' view on elements of the ground-breaking agreement helped shape its format.

Ritchie said: "Eddie was heavily involved in all the situations around the deal and is very supportive.

"We feel we've got the balance right and Eddie is very happy with the access it gives him to players."

The 'Professional Game Agreement' will see the size of the England Elite Player Squad increase from 33 to 45 with up to 36 players able to be selected for training camps.

Critically, Jones will be able to finalise his EPS squad in the first week of October when previously the deadline was late August, before the Premiership season had even begun.

The additional training camps will take place in early October ahead of the autumn internationals and in January during the build-up to the RBS 6 Nations.

Players who pass a threshold of minutes played in November and during the Six Nations will be given an extra mandatory rest period of one weekend, in addition to the existing 10-week summer off-season for England's internationals.

PRL chief executive Mark McCafferty said: "Eddie has come to meet with our board on a couple of occasions to explain his view of the English game and where he was hoping to take it.

"One of the things he explained very clearly having worked all over the world was that we have the best set-up in the world in terms of facilities, back-up and support.

"But he also explained his frustration that because of that, and with the player base we have, that we need to be more successful at club and international level."

The deal is worth in the region of £2million per club annually and is twice the size of the previous eight-year arrangement.

Ritchie said: "It's been a fairly intensive deal with a few gaps because we felt we had to get it right - it's a hugely important and very significant financial deal.

"The guaranteed payment on the first four years is £112 million and we all hope that in the second four years that figure will grow, but there are no guarantees."

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