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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 12:46 GMT
Clubs agree truce with Twickenham
England captain Phil Vickery
Phil Vickery will get an individually tailored programme next season
The Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby have unveiled a new deal designed to end the club-v-country rows which have plagued the sport in England.

The deal, which runs from July 2008 until 2016, will see the RFU give 110m to the Premiership clubs in exchange for more time with elite players.

England players will be released 13 or 14 days before Test matches, giving them more preparation time.

And a bespoke elite player management scheme is designed to avoid "burn-out".

Three Elite Player Squads - Senior, Saxons and Under-20s - will be created, each consisting of 32 players.

At the start of each season, the management of the players in the squads will be agreed with players in the Senior squad playing no more than 32 games in a season.

England players released 13 or 14 days before autumn internationals, Six Nations or summer tours
Clubs to receive 110m over the course of the agreement
Clubs to have right to sell their own TV and sponsorship rights
Creation of 32-man Elite Player Squads, at Senior, Saxons and Under-20 level
Formation of Elite Player Management Programme to prevent "burn-out" of top players
Creation of a Professional Game Board to oversee the deal

The issues covered by the new agreement have been the cause of a series of disagreements between the RFU and the clubs since rugby union turned professional in 1995.

Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward resigned from his position in 2004, citing his frustration at the lack of progress in the relationship between the two parties.

In November 2006, PRL, the governing body of the Guinness Premiership, took legal action against the RFU when it organised a Test match outside an official international window.

But after months of negotiations, the two sides have finally ended hostilities and decided on the terms of a deal which will replace the previous "long-form agreement".

"I'm very pleased to have negotiated this agreement," said RFU chief executive Francis Baron.

"It has taken a considerable amount of time, but it was vital to get it right and seek to resolve, once and for all, the issues that have caused 'club v country' conflict through a long-term agreement that is right for the game as a whole.


"Our aim has been to produce the most comprehensive and detailed agreement covering the professional game that has been drawn up anywhere in the world.

"We believe we have done that. We have secured an agreement which both gives the national side the strongest platform it has ever had to maintain and build on its success, while maintaining the integrity of our excellent club game."

Premier Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said the financial aspects of the deal - part of which allow the clubs to sell their own TV and media rights - were crucial.

"The agreement provides a good balance between what England needs to build on their success and what the clubs need to continue the rapid growth of the professional club game," he said.

"In addition to the monies being paid by the RFU, it was essential for Premier Rugby and its clubs to secure the full financial potential of their commercial rights in their leading competitions.

"The real work now lies ahead of us to translate this agreement into sporting success and inspiration for those involved in the game at every level."

Rob Andrew
This is one of the most significant agreements that has been reached in the last 10 years

RFU director of elite rugby Rob Andrew

A Professional Game Board will be formed to oversee the agreement, chaired initially by current RFU chairman Martyn Thomas.

It will contain four representatives each from the RFU and Premier Rugby, two from the Professional Rugby Players Association - chief executive Damian Hopley and chairman David Barnes - plus First Division Rugby executive director Geoff Cooke.

Other responsibilities for the Board include reviewing and monitoring performances of the England teams, drawing up the professional domestic season structure and recommending changes in criteria for membership of the Premiership.

RFU director of elite rugby Rob Andrew, a former director of rugby with Newcastle Falcons, helped to broker the deal.

"A lot of people have worked very hard on this deal," said Andrew.

"It's the first time we have reached an agreement, which is a sustainable English solution for the English game, since the game went professional in 1995 and everyone should be congratulated on that.

"I think it's the first time that all the parties have fully understood the issues and this is one of the most significant agreements that has been reached in the last 10 to 12 years."

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03 Sep 04 |  Rugby Union
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03 Sep 04 |  Internationals
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03 Sep 04 |  Internationals


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