RFU and Premiership Rugby sign new £225m agreement

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Saracens' Alex Goode
The new deal is worth more than double the previous agreement between the RFU and Premiership clubs

A new eight-year deal worth more than £225m has been agreed between the Rugby Football Union and Premiership clubs - with England getting more flexibility and greater player access in return.

Clubs will earn more for releasing players for international duty, as well as meeting the English-qualified players target and academy standards.

England will get two more training camps a season and larger elite squad.

"This is a true partnership," said RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.

"[It is] focused on making English rugby the best in the world for club and country."

The agreement is worth more than double the previous one, which was signed in 2007, and will give England greater flexibility in selection, with the Elite Player Squad (EPS) expanded from 33 to 45 players, while during core periods 36 players can be selected for camps rather than 33.

Ritchie said England head coach Eddie Jones "was heavily involved" in the process and "is very supportive of the result - Eddie is very happy with the access this gives him to players".

Eddie Jones
The news has been well received by England head coach Jones

In terms of player welfare, England players who play a certain number of minutes throughout the autumn series will now have a mandatory one weekend rest period over Christmas.

"Player welfare, as ever, is a priority for us all, and so further rest periods have been built into the season," Ritchie added.

Premiership clubs will also benefit for the first time if the RFU performs well financially.

The first four year payment from the RFU to the clubs is fixed at £112m, but the second four year payment could be higher.

"Success for England and the clubs depends on an effective partnership between the RFU and Premiership Rugby on many levels," said Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty.

"The significantly increased monies to the Premiership clubs, alongside their own increased TV and commercial revenues, will ensure that Aviva Premiership Rugby continues to go from strength-to-strength."

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