Falkirk and several rival clubs had wanted the Super6, launched in 2019, to be ditched and the sport’s old inter-district championship brought back in its place next year, and Glasgow Hutchesons' Aloysians put a forward a motion calling for that change to this year’s Scottish Rugby Union annual general meeting.
At its AGM, however, the sport’s governing body got an amended version of that proposal passed by 72 votes to 46 allowing for both the retention of the Super6 and the addition of an inter-district championship.
Both Falkirk president Bill Faulds and Grangemouth Stags secretary Dom Ward spoke out in favour of the original motion at the meeting, held at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, and the former told the Falkirk Herald: "Super6 has never gone down particularly well with most of Scotland because you have created six super-clubs that effectively get extra funding.
“These six clubs – Southern Knights, Ayrshire Bulls, Stirling County, Boroughmuir Bears, Heriot’s and Watsonians – have been set aside. There is no possibility of a Falkirk progressing to the Premiership and then becoming a Super6 club.
“There are three Super6 clubs in Edinburgh, none in Glasgow, one in Melrose, one in Ayrshire, one in Stirling, so the allocation means that a lot of clubs are aggrieved at not being picked.
“My laddie Glen plays for Boroughmuir, so any player that goes from a club like ourselves to the Super6 goes with my blessing and you hope they come back to you later on.
“If you have produced a player good enough to go to Super6, hopefully you can produce another three or four that are decent club players.
“My older laddie Connor plays for Falkirk. He’s good enough in my opinion to play Super6, but he now has an opportunity to play for Caledonia district, so why would he go to Super6? I think a number of the better players will think the same.
“Albeit the motion was amended, I think it’s great that we are introducing districts, which I think will be very well supported. I think the districts might cause the demise of Super6."
An SRU statement issued following its AGM reads: “Delegates voted in favour of an amendment from the Scottish Rugby council and board by 72 votes to 46 after a motion was presented by GHA with regards to the Fosroc Super6 competition and an inter-district championship.
“The amended motion agreed was that a modernised version of the Scottish inter-district championship, with the inclusion of a potential Scottish exiles squad, be reinstated for senior men’s rugby at levels below Super6, to commence no later than season 2023-24 but subject always to the rugby development department, in conjunction with the Scottish Rugby council, or any successor to it, having first conducted a detailed consultation with members and players on whether an inter-district championship should be reinstated and, if sufficiently supported, the format and timing of such a competition.
“That consultation process should, if practicable, be completed by no later than January 31, 2022, and the outcomes published.”
If given the go-ahead after that consultation, the inter-district championship would see Falkirk players turning out for a Caledonia district team in addition to playing for the Horne Park team’s first XV in Tennent’s National League Division 2 over the course of its regular campaign.
GHA’s original motion that a modernised version of the old inter-district championship, potentially featuring an exiles squad, be introduced in the 2022-23 season, read: “Resources currently directed by Scottish Rugby from the domestic rugby budget towards the Super6 tournament should be reallocated to support the Scottish inter-district championship and club rugby in order to support the player development pathway.
“The inter-district championship represents a better model because Super6 is aligned to six member clubs and creates a glass ceiling for clubs outside those six as there is no promotion or relegation into Super6.
“This creates a monopoly within a selected tier of the domestic clubs. This undermines the pyramid structure and prevents fair competition. This poses a risk to the long-term growth of the domestic game.”
Falkirk also backed a Glasgow Hawks motion calling for greater transparency from the SRU about how it's spending the £20m in Covid-19 emergency funding it got from the Scottish Government last year, and that call was carried overwhelmingly.
Faulds added: "I think it’s a shame that a number of clubs across Scotland felt it was necessary for that motion.
“The only way we got information was through freedom of information.
“The money was secured for clubs. The vast majority of it has not gone to clubs.
“I don’t think they are misspending it, but it was secured to go to clubs.
“The SRU are trying to say they’ve got different budgets but ultimately they’ve got a finite pot.
“It’s going to support a whole variety of things.
“When we get the money, we are looking to upgrade our changing pavilion, which is probably the worst in Scotland.
“We want to take it off the council and update it. That is going to cost us the best part of £300,000.”