A Premiership Rugby moratorium on relegation for the 2020/21 campaign was approved by the RFU Council today.
The collaborative agreement across the RFU, Championship and Premiership Rugby sees the top-flight competition expanded to 13 teams from next season.
There will be no relegation from the top-flight into the Championship at the end of the 2020-21 season, and no relegation from the Championship into National One.
Promotion into the Gallagher Premiership remains for the winner of the Championship, provided the winner of the 2020-21 Greene King IPA Championship is eligible for promotion under the Minimum Standards Criteria.
The new structure has unanimous support of the Premiership Rugby clubs.
“We welcome today’s decision and thank the RFU Council members for their support,” said Darren Childs, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby.
“The priority for everyone involved has been to protect the long-term sustainability and success of English professional rugby for the fans and clubs who have endured huge financial and sporting challenges throughout the last two seasons.”Darren Childs, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby
“The progress being made collaboratively with all our key stakeholders across the sport has been fantastic. Our focus remains on continuing to strengthen that alignment through transparency and dialogue around the long-term success of the game at a domestic and national level in England.”
RFU Council members considered the impact Covid-19 has had on all areas of the game, including the earlier decision to suspend promotion and relegation in the community game and the Gallagher Premiership cancelling a significant number of matches in the 2020/21 season.
These cancellations have resulted in a material impact on league positions which could mean relegation based on cancellation rather than on-field merit. Over the next four months the RFU, Premiership Rugby and Championship representatives will work on recommendations for changes to the season structures for 2021/22 and beyond for both the Premiership and Championship.
RFU President, HH Jeff Blackett, said: “The RFU Council has taken time to understand and discuss all the factors regarding no relegation for this season so that we act in the best interests of all levels of the game.
“We want to ensure a healthy elite game to support successful winning England teams that generate income to stimulate and preserve the game across all levels.
“The Council will continue to be closely engaged with the proposals from the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship to ensure we maintain the integrity of the future league structures for England Rugby.”