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RFU/PRL Joint Statement

31 August 2006

31st August 2006
Following a meeting last Thursday between Martyn Thomas Chairman of the RFU Management Board and Francis Baron OBE, RFU Chief Executive, with PRL and owners and senior representatives of the Premier Rugby clubs, agreement was reached on a number of key issues with a commitment to move forward towards finding a new long term agreement to benefit Club and Country.

In view of the positive discussions and the terms outlined below, PRL has agreed to withdraw its appeal in the matter of the Investec Challenge, Celebration Match against New Zealand All Blacks on 5 November 2006 and will fully support the match as a celebration of the success of rugby in England. The RFU will invite all member clubs to be involved in the pre-match events and to be represented at Twickenham on the day.

In last week's meeting, the RFU explained how the international calendar is organised and reiterated that it has no desire to play a fourth autumn international. It also advised PRL that it has not and will not organise a fourth autumn international in the autumn of 2008. Both sides will meet their own litigation costs as a result of the recent litigation.

The RFU has agreed to revise its offer of �1m compensation made in the lead up to the High Court hearing but not accepted by PRL. This will now be paid in cash to PRL instead of a balance of cash and commercial rights. The RFU will now retain all commercial rights to the match.

Agreement has also been reached on the 16 EPS days for England training for the 2006/07 season. These are as follows:
  • Tuesday 19 September
  • Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 25, 26, 27 September
  • Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 2, 3, 4 October
  • Monday & Tuesday 9, 10 October
  • Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 22, 23, 24 January
  • Monday & Tuesday 12, 13 February
  • Monday & Tuesday 26, 27 February

The RFU and PRL have agreed to work together to find a �new way forward' to remove the causes of conflict and discord between the parties. Both parties understand and accept that this will require major moves from previously held positions. These new discussions are to start as soon as possible.

Francis Baron said today "I'm pleased at the progress we made last week. It was a productive meeting, which achieved a satisfactory conclusion on two key issues and a mutually expressed desire to work together in the long term on other matters, which both the RFU and PRL want to resolve for the benefit of England and Premiership clubs".

England Head Coach, Andy Robinson, OBE said "On behalf of the England coaching staff and the squad I'm obviously pleased that the EPS days have been agreed. The first three sessions in September and early October will be held at Loughborough University with test week venues to be announced in due course.

The three day sessions will help our preparation because the first day is often spent with the players in rehab and recovery owing to their club commitments over the weekend and I would like to thank the Premiership clubs for their support to extend some sessions to three days instead of two."

RFU Chairman of the Management Board, Martyn Thomas said "We had a most positive meeting with the club owners and the Chairman of PRL. The atmosphere of the meeting was excellent and we all agreed that in the future we should seek to work together to ensure that we avoid unnecessary litigation.

"It was also most encouraging that we recognised and were able to agree on some major objectives that gave all of us good cause for optimism. To this end I'm delighted that PRL have been in touch and agreed with us a meeting to be held during the week commencing September 4th to negotiate a way forward."

Premier Rugby Chairman Tom Walkinshaw said, "We are pleased that agreement on these issues has now been reached and look forward to future discussions on a balanced way forward."

Premier Rugby Chief Executive Mark McCafferty said, "Both sides have maintained dialogue in an effort to reach a negotiated settlement and I am pleased that last week we were able to reach agreement on this match with the RFU.

We have also been able to agree Andy Robinson's preparation right through until Rugby World Cup 2007 and look forward to supporting England in our quest to retain the trophy.

We now look forward to the opening of the South Stand and to engaging in discussions on the future of the game in England in a spirit of cooperation."