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RFU Statement on London Scottish playoff regulation request

19 April 2012

  • RFU statement on London Scottish playoffs regulation
  • Rationale published below regarding number of wins in Stage 2
Statement on London Scottish 

Photo: RFU Archive

London Scottish requested clarification by the RFU Championship Organising Committee on the interpretation of Championship Regulation 3.1(a).

The regulation in question includes the process for determining the position of clubs in Stage 2 of the Competition (Play-Off Stage) who have an equal number of competition points.

London Scottish’s interpretation of regulation 3.1(a) is that matches won in Stage 1 of the RFU Championship are included throughout Stage 2. Therefore, should the club lose to Esher Rugby by a margin of eight points or more on Saturday (with Esher collecting a bonus point for scoring four or more tries) London Scottish would avoid relegation due to the greater number of matches won in Stage 1.

The Organising Committee (OC), comprising Peter Baines (Chairman of the RFU Governance Standing Committee), Rob Andrew (RFU Professional Rugby Director) and Chris Burns (Competitions Manager) met on Wednesday and considered London Scottish’s request at length. The OC concluded that when determining any position in Stage 2 of the RFU Championship, in the event of equality of competition points, only the number of wins in Stage 2 should be taken into account rather than wins achieved in both Stages 1 and 2 of the RFU Championship competition.

The rationale for the decision is as follows:

  • The regulation in question reads: “In the case of equality of competition points at any stage of the Season, positions at that stage of the season shall be determined firstly by the number of wins achieved and then on the basis of match points differential.” The presence of the wording “at that stage” in the regulation would not have been included and would not have been necessary if positioning at Stage 2 was to take into account all wins during the Competition.
  • Stage 1 wins are credited to Clubs in the form of competition points in the initial Pool C standings at the commencement of Stage 2, meaning that London Scottish started Stage 2 with 6 points and Esher with 4 points (i.e. 1 competition point per Stage 1 win). Therefore, should number of wins be credited again in Stage 2, this would duplicate the benefit.
  • Stage 2 of the Championship competition is a standalone part of the competition that is separate from Stage 1. This is commonly accepted to be the case with all play off stages of competitions (in rugby and other sports).
  • Championship Regulation 3.1(a) needs to be interpreted against the backdrop of the accepted custom and practice. All RFU tables (regardless of the competition) display all differentials that are relevant and taken into account when determining clubs’ positions in the tables. This is done for the purposes of transparency so that anyone (clubs, media, public etc.) can clearly see and calculate their position. If it was intended by the RFU and accepted by Clubs that wins and points differentials from Stage 1 would be taken into account when determining positions at Stage 2, the Championship Stage 2 tables would have reflected these differentials, in the same way that the table reflects all the other relevant differentials applicable in respect of each competition. Such would have been the case for the three seasons of the Championship and for all three Pools in Stage 2.

London Scottish has the right to appeal. Should London Scottish lose by eight points or more and Esher secure a bonus point win, the final standings of Pool C will not be confirmed until after any appeal hearing.