England Rugby Ltd agree Elite Player Squad programme through to 2007 Rugby World Cup
21 June 2004 12:14pm
England Rugby Ltd has reached an agreement for the implementation of the Elite Player Squad (EPS) Programme, which will come into immediate effect. The agreement runs from the 2003/04 season to 31st October 2007. <br /> <br />The EPS programme will be centrally managed by the RFU Performance Director, Chris Spice, on behalf of ERL, working in association with Phil Winstanley, Rugby Manager of Premier Rugby.<br /> <br /><strong>Elite Player Support</strong><br /> <br />The 60 EPS players, who will be announced at the start of each season, will have an individually agreed playing, training and rest programme. The programmes will be agreed between the England coaches, led by Clive Woodward, and the Zurich Premiership Directors of Rugby. The annual plans will be completed by 1st September each year and updated in January and April of the same season.<br /> <br /><strong>EPS Training Days</strong><br /> <br />An agreement has been reached that there will be 16 EPS training days in seasons 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07 in addition to the normal release weeks prior to international matches. The England Head Coach will also have access to EPS players throughout the summer directly prior to the RWC 2007. The majority of the training days will take place prior to the autumn internationals and the RBS Six Nations Championship. The England Head Coach will determine the training days by 1st August of each year of the agreement.<br /> <br /><strong>Match Limits</strong><br /> <br />Each EPS player will play no more than 32 'full matches' for his club and country in any one year starting from 1st August. <br /> <br />The RFU Performance Director will have the ability to grant dispensation for players to exceed the 32 'full matches' total, in order to retain the credibility of all competitions.<br /> <br /><strong>11 week preparation for the season</strong><br /> <br />There will be an off season of 11 weeks for each EPS player, which will take effect from the end of the players' last game of the season and will be managed by the Performance Director. The Performance Director will have the discretion to vary the 11 week rest period if he is satisfied that the player does not require the full 11 week rest period due to his lack of match exposure in the previous EPS season. <br /> <br /><strong>International weeks</strong><br /> <br />In future, squads will be announced 10 days before an international with squads restricted to 30 players. A party of up to 37 players will be available for summer tours. A senior tour will not take place in a Lions year, although an England XV will travel to Canada for the Churchill Cup. Squad announcements before a summer tour will be made 14 days prior to departure. Players not required for a test match must be released by 7.00pm on the Tuesday before a Friday or Saturday game and 7.00pm on Wednesday if the match is being played on a Sunday.<br /> <br /><strong>England Compensation Scheme</strong><br /> <br />In addition to the EPS programme, an England compensation scheme has been put in place to support clubs that provide EPS and National Academy players. A £2m compensation fund will be established for Zurich Premiership clubs by the PRL contributing £1m from existing resources and the RFU contributing £1m.<br /> <br />Clubs will receive £30k per annum for each player they provide for the EPS (senior squad, national academy or sevens) and £10k for each identified national academy player (intermediate or junior) on a full time contract.<br /> <br />A review of the EPS document will be undertaken by the RFU Performance Director and the Premier Rugby Ltd Rugby Manager by July 1st of each year of the agreement.<br /> <br />Graeme Cattermole, Chairman of the RFU Management Board said: "I'd like to thank everyone involved in this process for putting together the agreement. It is an all embracing one to include not only the EPS and England Qualified Players schemes but also the structure of the fixture list for next season and the requirements of the British Lions." <br /> <br />"In particular, I would like to thank Dave Thompson, Chairman of Newcastle Falcons and Charles Jillings, Chairman of Premier Rugby Ltd and NEC Harlequins, for their significant contribution during the past couple of weeks, which ensured that a satisfactory conclusion was achieved for all stakeholders." <br /> <br />"The agreement will ensure that England, at a number of levels, remain a viable force in the world game over the next three years. Agreement has taken longer than anticipated but that was inevitable as it is important to sign off a document which all parties have endorsed and contributed to. I'd also like to thank the working party who first worked on the EPS and EQP proposals whose input was invaluable."<br /> <br />Charles Jillings, Chairman of Premier Rugby and NEC Harlequins said: "Premier Rugby remains committed to ensuring England have the best chance to consolidate their position at the top of the international game." <br /> <br />"This agreement allows us to achieve this and to ensure that the Zurich Premiership and professional club rugby continues to build on the great progress made on and off the pitch in recent seasons."<br /> <br />RFU Chief Executive, Francis Baron said: "This agreement is good news for England Rugby and all England supporters. It provides Clive and his management team with an agreed framework through to the next Rugby World Cup in 2007 to prepare for our defence of the Webb Ellis trophy."
"The support and positive dialogue with the Zurich Premiership clubs has been very much appreciated and we look forward to working with them on the development of the EPS players over the next three seasons."
RFU Performance Director, Chris Spice said: "The EPS programme delivered optimum performance for the 2003 RWC and this four year extension is intended to lay the foundation for a successful defence of the RWC in 2007."
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.