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This article the first of two pieces by the author on the new Regulations. The second piece, available here , moves on to examine the Regulations in context by looking at their practical operation, including what happens on suspicion of a breach, the disciplinary process and the sanctions that may be applied.
Readers who are completely new to the topic are advised to first read this article 3 by the author, which explains the introductory essentials of the Salary Cap.
Context and background to the Salary Cap It is an interesting time for rugby union in England. Whilst in so many ways the domestic game goes from strength to strength, there has been much discussion about financial control within the game.
Whilst a detailed analysis of the financial problems in the sport is for another day, it provides important context before turning to consider the operation of the Salary Cap in the sport.
Indeed, The Times 4 reported in September that at least a third of Premiership Clubs are either for sale or seeking substantial investment. An increase in wages and an increased cap cannot, surely, be unconnected?
For more on the growing influence of OTT digital players, please see this article 6. It has to be financially sustainable.
Logic also dictates that if players are paid more, then less players can be contracted within the cap, meaning smaller squads to take on the seemingly ever increasing physical demands of professional rugby and the well documented injury and concussion issues, which fact itself has to be considered, in the context of the English Premiership, when compared to leagues such as the Pro 14, with the management of players and the game time undertaken by each individual across the season.
The principal changes to the published Regulations have however all been well communicated see here and here A copy of the Regulations for the season which the author refers to as the published Regulations are available here.
This is especially so in the context of the framework through to the season having been announced as long ago as September , no doubt with one eye on stability in the Regulations in the lead up to the next World Cup.
The statement emphasised that the overrun was not deliberate but appears to have resulted as a consequence of adjustments made by the auditors and stresses the overrun was not a breach of the regulations.
Furthermore, strict observance of the Salary Cap will inevitably be eroded. It must be said, given the structure of European competition it is highly unlikely an International Qualified Player would be unavailable for the European games other, perhaps, than in the event of a re-arranged fixture , but this could be a valuable credit for Premiership games.
Put another way there is a cap on the credit available for any one individual Player.
The complications of the credits do not, however, end there. Injury dispensation — finally it remains the case that a Club can claim injury dispensations pursuant to Regulation 5. Although Regulation 5 is primarily worded in the singular, referring to a Senior Player who is injured and a replacement in the singular, Regulation 5.
The replacement player will then be permitted to remain with the Club for the rest of that season. Whilst compliance with Regulations 5. It is important that Regulation 5.
However, the use of this figure is problematic. On any view, however, in isolation, the figure makes little sense.
If it is just a reference to the Senior Ceiling, then it adds nothing to Regulation 5. It would also appear to be potentially inequitable as between the Clubs. It would appear some tidying up of the wording in the Regulations in respect of Injury Dispensations is required, if only to provide clarification.
Previously, if a Club deliberately or recklessly submitted false salary information, that could lead to sanction.
There have also been some important changes to the sanctions that may be applied in the event of breach. The potential for point deductions has also been reduced.
Now the maximum point deduction is 35 points and exceeding the Senior Ceiling by a sum within the overrun tax provisions will not result in a point deduction, that being consistent with the line that such an overrun is not to be treated as a breach of the Regulations.
Considered in totality, the above changes and indeed the other minor changes not specifically mentioned since the last occasion I reviewed the Regulations are significant.
They show a desirable continual engagement by Premiership Rugby in the promulgation and development of the Salary Cap. Whilst it might be said that this means the transparency of the Cap has been blurred, it seems to me that is a price that has to be paid in view of the need to ensure that appropriate incentives and accommodations are made not only for Clubs that regularly have Players playing for England or their nation but also for Clubs that are nurturing home grown and potential talent for England.
Has a more equitable sanctioning regime been introduced if that is not an oxymoron? Well, given the financial plight of the Premiership Clubs, perhaps.
As is highlighted in this article confusion can, and does, arise as a consequence. Views