2 weeks ago
By Peter Bright
More premiership/championship players on loan to lower league clubs
Premiership clubs will have more opportunity to give their youngsters game time next season.
The RFU is changing the registration rules for academy players, meaning they can potentially play for up to four teams in four different leagues.
English Academy Players (EAPs) will be able to move between clubs at levels one (Aviva Premiership) to three (National 1), with approved movement to level four (National 2 North or South).
Crucially, they can be registered with one club in each of those tiers at the same time and there will no longer be a cap on the number of clubs a player can play for in a season.
Nigel Melville, the director of professional rugby at the RFU, said: "There’s a large pool of young players in academies who are getting great coaching, strength and conditioning but they are not getting enough competition.
"We are freeing up the movement to allow our young players to be put into environments where they can play on a regular basis and increase the level of competition time they get.
"It’s about giving them opportunity."
The number of EAPs that clubs at levels two and three will be able to select in a matchday squad is increasing.
Greene King IPA Championship clubs may select up to ten (previously six) and National 1 clubs may select as many as ten (previously a maximum of four).
The number of A League games teams will play is doubling for the coming season as the competition adopts a new format.
Once the bulk of those fixtures have been played, academy players are likely to be dual registered to get extra game time.
Melville added: "It’s good for English rugby and, in particular, our age-grade teams that our younger players are going to get regular games prior to playing in a Six Nations or U20 World Championship.
"It means players are playing every week and will have a programme for the year and will not be struggling to find games.
A change has also been made to the rules relating to loan players.
Players loaned from/to the Premiership and Championship will be able to move freely between clubs any number of times up until a transfer deadline, with some caveats.
Updated 19:47 - 2 Aug 2017 by Peter Bright