WRU announce new Super Rygbi Cymru competition as format, salary cap and player allocation explained

Llandovery's Tiaan Sparrow, Adam Warren and Euros Evans at the announcement of Super Rugby Cymru -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency
Llandovery's Tiaan Sparrow, Adam Warren and Euros Evans at the announcement of Super Rugby Cymru -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency

The Welsh Rugby Union have confirmed the details of their new tournament, Super Rygbi Cymru.

Last year, the Union confirmed that a new 10-team elite competition would take the place of the Indigo Premiership - moving out of the community game in Wales to work with the four professional teams to develop young players.

And now, following the culmination of the final Premiership season in its current guise, the WRU have confirmed the details ahead of the biggest structural shake-up in Welsh rugby for over 20 years.

Not since the formation of regional rugby in 2003 has the game in this country seen changes this big.

As well as the name being confirmed - with the tournament having been referred to as Elite Domestic Competition until now - the full fixtures have been released for next season, which kicks off in September. You can view the full fixture list here.

Three trophies to play for

The competition will be played in three blocks. The first starts in September and runs through to late October, finishing ahead of the autumn internationals. The second block then runs from late November through to January.

The final block - as well as the post-season matches - will start in late March and go through to the middle of May. The play-offs themselves will consist of Wild Card finals - which will see seventh play 10th and eighth play ninth.

The winners of those matches will take part in the quarter-finals, with the rest of the play-offs following a regular format from there.

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The WRU have also announced the introduction of the 'SRC Challenger Shield'. Similar to New Zealand's Ranfurly Shield, the holder of the shield will have to defend it in every home game of the regular league season. If the holders are beaten at home in the regular season, the team who defeated them assumes possession of the shield and then has to defend it in their own home games.

Llandovery, having been unbeaten in 15 league and cup matches last year, will go into the 2024/25 season as the holders - with an 18-match home winning streak going back to March 2023.

The Challenger Shield will be one of three pieces of silverware up for grabs next year, alongside the Super Rygbi Cymru Trophy and the Super Rygbi Cymru Cup.

The Super Rygbi Cup will be introduced during the Six Nations, with four rounds of fixtures and a final. The format will be two pools of five clubs, with each club playing two home and away matches.

The winner of each pool will then meet in the final.

Salary cap and allocation of players

The 10 clubs have all signed up to a ‘salary cap’ system that will enable them to spend up to £150,000 on a squad of 32 players. There is salary cap relief and there are exemptions for recently released regional players (at U18 and from a Senior Academy), dual contracted players and injuries.

The WRU will be providing £105,000 to each club, who in return not only have to commit to match-funding that sum each season, but are also required to meet a set of minimum operating expectations in the running of both the club and their SRC rugby team.

The Union have confirmed that the regions are already underway in allocating their Academy players to their Affiliate clubs for next season. The allocation is based on factors such as where a player is from, where he played his junior rugby, his specific needs and opportunities.

“The buy in from all the clubs has been fantastic and we’ve had many good meetings in the build-up to this launch, which we deliberately delayed to allow the final season of the Indigo Premiership to reach its conclusion,” said WRU Head of Player Development, John Alder. "The regional clubs are all on board and the new structure should raise standards all round.

“We’ve tried to be creative in our thinking about the design of the competition while keeping it aligned to the professional game calendar. We want to ensure there is lots to play for, plenty of jeopardy, there are exciting local derbies, and each club will have at least 11 home games over the course of the season.

“We want Super Rygbi Cymru to be a breeding ground and finishing school for ambitious players to ultimately push them through into the regional clubs, the URC, and on to Wales.

“We’re excited to now see the start line of this new competition. Our goal has always been to provide better playing opportunities for current Academy and Wales Pathway players, as well as providing a vital alternative route into the professional game for players either released by the regional clubs, or those who develop later.

“We believe we have created the framework for an exciting and intense competition for both young and experienced players, clubs, and fans alike – and all though a new collaborative system between the regional clubs and their affiliate clubs.

“One of the exciting features will be seeing the seasoned semi-pro players who have operated to such a high standard over the past season playing alongside some of our most exciting talent. The link between the former Scarlets, Dragons and Wales centre Adam Warren and Wales U20 prospect Macs Page at Llandovery has been a classic example of how the younger players can learn from those who have been there and done it all.

“Alex Mann, Mackenzie Martin, and Lucas de la Rua have all benefitted from playing alongside Morgan Allen in the Cardiff back row, while Wales U20 caps Dylan Keller-Griffiths and Sam Scarfe have developed nicely in the Pontypool front row in recent seasons.

“Joe Westwood and Harri Ackerman have come through the ranks at Newport to make their Dragons debuts, while Dan Edwards and Morgan Morse both played for Swansea before clinching long-term deals at the Ospreys – and our goal is to make it even more intense, competitive, professional and aspirational over the next few years.”