IRFU moves to end ‘pay for play’ culture in club game

New minimum criteria for All-Ireland League clubs to be introduced for 2014/15 season

The IRFU has called for an end to the ’pay for play’ culture in club rugby.

The IRFU has called for an end to the ’pay for play’ culture in club rugby.


The IRFU has called for clubs to end payments to players and will introduce a series of new regulations in a bid to stamp out the practice in the future.

The club sustainability report comes after close on two years of consultation with the clubs, where feedback showed “that a culture of ‘pay for play’ has developed in the game, which is not in the best interests of Irish rugby”.

Clubs will be required to discontinue the practice of payments for playing, including from third parties and sponsors, and discontinue transfer payments and inducements. Clubs will also have to seek formal approval before fielding a transferred player, while all player expenses must be detailed in annual club accounts.

It is proposed that from the start of the 2014/15 season that a minimum criteria for participation in the All-Ireland League will be implemented, with adjustments made to the IRFU laws and regulations . These would include a ban on payment of players other than those made by a province and those to reimburse legitimate expenses.

The report outlined the financial position of 121 clubs from the 2011/12 season, which showed a cumulative debt of €20.48 million, or just under €170,000 on average. Three clubs have debts of over €1 million, totalling €4.3 million between them.

Scott Walker, the IRFU’s director of rugby development and club game, said; “The domestic club game is the bedrock of Irish rugby and securing its future is essential. Clubs and individuals have voiced their concerns and it is accepted that steps need to be taken to ensure that two fundamentals, volunteerism and loyalty, are protected and encouraged.

“Payments to players became commonplace during our ‘boom’ years and this practice has put significant financial pressure on many clubs with resources being diverted from crucial areas. The changes introduced by this reports will protect and develop the domestic game.”