Scottish Rugby bosses believe their new league set-up for next season, required following the abandonment of the semi-professional Super Series league, causes the least disruption to the existing structure.  

In next season’s Premiership, Super Series franchisees Ayr and Heriot's will be joined by Watsonians and Melrose, whose club XVs had been in National 1 but are promoted following the scrapping of the Super Series.  

Stirling County, who won the semi-pro championship last season as Stirling Wolves, will compete in National League Division One, alongside another Super Series franchisee Boroughmuir. 

Meanwhile, National Leagues 2 and 3 will become nine-team divisions for next season.  

The new structure was determined at a meeting of the Club Rugby Board (CRB) on Wednesday evening.  

Keith Wallace, who chairs that group and is vice-president of the Scottish Rugby Union, said he believes this is the best outcome.  

He said: “I think people realise there wasn’t a clear winner in the consultation so we came to this process. 

“We’re never going to please all of the people all of the time. More difficult would have been if there was a clear winner from the consultation process that we didn’t like.  

“I’m pretty confident that this is the best overall solution, and we reached that through a very thorough process of elimination. 

“There will be people not so happy and we just have to work through that. For example, we need to go back to National Two and National Three and discuss how we resolve the challenges of nine team leagues.”  

One of the options on the table was to promote all six Super Series franchise clubs into the Premiership, and keep them with this season’s top four, while demoting the other six teams.  

Gav Scott, Scottish Rugby’s director of rugby development, said that was the first option ruled out by the clubs during the consultation process.  

Scott said: "That included the view of the Super Series clubs.  

“Everybody felt we had to try to be as fair as possible and we know there are different degrees of fairness and you can manipulate it different ways to suit your means, but the thing we tried to do with every single option – and that was the only option which was different – was that nobody who has been promoted or relegated in this season we are in right now does that change for next season. 

“Within that option, you are immediately relegating six teams out the Premiership who did not go into that fight at the start of the season. 

“So, it was really just felt that it was the one which was patently unfair to those teams in particular, so it was really disregarded by everyone on those grounds.” 

Scott also confirmed none of the money that had previously been allocated towards Super Series would be used to help fund the club game.  

Scotland Rugby News: No money from the Super Series will be used to help the club gameNo money from the Super Series will be used to help the club game (Image: SNS)

Instead, it will go towards the new-look professional set-up, which will see the introduction of ‘A’ team games for Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors, as well as the return of Scotland ‘A’ and larger academies.  

Scott said: “I think there will be learning from Super Series which we can take into the Premiership in terms of how we market and promote the tournament.  

“We’ve also spoken to a number of clubs who have been the super Series experience who want to support the game to understand how they benefitted from that semi-professional league.  

“They felt they learned things every week about how to be a better rugby club.  

“I think there are learnings we can take from it, but in terms of direct spend, that will go to other bits of the performance pathway.” 

Another long-discussed issue that reared its head during Thursday’s briefing to the media was that the CRB will again review whether Premiership players should be paid.  

Wallace said discussions around this were at an early stage.  

Scotland Rugby News: SRU Vice President Keith WallaceSRU Vice President Keith Wallace (Image: SNS)

He said: “Across the piece it felt like it was the right time to do it. It was too quick to make that decision last night because it only arose in meetings in the last week or two so we said it will be reviewed going forward.” 

Wallace said that decision may be a knock-on impact to players returning to the amateur game having been part of Super Series.  

He added: “We’ve also got to think about the impact of young players who have been paid in the Super Six recently and how it’s going to affect their lifestyles in the short term.” 

Wallace believes the club game still has a key role to play in developing the talent of the future, and said there is a “genuine desire” from the professional teams to be more closely aligned with the grassroots game.  

He said: “If it works out, we will see our best players aged between 18-20 going up into the pro ranks, if they are good enough. 

“That should be good for the club game as well. There’s one or two clubs in our focus group for the pathway proposal who were very excited about the prospect of some club guys – late developers – playing for Edinburgh ‘A’ or Glasgow ‘A’.” 

However that is likely to be met with some raised eyebrows from across the club game.  

Nevertheless, Wallace was pleased to have the new structure confirmed well ahead of the new season starting.  

He added: “I am delighted with the process, and I am delighted we have got a positive outcome that we can now move on, because we had to make a decision to meet the timescales. 

“Gavin and his team will now work over the coming weeks to get the season set up properly.”