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Grade clubs living near the breadline

SOME Super Rugby players have asked struggling Sydney clubs for payments to secure their services in Shute Shield games, a review into premier rugby has found.

The ARU report on the state and future of the Sydney and Brisbane club competitions found almost all clubs were in a ''poor'' financial state and said some were sometimes asked by their returning Super Rugby players for extra cash on top of the regular match payments and win bonuses doled out to all players.

''Sometimes these requests are met but the general feedback was that Super Rugby players are usually treated in a similar way in terms of payments and benefits as all other players,'' the review stated. ''Almost all clubs'' said they would like a rule restricting what they could pay their Super Rugby athletes.

The revelation is among many contained in a 76-page report entitled ''Premier Rugby Taskforce Review'', which documents the perilous states of the Sydney and Brisbane club competitions.

In Sydney alone, two of the 12 clubs, Penrith and Gordon, are on the brink of collapse, according to the report, while the long-term viability of the others is in question.

''The taskforce considers that the poor financial state of the majority of clubs, with some at high risk of failure, places at risk not just individual clubs but the competitions they participate in,'' the report said.

It found seven Sydney clubs made financial losses in 2010, nine made losses in 2011 and seven were expected to make losses last year, totalling almost $1.3 million in combined losses over three years.

The review, conducted by the ARU using interviews with all clubs and three years' worth of financial data, also found most were severely lacking in their high-performance programs.

It paints a stark picture of proud clubs that still see themselves as nurseries for Australia's rugby talent and the country's only legitimate ''third tier'' but, for the most part, can no longer provide emerging players with rugby and fitness programs that are up to standard.

Of the 12 Sydney clubs involved in premiership rugby, only Eastern Suburbs, Northern Suburbs, Southern Districts and Sydney University were given the highest of three rankings for their high-performance programs.

Penrith and Gordon, the two clubs struggling most financially, were in the lowest band alongside Randwick, a traditionally high-performing club that has produced rugby luminaries such as Simon Poidevin, the Ella brothers and current Waratahs coaches Michael Cheika and Alan Gaffney.

Randwick's financial problems are well documented, with the club voting to sell its licensed clubhouse in Coogee late last year.

Player payments also came under scrutiny, with a picture emerging of a growing gulf between the ''haves'' and ''have-nots'' in the Sydney competition.

The review estimated one unnamed Sydney club provided tuition and accommodation scholarships worth half a million dollars to some of its players through a partnership with an academic institution.

Clubs spent an average of about $110,000 on player payments each year, a figure that excluded payments in kind and services, the review found. But it was noted that most clubs were probably underestimating their expenditure on player payments for fear of being stripped of ARU funding.

The taskforce recommended wholesale changes to the premier rugby competitions, including that clubs focus all their resources on developing first-grade and first-grade colts sides and become better integrated with the ARU-run national academy programs.

The taskforce also proposes the competition be split into two - one for first- and second-grade teams plus first-grade colts, and another for the other grades.

''For premier rugby to continue to be a pathway to elite rugby more change must be implemented,'' the report states. ''The above suggestion is just one possibility and a structure like this could meet with a fair bit of resistance from some clubs.''

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Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
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NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
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ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
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WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
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Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
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