Vickery backing expansion
Phil Vickery is behind the idea of having an expanded Guinness Premiership - but believes promotion and relegation should stay.
By Rachel Griffiths
Last Updated: 27/04/10 5:54pm
England veteran supports idea of 14-team Premiership
Phil Vickery is behind the idea of having an expanded 14-team Guinness Premiership - but believes promotion and relegation should stay.
Veteran Vickery says the issue of having too many meaningless matches cluttering up the season could be solved with an extended league campaign.
Premier Rugby revealed over the weekend they are in discussions regarding the prospect of expanding the Premiership from 12 to 14 clubs.
And Wasps and England player Vickery, who originates from Cornwall, supports the idea of a team like Exeter being able to establish a Premiership presence in the south-west.
"I would like to see a few more teams come up. Growing up in the south-west, an hour away from Exeter, if Jonny Wilkinson or Danny Cipriani was coming to play at Exeter you would be there like a shot," said Vickery.
"It is crying out for that kind of thing. I think it would be great. There is always trade-off. Do you cap it? Do you stop the opportunity of a club living the dream and getting into the Premiership?
"I am in favour of getting Exeter up and Worcester back and getting more teams in the Premiership but I don't want to get rid of relegation."
The Rugby Football Union have rubbished speculation that promotion and relegation will be disposed of, issuing a firm reminder that it is included in their agreement with the Premiership until 2016.
One dispute with expanding the season in its current format is the added demands on players and clubs' resources that would be caused by cramming more fixtures into an already packed calendar.
It has been reported that Premier Rugby would consider axing the LV= Cup, and Vickery has implied he would prefer more league matches at the expense of the Anglo-Welsh competition.
"Without wanting to cause too much controversy, there are quite a lot of games throughout the season which don't actually mean anything," said Vickery.
"I am sure there is a way of incorporating some meaningful rugby into the season."
Vickery, who has recently recovered from the fourth neck operation of his career, says his current focus is on Wasps, but insists his desire to play for England is as strong as ever ahead of the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand.
"I am 70 minutes back from having pretty major surgery and ending the season on a high with Wasps is all I have thought about - but I am never not available for England," said Vickery.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't have the hunger to do that. If I get to go away with England then fantastic. If not then it isn't the end of the world. I am still enjoying it here and if someone wants to make use of me, then great."