It’s not quite a rebellion but the Scottish Rugby Union’s AGM is going to have to discuss some revolutionary ideas at the meeting whenever it takes place.

You’ll recall last year’s AGM was split over three parts, and I am hearing that this year’s might be in two parts, but whenever it takes place the 2021 AGM is going to be more than a little bit interesting.

That’s largely because of a motion that has been put forward and which will certainly be the subject of some discussion, argument, flyting, brouhaha and general disagreement.

The motion concerns the hoary old subject of the Inter-District Championship. It has been proposed by GHA and seconded by Hawick, and I am reliably informed that it has attracted the required 10 letters in support from Full Member Clubs or Associated Bodies.

Here’s a question – why do we talk about players being capped for Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors? It’s a good tradition that dates from the days of the inter-district championship, that’s why.

Now for those of you of tender years, I suppose it needs to be explained that in those bygone days of amateurism when Noah was a bairn, Scotland had four districts – the South, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and North and Midlands in the Inter-District Championship that began in season 1953-54.

Glasgow and Edinburgh pre-dated the others and indeed played the world’s first inter-district match in November, 1872. Edinburgh won, by the way, by a goal to nil in a match played between teams of 20-a-side.

The North and Midlands Districts were actually formed before the South, in 1887 and 1889, and the South followed at the same time or soon after but didn’t play a match until 1890. There was another ‘district’, the Anglo-Scots.     

The concept of an inter-district championship with club players being ‘capped’ for their district was discussed for decades until finally the momentum to establish the tournament came after the Second World War. It was agreed that four districts would compete – Glasgow, Edinburgh, South and North. Even then there was some dispute, because North and Midlands were still separate and when North selected some Midlands players, that District complained and so North and Midlands District formally came into being from the following season.

The Anglo-Scots District joined the Championship in 1981, and became the Scottish Exiles in 1993. That district indeed won the Championship the following season.

I tell you this history to show that back then, changes took place regularly and there are many of us followers of the game in Scotland who bitterly regret that, after professionalism came along in 1995, the SRU did not follow through completely with its original plan of setting up four home-based district sides based on the amateur districts. Money, or lack of it, killed the four district project, sadly.

So this year’s AGM is being asked to look back to find a way of going forward. I’ve been sent a copy of the motion and it’s easier just to let you see it:         

“That a modernised version of the Scottish Inter-District Championship (with the inclusion of a potential Scottish Exiles squad) be reinstated from season 2022/23 onwards for senior men’s rugby.

“A consultation on the format and criteria for participation in the Inter-District Championship should be instigated by the SRU Council with the aim that the competition format be agreed by 31st January 2022. The competition format and timing should take into consideration the needs of the player development pathway and the objectives of the role currently fulfilled by Super 6.

“Resources currently directed by Scottish Rugby from the Domestic Rugby budget towards the Super 6 tournament should be reallocated to support the Scottish Inter District Championship and club rugby in order to support the player development pathway.”

In other words, end Super 6 and put the money into clubs and a new district set-up to create a player pathway to the professional game and the national side.

The published rationale for a renewed inter-district championship includes the following:   “It is part of our heritage. The first Inter-District Championship took place in 1953-54 and pre-dates New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship by over 20 years. It has substantial inherent and historical value that was and can once again be “a proving ground for rising talent.” 

The main point of the motion is explained thus: “Super 6 is aligned to 6 member clubs and creates a glass ceiling for clubs outside these 6 as there is no promotion or relegation into Super 6. This creates a monopoly within a selected tier of the domestic clubs. This undermines the pyramid structure and prevents fair competition. This poses a risk to the long-term growth of the domestic game. The Inter-District Championship is a representative competition therefore does not impinge the progress of clubs.”

Yes I know it’s the clubs v districts argument of yesteryear but it’s in another form and you won’t be surprised to learn that I think this proposal should be given serious consideration.

It should certainly make for a good debate at the AGM and in no way must it be suppressed.