TALKS to concentrate the top level of Scottish domestic club rugby into a smaller, more competitive league are still taking place but have yet to reach agreement, the SRU director of rugby, Scott Johnson, has admitted.

"The [BT Premiership] clubs are the next step, we are talking to them, we have a good relationship with them – not always perfect, we understand that, but they are an integral part of it," he said.

"I don't know if you are ever going to get consensus but I think there is an understanding of where we all are and the relationship is much better than when I first got here. The dialogue is good."

He was talking at the launch of the third of the Scottish Rugby academies, this one based at Broadwood stadium in Cumbernauld and covering Glasgow and the west. This season it has already sent the likes of James Malcolm up to play for Glasgow Warriors and with its new, tailored headquarters is expected to keep the flow going.

That positive, Johnson admitted, is also a problem. With more than 400 players taking part in last autumn's inter-academy tournament and around a third of them expected to graduate each year, there will have to be places for them to play. The two professional clubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh cannot take them all.

"We know that, that's why there is the partnership with London Scottish, which gives us another avenue to have a look at," he said. "We need more players coming through to be competitive at all levels so it makes selection a lot harder.

"Concentration always increases the competitive nature. One of the big things is the competitive maturity of our players. Our boys, to a large extent, have not been chronologically young, compared to other people, but what they have lacked is the experience and competition so they come through a little bit later.

"I am all for playing at a competitive level as quickly as you can. If that means everyone gets together and we create another structure, I am all for that, as long as we are getting good competition, the highest we can get."

To achieve that, there are talks among the Premiership clubs aimed at producing a smaller top flight with more semi-professional players than can be sustained by the current 10-team and mainly amateur structure.

"We have an opportunity to compete on the world stage," added Johnson. "It is a game where we can be really competitive in all big tournaments, and look at the way we sell out Murrayfield – it seems there is a real love for it. If the tap has not been turned on, now is an opportunity if we can get it set up right. This is a great chance to spread our tentacles. It is the one team sport we can be competitive on a regular basis."