Newcastle Falcons new boy Darren Barry believes short-term thinking caused by the current system of promotion and relegation is hindering youth development.
Lock forward Barry, who joins from Worcester, has vast experience of the ring-fencing debate from previous stints in the Championship at Bristol and Cornish Pirates.
However he believes a moratorium is needed to smash the cycle of fear which makes Premiership sides recruit heavily from overseas.
With newly-promoted London Irish breaking the bank on foreign stars, Barry, 29, told The Rugby Paper: “Realistically, how many sides from the Championship can go up? Newcastle, certainly. And then Ealing, who are potentially ready financially to make a push. But beyond that there’s no one else – yet.
“So they should be looking at something where for a period of time promotion and relegation is stopped and it gives teams like Newcastle, Worcester and London Irish – your traditional sides who are fighting towards the bottom of the Premiership – time to invest in their squads and give their youth a chance.
“It also gives the Championship clubs the chance to do the same. Rather than risking another London Welsh, teams like Ealing, Cornish Pirates can build their stadiums, develop their infrastructure and academies with the proviso that in three to five years there could be promotion and relegation, or even expansion, and that they’d be ready to go up.”
Barry added: “I would close the Premiership off for three years, just to tighten everything up in the Premiership top to bottom, and it would be good for young academy players because they don’t have the risk of being relegated if things don’t go well for them.
“Whatever anybody might say, the pressure at the bottom is intense and you tend to see in recruitment that teams go for big names or safer, more experienced options because they know they need to stay in the Premiership as a minimum requirement.
“What you want to see, though, are more examples like Ted Hill, who’s come through at Worcester and made a big impact in the Premiership. He’s done it anyway, but there would be even more of them if you had a moratorium on promotion and relegation. It would just give teams a chance to build from within, rather than always having to look outside.”
Barry has no truck with a permanent ring-fence, though, explaining: “You’d want to see teams like my old club Cornish Pirates getting a chance and I’d love to see them promoted.
“As a county it’s built for Premiership rugby and it would be a huge thing down there.
“They deserve it and they have coaches in Chris Stirling, Gavin Cattle and Alan Paver who could be around to deliver it, but it needs to be phased. In two years, they’ll have a stadium; then they can develop the infrastructure and start to keep hold of the Cornish talent they have; and then in years four or five they can really go for it and be ready for it.
“It just needs the people looking at these things to make sensible decisions that will enable Championship clubs to realise their ambitions in a sustainable way, while at the same time allowing the Premiership clubs to develop their younger players.” Barry says promotion for Newcastle next season is a must.
He added: “If you’re joining a team like Falcons and they’re in the Championship, it’s non-negotiable that we’re aiming to get back up. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s great to make a fresh start after leaving Worcester and I’ll be trying to make an impact.”
NEALE HARVEY / Photo: Getty Images