Everything you need to know about the loaning of players between clubs at different levels

Ever wondered how the loan system works in the Gallagher Premiership? Here’s everything you need to know.

Clubs are allowed a maximum of three loan players in a match-day squad. However there is no ceiling on the number of loan players in their wider squad so with an eye on player rotation over the course of a season, clubs can cast their net more widely.

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What are the advantages of signing loan players?

Financial. Depending on the deal, clubs can end up splitting the wages of the player involved so it can work out cheaper than signing the player outright so, for the same outlay, clubs can build a higher-quality squad than they might otherwise have been able to.

What are the disadvantages of signing loan players?

Instability. Loan signings can affect squad cohesion particularly if they arrive mid-season. In some cases, the terms of the deal will also enable them to be recalled by parent clubs to fill gaps in their squad that open up.

Can loan players play against their parent clubs?

Yes – unless the teams involved insert a specific clause in their deal restricting them from turning out against the parent club.

How often is the loan system used at present between Premiership clubs?

Rarely. Clubs can be reluctant because of the risk of strengthening opponents. It tends to be used as an emergency cover option when a club has an injury crisis in a certain position. Harlequins signed Gloucester’s Arthur Clark on a short-term loan in January when they were down on second row numbers after injuries to Stephan Lewies and Dino Lamb.

What about between Premiership clubs and lower down the leagues?

More regularly. If players are not seeing sufficient game time at their parent club, loaning them to the Championship or below can be a good way of keeping them match-fit and motivated as they are almost certain to play at lower levels. It is seen as a positive way for young players to gain experience.

Are players ever loaned from the Championship to the Premiership?

Saracens farmed out players to Premiership clubs and further afield to give them top-tier rugby for a season in 2020-21 after they were relegated to the Championship for financial breaches.

Ben Earl and Max Malins went to Bristol and Nick Isiekwe to Northampton, Alex Goode was loaned to Japanese club NEC Green Rockets and Alex Lozowski to Montpellier while Nick Tompkins went to the Dragons. He was recalled after 14 appearances for the Welsh region to enable him to play for Sarries in the Championship promotion run-in.

Hooker Jack Singleton stayed at Gloucester at the end of his loan.

Could the RFU’s new hybrid contract system see England players loaned out away from their parent club by Steve Borthwick?

No. While next season’s enhanced deals for 25 top players, which will see club contracts supplemented by fixed fees of around £150,000 per man by the RFU, will give the England head coach more control it will only be in areas such as conditioning and not where they play their Premiership rugby.

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