As the last man to guide a club across rugby’s Rubicon, Cecil Duckworth has a rather more holistic outlook on the professional game than many of his Premiership counterparts.
To the Leicesters and Gloucesters of the world, the Championship is a cross between the naughty step and a winter camp where you send Billy Twelvetrees or Adam Balding to keep them amused for a week or two.
Indeed the shrill din with which they responded to the division’s creation, spoke volumes about their attitude towards anything that doesn’t bear the Guinness branding.
And the unloved bastard child that is the Championship certainly doesn’t bear the Guinness branding, or any other for that matter.
The notion that their Thirteenth Man, as some call him seemingly unaware of the patronising nature of the phrase, should have to do anything other than take his parachute payment, whack a few part-timers and then return as if he’d never been away, was as deeply as most PRL outfits thought.
However, Duckworth has been there, bought a couple of hundred T-shirts, filled them with players as varied as Ben Clarke and Nnandi Ezulike and has seen life on both sides of the divide that separates the Haves from the Have Bugger Alls.
So in repeating his call for the top flight to be expanded to 14 teams, the Worcester chairman has more than self-interest as his motivation.
This is not a new idea, Duckworth first floated the suggestion more than a year ago but since then the recession has changed the financial reality in which rugby exists.
Faced with reduced revenues PRL have pondered several means by which to make up the shortfall, most bizarrely a complicated formula to introduce more league matches to the season that was mercifully thrown out by the governing body.
And now it seems the concept of expansion might be back on the table – it certainly would if Duckworth had his way.
To paraphrase his thoughts, Duckworth would like to see Exeter and Bristol brought into the brotherhood and a two or three-year moratorium on promotion and relegation.
After that, a debate about the next step but he is unequivocal that ring-fencing should never be allowed. “I don’t think there will ever be permanency but there would be a mechanism to enter,” is his thought.
“When we last looked at it about a year ago, on balance it was felt that was not the way forward,” Duckworth said.
“There is a change of mood now because there is a recession on that is not going to go away in two minutes.”
However, it would be wrong to suggest there is no concern for the Thirteenth Man, in this case Bristol.
Indeed the collective worry is heightened by the introduction of play-offs at level two which means Paul Hull’s men could finish the regular season 25 points clear at the top and still not go up.
The way things have worked out so far this season, that’s unlikely to happen. Exeter have stolen a march on their West Country rivals and it is the Chiefs who enjoy a two game advantage at the summit.
Duckworth laments, though, it is not one they can relish or imbue with any meaning. To be sure of promotion Exeter must win a two-leg play off final in May.
“It was a tough league when we were in it, we were battling with Leeds or Rotherham and there was always a banana skin because everyone wanted to beat Worcester. We were five years in National One.
“If there were no play-offs Exeter may start to recruit now,” he added.
“They can’t do that at the moment so it’s tough.”
As things stand only Bristol and Exeter have publicly declared their readiness for assent into the Premiership.
In short they are the only contenders for Duckworth’s scheme.
But, he insists, they would not be the only two beneficiaries and said: “You would be dividing your pot between 14 clubs and not 13 with a parachute.
“But you would find that you could reduce the cost of your squad and develop your players. There are a lot of good players on the fringe of things and you don’t try them because the director of rugby will go for the more mature player.
“Some get frustrated and give the game up. Given the light and the opportunity someone’s career can take off.
“That’s happened to a number of players. Will Skinner at Harlequins, for example. He was virtually giving up rugby because he couldn’t make it at Leicester. Dean Richards knew him, took him to Harlequins, made him captain and now he’s a bloody good player.
“You wonder if there are a few more like that.”
Indeed, Duckworth maintains there would even be an advantage to those left temporarily on the outside looking in.
“If it comes in they would all go a little bit mad but if they had a three-year period to consolidate a real strategy and make a five-year plan of being in the Premiership it might work for them too,” he said.
“I honestly think it’s worth a try because we are stuck in a rut at the moment. For the benefit of rugby I still think it’s worth the experiment.”