LONDON WELSH are to be denied entry to the Aviva Premiership, even if they win the right to dine at English rugby’s top table by beating the Cornish Pirates.
The RFU’s Board of Directors announced this afternoon that they have accepted the findings of independent auditors in response to the Exiles’ request for scrutiny. The auditors concluded that London Welsh have failed to satisfy the Minimum Standards Criteria (MSC) as demanded by Professional Game Board (PGB). This is a joint group from the RFU, Premiership Rugby, RFU Championship clubs and the Rugby Players’ Association.
One of the failings cited by the auditors was not having Primacy of Tenure at their nominated ground. It is believed that the Exiles had hoped to host Premiership matches at the Kassam Stadium, home of Oxford United. To fulfil this criterion, a club must be able to demonstrate that it can host a home game at a time which Premiership Rugby Ltd, and the broadcaster stipulate, if required to do so.
The report indicated that there were other shortcomings but these have not been disclosed as yet. This will come as a huge blow to the Welsh who take on the Cornish Pirates this evening at the Mennaye Field in the first leg of the final, kick off 7.45pm.
The Pirates, who did not request an audit, have their own problems. Last week, councillors turned down a plan for a purpose built stadium sufficient to meet Premiership Rugby’s MSC. This decision has created speculation as to the future of the club, should it be upheld.
London Welsh have been granted 14 days to appeal, but this will effectively be reduced to seven, as the outcome of the final will not be decided until after next Wednesday’s return leg at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford. However, this is very good news for Newcastle, as the RFU have confirmed that there will be no promotion from the Championship this season.
This means that, whoever wins the final, the Falcons will remain in the Aviva Premiership for another season. And so with nothing to play for, it should still be a cracking final.