London Welsh denied promotion to English Premiership
London Welsh, one of the biggest clubs in English rugby in the 1960s and 70s, will not be promoted to the Premiership because their nominated stadium does not meet Rugby Football Union (RFU) standards.
London Welsh currently play at the ramshackle Old Deer Park in Richmond that has only one small stand and is barely good enough for championship rugby.
In order to try and comply with RFU regulations they made an agreement with Oxford United to play their home fixtures at the fourth tier soccer club’s Kassam Stadium if promoted to the Premiership.
A statement from the RFU on Wednesday said its board of directors had made the decision after considering the findings of an independent audit requested by the club to determine their eligibility for promotion.
“The independent auditors identified various failures, including not having primacy of tenure at their nominated ground,” the RFU said.
“This states that a club must demonstrate that they can host home fixtures at the time stipulated by Premiership Rugby and/or the host broadcaster.”
London Welsh’s failure to meet the Minimum Standards Criteria (MSC) is good news for Newcastle Falcons who were set to be relegated but now stay up.
A playoff in the second tier between Welsh and Cornish Pirates should have determined which of the two clubs went up but the latter never applied for promotion.
“London Welsh RFC would like to express its grave disappointment on learning of this decision coming as it does just a few hours ahead of the first leg of the club’s Championship final against the Cornish Pirates,” the club said in a statement.
“The club also notes that if promoted it would share its ground with a club from the FA (Football Association), in common with other Premiership clubs (such as London Irish, Sale, Wasps and Saracens).
“It is not clear why an exception made in the case of at least four top flight clubs (a third of the total) might not now be extended to a fifth.”
Welsh, who were formed in 1885 and who supplied seven players to a British Lions tour in 1971, have 14 days to appeal against the decision.