English Rugby
London Welsh plight reaches parliament
ESPN Staff
May 25, 2012

London Welsh's quest to overturn a Rugby Football Union decision to deny them promotion to the Aviva Premiership should they win the Championship final has been raised in the House of Commons.

Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West, urged the RFU to re-think their decision by tabling an Early Day Motion yesterday with the aim of attracting enough support to trigger a debate in parliament. The Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesday - a matter of hours before London Welsh's play-off final first leg against Cornish Pirates - that the Exiles had failed to meet the minimum standards criteria for the Premiership and therefore would not be promoted should they claim the Championship title.

London Welsh look set to appeal this decision and Thomas has moved to bring the matter to the attention of parliament - although it is highly unlikely that it will be debated. His motion read: "This House condemns the decision of the Rugby Football Union to reject the possibility of London Welsh gaining promotion to and playing in the Premiership in 2012-13.

"[It] notes the huge contribution London Welsh has made to both league and international rugby throughout its history; further notes the determination of the board of London Welsh to continue to develop both the performance and commercial sides of the club; and urges the Rugby Football Union to reconsider its decision."

Thomas also queried the RFU's decision to find fault with the club's proposed groundshare at Oxford United FC's Kassam Stadium when four other teams in the Premiership already operate under similar circumstances.

Thomas attracted support from Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, who recalled the plight of Rotherham when they were refused entry to the Premiership on similar grounds in 2002. He also heavily criticised the RFU, saying: "Frankly the men in blazers and those bright pink and orange corduroy trousers who control the RFU will not give any consideration to the passion of London Welsh, its players and its supporters.

"We experienced that in Rotherham when we got into the premier league and were then booted out. We had a wonderful ground and people could get right down to the touchline to watch the rugby. It is much better than sitting up in a big stadium, but those gentlemen of a particular class are the worst administrators of any of our major games. I wish my Hon. friend well, but he ain't going to get going until they change their corduroy trousers."

In addition, David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, raised the question of the Newcastle Falcons who look set to benefit if the RFU rules that Welsh have not passed the MSC for the Premiership. He claimed that their relegation would see the game have a strong dominance in the south of England, to which Thomas responded: "I certainly hope that when Newcastle takes its place in the Championship, as I hope it will, it continues to benefit from the RFU's support and largesse so that it can have a genuine chance of winning a place back in the Premiership.

"Nevertheless, we have to allow proper promotion and relegation to take place. I do not think London Welsh has been properly treated thus far."

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