London Welsh 29-20 Cornish Pirates, RFU Championship final
London Welsh to launch appeal
May 31, 2012
London Welsh coach Lyn Jones, chairman Bleddyn Phillips and captain Jon Mills © Getty Images
London Welsh have confirmed that they will appeal the Rugby Football Union's decision to block their entry to the Aviva Premiership.
The Exiles wrapped up the second tier title with a 29-20 victory over Cornish Pirates at the Kassam Stadium on Wednesday night having taken control of the contest with a comprehensive 37-21 victory in their first leg clash. But their hopes of stepping up were dealt a major blow last week when their application to join the country's elite was rejected by the Professional Game Board - a decision later approved by the RFU.
Club officials have previously vowed to fight the ruling, based largely on the 'primacy of tenure' requirement in the all-important minimum standards criteria, and with the Championship silverware now secured, they have confirmed that they will appeal the PGB's decision and attempt to realise their dream of playing Premiership rugby in the Kassam Stadium - the home of Oxford United FC.
Club chairman Bleddyn Phillips said: "We shall be lodging an appeal in the very near future and in parallel we are pursuing all other available opportunities to make sure we can take our rightful and deserved place in the Aviva Premiership."
London Welsh managing director John Taylor also believes whatever the outcome of the Exiles' appeal - the relationship between the Premiership and the Championship has reached "tipping point".
"I think whatever happens things will never be the same," he said. "Everybody knows that if the RFU want a second tier of professional rugby they have to be seen to support it. This is their Championship, they created it, they are the ones who stepped it up a notch to try and turn it into a fully professional league rather than part-time professional.
"The feeling is that even if we were to be in a situation at the end of it for whatever reason we didn't win this appeal, and we are going to fight it very, very hard, things will never be the same again. They will not be prepared to go through this again at the end of next season. I don't think the message is that the Championship will not be a stepping stone to the Championship, it will be the absolute tipping point, and the whole thing will become much more integrated after this."
Like Taylor, club chairman Phillips is hopeful that the matter can be resolved successfully without going to court but it remains an option. "In an ideal world we would hope still that these things can be kept out of court but obviously we are not going to prejudice it by not appealing - that's for sure," said Phillips. "We're always hopeful that the spirit of the game and the way it is played on the pitch prevails and we can keep this out of the courts and conduct the appeal within the sporting arena."
Both Taylor and Phillips are calling for a swift resolution with Taylor saying: "It is absolutely imperative. It's only three months to the start of next season so the thought of court proceedings and the like for all of us is a route we do not want to go down but that is not to say that we will back off. Because we won't."
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