‘Nobody wants another London Welsh script’: Richards on promoting Ealing


Dean Richards, who guided Harlequins and Newcastle to promotion to the Gallagher Premiership, believes Ealing Trailfinders Championship winners must meet entry criteria to be allowed into the top flight to ensure English rugby never suffers a another Welsh debacle in London.

The Welsh were unprepared on and off the pitch for the demands of the Premiership, lost all 18 matches, were relegated in 2015 and liquidators were appointed in December 2016. A month later it was announced that the Welsh had been withdrawn from the Championship and their results struck out. The professional section of the club disappeared, forcing the Welsh to revert to an amateur operation that showed real fighting qualities to make up for lost ground as they climbed back up the English ladder.

The Trailfinders have appealed the decision that they do not meet the entry criteria to become the Premiership’s 14th team next season and a decision is expected by the end of the month. Simon Orange, co-owner of Sale Sharks, backed Trailfinders’ bid on social media, saying: “We need to do everything we can to allow them to show up. If that means changing the rules or giving them time to meet the minimum standards, then so be it!!! »

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The minimum standards criteria required by the Rugby Football Union include that a promoted club’s stadium must accommodate a minimum of 10,001 supporters. In their statement, the RFU said: ‘Ealing Trailfinders currently has no licensed capacity, but the ground holds around 5,000 with 2,115 seats.

Richards hailed the success of the Trailfinders Championship title, but takes a pragmatic view and said Rugby Pass; “Winning the championship is not as easy as people think. It’s a tough decision to finish top and you have to be a good team, but there are reasons why there are minimum criteria (for the promotion).

“It’s not just stadia based and it’s about academies and everything else and once all of that is satisfied I would be more than happy to see Ealing move up to the Premiership. I believe the Criteria are important and no one wants another London Welsh scenario where one team shows up and then the following season defaults and is nowhere to be found.

“You need to have the right infrastructure in place, an academy program as well as a first team. You also need to be sure that the club will stay there for a bit longer than one season.

“London Welsh didn’t have a team or structure in place and weren’t financially strong enough to keep losing every game. They had huge history in the game and the effect of throwing it all in that one season meant that broke the club.


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