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RUGBY: London Welsh fight on over Kassam ground-share
5:17pm Wednesday 23rd May 2012 in Rugby
LONDON Welsh have not given up their hopes of bringing Premiership rugby to the Kassam Stadium despite being told they were ineligible for promotion today.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU)’s board of directors ratified an audit which found the Exiles did not meet the minimum standards criteria for top-flight rugby.
It came as a huge blow to the club, just hours before the first leg of their Championship play-off against Cornish Pirates tonight.
Key to the results of the independent audit was that if London Welsh won promotion, they would not have primacy of tenure in a ground-share with Oxford United.
The Exiles expressed “grave disappointment” at the ruling, particularly given the timing so close to their play-off game.
They have 14 days to appeal, but have already sought clarification from the RFU about the primacy of tenure issue.
Central to their argument is the fact existing Premiership clubs such as London Irish and Saracens, who share at Reading and Watford respectively, are in the same situation but are not in danger of losing their top flight status.
The Exiles’ statement read: “The club also notes that if promoted it would share its ground with a club from the FA, 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.”
It added: "The club is especially disappointed in this regard as a firm binding agreement, subject only to promotion to the Premiership, has already been concluded with Kassam Stadium - a ground with facilities the club believes to be at least the equal of many other grounds already hosting Premiership rugby and which itself hosted a Rugby Union Challenge Cup final only a few years ago."
The Kassam is hosting the second leg of the play-off next Wednesday (7.45pm).