'We will fight for promotion'
December 18, 2012
London Welsh managed to get promotion to the top-flight after challenging the Minimum Standards Criteria © Getty Images
RFU Championship chairman Geoff Irvine is adamant that the winners of the division this season will fight for promotion in a similar manner to London Welsh if their application is blocked.
The Newcastle Falcons are currently running away with the Championship and will meet the Minimum Standards Criteria laid out for promotion if they secure promotion at the end of the season. But if the Falcons falter in the play-offs and one of the other teams eyeing a spot in the top-flight secure the Championship trophy, then there could be a similar scenario to the end of last season where London Welsh managed to force their way into the Premiership after a lengthy legal battle.
The Exiles beat the Cornish Pirates in the play-off final but were denied entry as they were deemed to not pass the MSC laid down for promotion. However, they appealed the decision and, with the backing of legal advice, succeeded and were therefore granted entry to the top-flight.
And Irvine, who is chairman of the Bedford Blues and the Championship, is adamant that if any team who wins promotion is denied entry to the top-flight in a London Welsh-esque scenario, then they will challenge the decision in a similar manner to the Exiles.
"The Championship view is that the Minimum Standards don't exist anymore because Welsh successfully challenged the document, and our legal people support that position," Irvine told the Daily Mail. "We have been sent revised Minimum Standards which only address the primacy of tenure issue really. So what I have done on behalf of the Championship clubs is tell the RFU and Premiership Rugby, "Do what you want, but this could be challenged".
"We have put them on notice. I took a statement to the last Professional Game Board meeting in November, so that they have a formal record of the position of the Championship clubs. There is no point sabre-rattling now, but we have fired a shot across their bows.
"We've told them that we don't believe in the Minimum Standards and will challenge them at the first available opportunity. If Newcastle win the title then they will be off the hook for this season."
Bedford are currently the nearest challengers to the table-topping Falcons and Irvine claims that they will do all they can to get promotion if they get the opportunity. Irvine added: "At Bedford, we're just trying to win each game and not look too far ahead for now. But if we get into that position (challenging for the title), then we would employ the lawyers and have a go at them."
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