Archive - Tuesday, 26 June 2012
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Pontypool RFC 'not good enough' for new league - court hears
RELEGATION-THREATENED Pontypool RFC were simply "not good enough" to make the cut for the new Premiership, lawyers for the Welsh Rugby Union told the High Court.
The club is fighting a courtroom battle to overturn the WRU's decision to axe it from the top league in a major restructuring of the game.
Lawyers for the club say the decision is wrong and an "abuse of power."
But the WRU says the club's challenges to the decisions are "misconceived" and should be rejected.
"This is still about sport," said WRU barrister, Adam Lewis QC. "It is still about the best teams, not the teams with the best roof over a bit of terracing."
The aim of the reforms was to create a quality Premiership, underpinning the regional clubs and national team. Selection was based on a "meritocracy" table, based on prior performance on the pitch.
Pontypool was ranked 13th out of the 14 existing top league clubs.
"There is no unfairness," he continued. "It came 13th out of 14. That is the reason it won't be in the Premiership. It was not good enough on the pitch."
Pontypool's barrister, Ian Rogers, said the Union broke its own rules on how the new-look Premiership would be made up.
The league was supposed to include ten clubs, but that was extended to 12 after pressure from regional clubs, Ospreys and Scarlets, he said.
But Mr Lewis said the move to include Bridgend and Carmarthen, taking the league to 12 teams, was a "legitimate" decision for the Union to make.
Concerns had been expressed about the regional balance of the league, with Ospreys and Scarlets both worried about the reduction of teams in their areas.
Mr Lewis denied the inclusion of the two clubs was a form of "impermissible cherry-picking", since Bridgend and Carmarthen had been the next best performing teams in the meritocracy table.
He said Pontypool was trying to "force" its way into the reformed Premiership for the imminent 2012-13 season, but its complaints were "regrettable and misconceived".