Archive - Tuesday, 17 July 2012
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Pontypool RFC ‘could still play in Premiership’ court hears
RELEGATION threatened Pontypool RFC could still end up playing Premiership rugby next season, its lawyers told a High Court judge today.
The famous old club is the victim of a major restructuring of the game in Wales, which will see the formation of a reduced size, 12-team Premiership.
Last week, a judgment at the High Court appeared to have closed the door on its bid to play in the top flight - but today it emerged that is not necessarily the case.
In a hearing arguing over costs from last month's trial, the club's barrister, Ian Rogers, said it was Pontypool, and not the Welsh Rugby Union, which had "won" the case.
Mr Rogers said findings made by the judge, Sir Raymond Jack, about the way new league rules will apply to the Premiership meant there would be 12 teams.
But, because Carmarthen Quins have still not obtained a crucial A-licence relating to the facilities at its stadium, Pontypool could take its place as the 13th best performing team, the barrister said.
"We don't know what will happen," he said.
"We don't know because Carmarthen Quins at the moment still haven't got an A-licence. They haven't got covered hard-standing for 1,000.
"We also know there are lots of steps required for that to be achieved.
"As things stand, the rules are simply to be varied from 10 to 12 teams.
"We can assume that Pontypool have made a significant advance and put themselves in pole position.
He continued: "We would say that Pontypool are the winners because they have pole position at the moment. The key findings of the judgement have given Pontypool a very real claim to get what they always wanted."
Responding, Adam Lewis QC, for the Union, said the club's stance was becoming "rather more than merely tiresome" and accused it of trying to begin new litigation.
"There appears to be a troubling inability to grasp reality, which threatens to lead to further baseless litigation," the QC told the judge.
He said it was irrelevant where Pontypool stood in the "meritocracy"
based on recent performance on the pitch, because it would never get into the new Premiership.
The judge had found that the decision had not merely been to increase the originally planned 10-team Premiership to include 12 teams, but to specifically include Carmarthen Quins and Bridgend, he said.
"The clear winner in the case is the Welsh Rugby Union, the clear loser in the case is Pontypool," he added.
The hearing continues.