THE Welsh Rugby Union denied "abdicating responsibility" for safety at grounds in its plans to relegate one of its most famous clubs.

Pontypool RFC is fighting at the High Court to overturn the WRU's decision to axe it from the top league in a major restructuring of the game.

Lawyers for the club accused the Union of "ignoring" safety issues in its choice of clubs to go forward and play in a newly constituted 12-team Premiership.

But the WRU yesterday denied the accusation, saying it is down to the clubs and local councils to make sure rugby grounds are safe for spectators.

"This is not the WRU's responsibility," said Adam Lewis QC. "This is the responsibility of the local authorities under the legislation. The role which the WRU is being said to have here just simply does not exist."

Earlier this week, the court heard that part of the selection process for the new division was based on whether clubs had A Licences for their grounds.

That meant having covered hard-standing for 1,000 spectators, but should be based on safety as well as capacity considerations, said the club's barrister, Ian Rogers.

However, the WRU's reference to the so-called Green Guide on safe capacity was "selective at best", he said.

Had the WRU properly applied the criteria in assessing clubs' grounds, three clubs could not have obtained the A Licences they needed to get into the Premiership, he argued.

Judgment in the case is expected to be reserved until a later date by the judge.