10:30am Saturday 16th June 2012
By Will Bain
WALES and Lions legend Bobby Windsor has slammed the WRU’s treatment of his former club Pontypool and accused the union of showing contempt for local clubs who form the lifeblood of the game in Wales.
Windsor, who won 28 caps for his country as well as five for the Lions, said: “Pontypool shouldn’t be under threat from the big bad boys earning all the big money – it’s disgusting.”
Windsor was reacting to the news Pooler, who were a founding member of the WRU, will need to raise £250,000 before next Thursday, June 21, or have their hearing into the club’s relegation from the Premiership thrown out by the High Court in London.
Pontypool took the WRU to court after the union’s restructure of Wales’ divisional system saw the club and Tonmawr demoted, as the top flight was slashed from 14 teams to 12.
But in the High Court on Thursday Mr Justice Eady ruled the club would need to pledge to cover any “reasonable costs” incurred by the WRU or the case would be thrown out. The union estimated their legal costs to be £250,000.
Windsor, who was part of the unbeaten 1974 Lions tour to South Africa, said: “It’s ridiculous, there isn’t a club in Wales who could find that kind of money.
“It is just the WRU trying to force the club to pull out of the case.
“How did they manage to pay out massive bonuses to the Grand Slam winners and yet they need all their costs covering here?
“They should just waive the fee and let the court hear the case.”
And Windsor said the union failed to appreciate what clubs like Pontypool did for the WRU.
“The big stars who play for Wales now and help make the WRU money, they don’t just suddenly start playing for Wales or even the Dragons or the Blues, they start off playing junior rugby at clubs and I don’t think the WRU appreciate that the clubs help the union to be successful.”
Windsor also felt Gwent had regularly received a raw deal from the union.
He said: “They have always been more west than east. When the Scarlets were in financial trouble they helped them out and now look what they are doing to Pontypool.
“They let the Celtic Warriors go and they’ve never helped the Gwent clubs.
“I remember Talywain rugby club asking for some help from them and all they did was send them a ball.”
On the launch of the club’s appeal to raise between £50,000 and £75,000 pounds, which they feel will be enough to appease the court, Windsor felt sorry for the Pooler fans.
He said: “What can we do? There’s no money left in the valleys that’s why all our clubs went down when the professional era came in.
“I could say to people let’s fork out some money and try and save the club but God forbid if they lose they would have to hand that money over to the WRU and that would be a hell of a kick in the teeth. I wouldn’t give Roger Lewis and the WRU a pound.”
Windsor though has Pontypool in his heart and says: “For all those, fans, players and officials who have given so much to the club over so many years it would be a crying shame to see them relegated.
“We just have to keep our fingers crossed.”
The WRU were contacted by the Argus but declined to comment on the Windsor comments, stating on Thursday that: “The WRU does not feel it is appropriate to respond to any public comment on behalf of Pontypool at this stage other than to state that in defending this claim against it, the Union will continue to comply with its obligations to the Court and will remain mindful of the Court timetable”.
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