7:20am Wednesday 2nd May 2012
By Iwan Gabe Davies
PONTYPOOL great Eddie Butler has backed his old club in what he calls a “fight for survival” against the Welsh Rugby Union over its desire to axe Pooler from the Premiership.
The ex-Pontypool and Wales captain was speaking at the official opening of an exhibition celebrating the club’s 144-year history at Pontypool Museum.
Other club luminaries like Clive Rowlands, Tony ‘Charlie’ Faulkner, David Bishop and Graham Price, who is its president, were among around 200 guests at the event.
Despite being a night honouring the club’s many achievements, many thoughts at the gathering inevitably turned to Pontypool’s current plight off the field.
The WRU have kicked the club, and Tonmawr, out of the Welsh game’s semi-professional elite league – reducing the Premier-ship by two to 12 sides – and put them into a new 14-team National Championship.
The union made their decision based on a number of factors, including ground criteria, player development and league position over the past six seasons.
But Pooler aren’t going down without a fight and are locked in a legal battle with the WRU to remain at the semi-pro game’s top table.
Number eight Butler, who played for the club during its halcyon days of the 1970s and 1980s when they were one of the most feared teams in Britain, contrasted former glories with its current day struggles.
“You enter a sorrowful tone which is completely wrong,” he said.
“We know we have difficulties. We are in trouble.”
Then, speaking lightheartedly and alluding to Pooler’s reputation during their zenith for an aggressive style based on uncompromising forward play, he added: “If there is one common theme throughout the ages, which is no doubt reflected here, it is that we do have a tendency for violence!”
Adopting a more serious tone, he then said: “All we can do is say that the fight goes on – and we are very good at it.
“And long may it be so that we fight for our very existence.
“This is a great rugby club and we must fight for its survival.”
Last month club president Price attacked the WRU’s actions as “ill-conceived, poorly planned and badly executed”.
Earlier in April, Pontypool managing director Frank Stanton called on the club’s supporters to put their hands in their pockets to help pay for the legal costs after the setting up of a ‘fighting fund’.
Stanton asked fans to buy season tickets for the 2012/13 campaign and for sponsors to make early financial commitments.
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