CHIEF executive Ben Jeffreys says Pontypool’s WRU National Cup exploits have made them a “legitimate threat” in club rugby and wants the chance to compete at the top table, writes Chris Kirwan.

Pooler’s attention is now on continuing their unbeaten streak in the Championship after they were knocked out by Premiership champions Merthyr in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Leighton Jones’ side, who can seal a second successive title with victory at Cardiff Met on Saturday, put up a spirited display but were beaten 21-6 at the Wern.

Jeffreys believes the size of the travelling contingent on a perishing night in Merthyr shows the appetite for Premiership rugby in Pontypool.

The Welsh Rugby Union are rubber-stamping changes to the top flight with a return to 12 clubs for the 2019/20 season, with the Championship winners likely to face a play-off with the Premiership’s fifth-from-bottom team.

“I thought Merthyr RFC showed our club a lot of respect,” said Jeffreys in an open letter to Pooler’s fans.

“They picked their strongest possible squad and they knew they were in a battle against a quality opponent for the full 80 minutes.

“I thank them for their warm hospitality and for their contribution towards what was a memorable evening of rugby.

“We are clearly now regarded as a legitimate threat in Welsh club rugby and it is now up to the Welsh Rugby Union to allow us the opportunity to compete at the highest level once again. “Hopefully the outcome of their long-awaited restructuring process will allow Pontypool RFC the opportunity to earn its place in the Principality Premiership on merit, should the club succeed in winning the National Championship next season.”

“Last night may have been the end of our 2017/18 National Cup run, but we remain at the early stages of what is rapidly becoming an amazing journey to reinvigorate Pontypool RFC,” continued Jeffreys.

“I have every confidence that under the leadership of Leighton Jones, the club will continue to achieve many great things in the coming seasons.”