PONTYPOOL have backed the Welsh Rugby Union’s decision to scrap promotion and relegation for the delayed 2020/21 campaign, despite it denying them another push for the Premiership.

The WRU announced on Friday that clubs will remain in their 2019/20 divisions even though they are hopeful of some form of competitive rugby in the new year.

The governing body have extended the season to May and plan for Premiership and Championship clubs to return first with “an element of contact rugby and some form of competition with modified laws and regulations”.

However, Pooler are now condemned to remaining in the second tier of Welsh club rugby until at least 2022.

Leighton Jones’ men had a perfect 16 from 16 record and were five points ahead of Bargoed with 10 games to go, including a meeting of the rivals at the home of the Bulls, when last season was cancelled.

South Wales Argus:

Pooler have suffered another blow, albeit an expected one, in their bid to return to the Premiership for the first time since 2013.

“Whilst we remain incredibly saddened that a return to rugby is not on the horizon for many months, Pontypool RFC fully supports the decision taken by the WRU and we would encourage all those connected to the club to also back the decision,” read a club statement.

“With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise exponentially in Wales, Pontypool RFC would not be comfortable in resuming typical operations in the current climate and the club is realistic that the landscape will not sufficiently improve for several months.

“Yes, we miss rugby. We are desperate for life to get back to normal. We want to turn our focus back to competing for promotion to the WRU Indigo Premiership at the earliest opportunity – but we don’t want to achieve our long-held goal at all costs.

“If by waiting, we can improve the chances of our staff, squad, volunteers and supporters remaining safe and well throughout this pandemic, then wait we shall. The club remains in a stable position and it will be here for us all to enjoy again in a post-COVID world.”

South Wales Argus:

Pooler will remain in the Championship with Cross Keys, Bargoed and Bedwas while Ebbw Vale and Newport are in the Premiership.

All community rugby will be suspended from December 28 after the Welsh Government announced the country will go into tier four measures.

Premiership and Championship clubs will be given six weeks of training ahead of a return while all other levels of the game will be able to resume touch rugby when Welsh Government guidelines allow, with notice given ahead of their return to contact.

WRU community director Geraint John said: “We are working hard with all partners to bring some form of competitive community rugby back before the end of the season and we feel this plan reflects that.

“We are acutely aware how much people are missing rugby. We also know that our clubs, who have been fantastic throughout this public health crisis, continue to face challenges.

“We have heard loud and clear their concerns about people potentially leaving the game during this enforced change to all our rugby lives.

“However, we need to bring the game back safely and sustainably when Welsh Government guidelines allow.

“These new measures have been submitted by our Community Game Board and have the approval of the National Sporting Group and the full WRU Board.

“We want to provide clarity to our clubs and the people who make up our game in Wales. Whilst we acknowledge this not a return to normal, it signposts a route back to competitive rugby.”