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Pooler Press Release 12 July 2012

The WRU will parade this decision as an inevitable victory. It was not.

It is clearly a disappointing decision for Pontypool RFC and its supporters but in a number of areas of the case the club’s arguments were upheld by the judge and credence given to the club’s views.

The WRU needs to ask itself some serious questions about how this restructure was implemented and it needs to be much more open and transparent than it has been here. The judge indicated as much in suggesting that the WRU might learn from the case in relation to its practices, procedures and rules.  He also expressed concern that certain clubs may not satisfy the A License criteria and may have submitted false statements of truth although he was not in a position to make a finding on this.

Pontypool RFC successfully established a number of important issues.  This includes that there is a contract between the WRU and each member club in relation to the application of the criteria for admission into the Premiership. It also established that clubs which satisfy the first two conditions of the criteria for admission (the issue of an A License and signing of a Participation Agreement) will then be selected for participation in the Premiership in order of merit based on previous seasons’ performances.

The court also found that there is an implied term in the contract between the WRU and the member clubs of fairness in the treatment between clubs. The practice of using and relying on statements of truth was also shown to be suspect.  Hopefully, the WRU will have regard to these matters in its future dealings with its member clubs.

Pontypool RFC now has the unenviable task of trying to prepare for the new season lumbered with a huge financial burden. In addition to the huge legal costs, relegation means the club’s central funding will be cut by almost 95 per cent.

The directors would like to publically thank everyone who contributed to the club’s legal fund in such short notice. To raise in excess of £80,000 during the first week of asking is phenomenal, and shows the passion for and the high regard with which so many people hold this great club. In an age of austerity and with the sport as a whole struggling financially, this was a monumental effort.

Regional and club rugby in Wales is fighting a losing battle for people’s attendance and sponsorship, so closing the door on such a well-supported, financially sound, historic club that met the criteria for participation in the Premiership when it appears others did not and within the original time-scales set out by the WRU is baffling.

We hope the changes to the Premiership will vastly improve the playing standards as per the WRU’s wishes. We all want a high-quality and financially viable semi-professional game in Wales. 

In the meantime, Pontypool RFC is currently considering its position in the light of the judgment including the possibility of an appeal.

It also remains possible that in view of the judge’s interpretation of the criteria that Pontypool RFC could still find itself in the Premiership if the WRU’s ongoing investigations show that certain other clubs did not and could not satisfy the criteria.