In response to recent media speculation, Pontypool RFC wishes to clarify its position regarding the forthcoming restructuring of the Principality Premiership and National Championship divisions as part of a wide-ranging review spearheaded by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).
Since November 2017, Pontypool RFC has attended three strategic events hosted by the WRU with regards to reforming the landscape of Welsh rugby.
The first event was a National Championship consultation driven by the WRU’s appointed consultancy firm - Wharton Consulting - where a range of topics were discussed amongst all clubs within the division to aid the informing of future strategy.
The second event was a presentation whereby Wharton Consulting outlined its suggested structure for Welsh rugby below the Regional tier.
The third event - held yesterday evening - was a presentation from the WRU, whereby Martyn Phillips (chief executive officer) and Geraint John (head of rugby performance) outlined their final position with regards to the future framework of Welsh rugby below the Regional tier.
Whilst Pontypool RFC will not disclose the nature of the new framework until the WRU formally do so themselves, the club is absolutely clear in its position that it almost fully supports the changes that will take effect from the 2019-2020 season.
The only item which Pontypool RFC contests, is the proposal to relegate the four lowest finishing clubs from the Principality Premiership to the National Championship at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season. Under this format, the winner of the National Championship title would face a home and away play-off with the club that finishes the regular Principality Premiership season in twelth place.
Pontypool RFC considers that this proposal fails to take fair account of the achievement of winning the National Championship title outright and would instead support the concept of relegating the five lowest placed Principality Premiership clubs at the conclusion of the regular season.
The club is also seeking further clarity with regards to Regional player allocation for the play-off fixtures and whether safeguards will be implemented by the WRU to prevent the Principality Premiership club from overly relying on support from their respective Regional counterpart, which will inevitably provide an unfair advantage over its National Championship rival due to Principality Premiership clubs benefiting from the division’s unique participation agreement.
It was determined at last night’s presentation that all Principality Premiership and National Championship clubs will vote to determine which relegation model will be implemented and as such, Pontypool RFC is resigned to the fact that a play-off scenario is inevitable.
It was also determined that the final decision on all matters pertaining to the new framework would be made by the WRU within the next four weeks.
Pontypool RFC wish to make it abundantly clear that any concerns the club has regarding promotion and relegation should not be misinterpreted as objecting to the successful implementation of the new framework.
The club has long championed the need for significant reform in Welsh rugby and the framework demonstrates that these concerns have not only been acknowledged, but have also been largely addressed.
Pontypool RFC is clear that the new framework provides the single greatest opportunity for Welsh club rugby to integrate itself into modern best practice and the club offers its full support to the WRU in respect of their efforts.
Pontypool RFC now implores the WRU to defy what it considers to be unjustifiable negativity towards the framework and take the necessary steps to implement the proposals in full.