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Ealing silent on decision that they are ineligible for promotion

By Liam Heagney
Ealing's Vallis Way stadium (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Ealing Trailfinders have yet to issue a public response to Monday’s confirmation by the RFU that the Championship leaders will not be promoted to the Gallagher Premiership if the end the 2022/23 campaign as champions. The London club are currently leading the second tier league by a point but their stadium has failed the minimum standards criteria for clubs looking to take the leap into the big league.


Rather than propose to play at a stadium with the necessary 10,001 capacity, Ealing nominated Vallis Way as their preferred ground but the stadium was deemed to be of insufficient standard to host Premiership rugby.

It means that Ealing won’t be promoted if they are crowned Championship champions for the second successive season. Doncaster, the only other second tier club to put its name forward for the minimum standards criteria assessment, had its Castle Park ground approved to stage top-flight matches.

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However, the Knights are currently in fifth position in the Championship, 23 points behind leaders Ealing with 14 rounds of matches played.

A statement read: “The RFU board has ratified the recommendation of the professional game board on the minimum standards criteria assessments for Ealing Trailfinders and Doncaster Knights, the two Championship clubs that applied to be assessed. The outcome is as follows:


  • Ealing Trailfinders were not able to evidence the necessary licensed capacity, supported by a safety certificate or planning permission to achieve a capacity of over 10,000. Ealing Trailfinders are therefore not eligible for promotion to the Premiership at the end of season 2022/23.
  • Doncaster Knights have satisfied the minimum standards criteria and are eligible for promotion to the Premiership at the end of season 2022/23. Castle Park has a licensed capacity of over 5,000, with planning permission to extend beyond 10,000. The club has also provided detailed information regarding the safety assurance process to be undertaken by their local authority.

“Minimum standards criteria are in place to ensure Premiership Rugby clubs and promoted clubs have suitable facilities to protect player safety and welfare, provide financial sustainability and to deliver a good quality, safe environment for spectators. Each club and its nominated ground undergo an annual independent audit to assess compliance with the minimum standards criteria.

“The minimum standards criteria were revised in 2022 around the minimum capacity of grounds, to allow additional time for a club to build up to a capacity of 10,001… Ealing Trailfinders could have nominated an alternative ground at which to play should they be promoted but elected to nominate Vallis Way as their principal home ground.”


Professional game board chair Phil de Glanville, said: “The decision to support Championship club promotion, with a phased approach to ground development, was taken to support the transition to the Premiership and to allow more time to achieve the 10,001 capacity criteria.

“The RFU and all members of the professional game board would like to thank the Premiership and Championship clubs for the work being undertaken on finding ways to ensure the second tier of professional rugby in England can become more self-sustaining.”

It was in April last year when Ealing learned they would have to remain in the Championship for the 2022/23 season despite winning the 2021/22 title.


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Alex 522 days ago

So as I've understood it, the plan is to have 2 divisions of 10 teams each with pro/rel between them for tiers 1 & 2 of England's domestic rugby.

I love this idea. I'd prefer pro/rel. Here's my issue though. Of all of these clubs, if only 1 or 2 are eligible to come up, what's the point? Best case scenario you have a yo-yo situation with that club just coming up and going back down, worst case you go years at a time with no movement until the 1 eligible club happens to catch a good season.

So I'd propose an alternative, keeping in mind they want to cut back on number of matches to avoid clashes with international rugby, and due to player safety & fitness.

Twelve clubs, the current 11 plus the reborn Wasps, ring fenced. Split into a North Group & South Group. Similar to URC, you play a double round robin in your group (10 matches) and intergroup clubs once (6 matches). Top 2 in each group make the playoffs. North 1 v South 2, South 1 v North 2. You cut the number of matches pretty dramatically, but keep in mind it sounds like Champions Cup is going to switch to 6 group stage rounds up from 4. So you're still ending up with 22 total matches bare minimum.

Again, I'd prefer pro/rel. At the same time though, URC & Super Rugby both do fine without it, with only 16 league matches, up to 5 points up for grabs, Champions Cup & playoff spots on the line, you're still going to avoid a dead rubber for most the season, maybe you get 1 the very final round or two at worst. Bottom line if England can't sustain more than 12 (at best) elite clubs, then they can't sustain that. There's no point in setting unrealistic promotion standards just to pretend you have pro/rel, when in reality those standards are regularly missed.

Howard 523 days ago

Same thing happened to my club. Its the RFU’s way of ringfencing the ‘elite’ clubs !!!

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