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Ealing win the RFU Championship but Premiership admission still up in air

By Ian Cameron
Ealing Trailfinders director of rugby Ben Ward (Photo by Ashley Western/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Ealing Trailfinders have won the RFU Championship, sealing their league win in impressive fashion with a landslide 60 – 10 hammering of Richmond yesterday.

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However, any possible admission into the Gallagher Premiership rests on the club’s appeal of a decision not to allow their entrance on minimum criteria grounds.

Nevertheless, there were joyful scenes in West London as the green and whites lifted the trophy in a league that came right down to the last round of games.

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After just two minutes, Simon Uzokwe slipped through for the first of his hat-trick of tries, and he added to his tally soon after in the opposite corner, again from a rolling maul.

Within half an hour, Craig Hampson dashed over the line from an attacking scrum, and Max Bodilly finished off a brilliant counter-attack to bring up the bonus point.

Mark Bright rumbled over for his 100th Championship try two minutes after the restart, but the pressure from the Ealing pack took its toll again in the 39th minute, when Rayn Smid barged over for the hosts’ fifth, with Craig Willis’ conversion bringing the half-time score to 29-5.

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Seven minutes into the second half, Bodilly scored his brace, bursting over from a scrum for his side’s sixth try, before Uzokwe added his third of the day, this time from a well-crafted lineout set-piece. In the closing 10 minutes, the Ealing backs tightened the screws, with Luke Daniels crossing and Angus Kernohan flying over for a brace in the space of two minutes.

Despite the fact that the eventual result was by that stage predetermined, the final stages were not without drama, with Bobby de Wee being sent off for dangerous contact and a late Richmond try from a close-range Callum Torpey pick and go.

“I’m incredibly proud of this group,” said Ealing DoR Ben Ward. “..it’s not all been plain sailing: this league has been really tough.”

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It’s a bittersweet victory for Ealing, with their promotion very much resting on a knife edge.

Ward believes that their acceptance into the league is still possible. In a recent statement, Ward said ‘we will be appealing the decision and have lodged that request formally in advance. We are confident of a positive outcome to this appeal.’

“Our submitted audit was not surprisingly based on the revised Minimum Standards Criteria, which focused, post covid, on clubs building financially secure and sustainable models protecting the Clubs, the Premiership and English Rugby.

“Because of this shift in focus and positive engagement with key Union decision-makers, we put forward a staged stadium development approach at our home ground, giving us the ability to have 7,500 capacity in Year 1 and build to 10,001 by Year 3. Our accurate assumptions are that our crowds would never be sold out at those numbers in that time frame, therefore having no negative effect on a rugby supporter or any other external bodies.

“The plan would develop a financially sustainable way robustly underpinned by our passionate and committed owner. Looking at rugby attendances in the premiership this season, our proposed capacity would not be out of sync with the attendances at many of the Premiership grounds.

“In its current format, our ground has hosted a season of Super League Rugby, The Women’s Premiership Final and would have hosted England U20 v South Africa U20 (cancelled by Covid).”

“Our plans to significantly improve our current set up in Year 1 and by Year 3 having a 10,001 stadium despite the events above have been refused.”

 

 

 

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