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'Unforgivable ineptitude': Pontypool demand WRU resignations

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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Rugby at grassroots level in Wales has been thrown into turmoil this week following an extraordinary statement by Pontypool after they were left fuming with the WRU following its inability to rearrange an important National Championship fixture. The club described the conduct of Beddau as “unprofessional and disgraceful” and have called for resignations to happen WRU level. 

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The statement was issued on Monday after Pontypool opted to end their season following its frustration with the inability of the WRU to get the back-match played before the May 14 deadline. Their withering attack on those tasked with running the community game in Wales ran to nearly 600 words and nothing was seemingly left unsaid with its stinging criticism, the statement concluding that the governing body had again proven it wasn’t fit for purpose.

The statement in full read: “Pontypool RFC can confirm that the club’s 2021/2022 WRU National Championship campaign has concluded prematurely, meaning the quest for a fourth successive title has been stripped away through no fault of our own.

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“Despite numerous efforts by Pontypool RFC to re-arrange the Beddau RFC fixture, Beddau rejected several dates before ultimately refusing to fulfil the fixture without explanation. After referring this matter to the Welsh Rugby Union, the governing body not only confirmed that Pontypool would not be awarded a bonus-point walkover victory but there was no means by which Beddau RFC could be sanctioned for their unprofessional and disgraceful conduct. 

“A lead member of the Welsh Rugby Union’s community game board committed to display further weakness by ‘asking’ Beddau to fulfil the fixture, but we have heard nothing since. After waiting over two weeks for a progress update and given all fixtures were to be completed by May 14, 2022, our patience has run out and we refuse to be degraded a day longer.

“Given that the season will not conclude with all fixtures completed, Pontypool and Ystalyfera officials have today agreed that there is no point in devoting time and financial resources into re-arranging the fixture between the two clubs. Pontypool is grateful to Ystalyfera for the spirit in which these discussions were held and we share their frustration in this matter.

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“This means the ‘final’ National Championship league table will show Pontypool having played just eleven of its thirteen scheduled games and the club will finish no higher than third place. Pontypool would like to place on record its strong dissatisfaction towards Beddau for how it has chosen to conduct its business. 

“To forfeit a National Championship fixture diminishes the league’s credibility and makes an even greater mockery of what has already been a disjointed season. It is the club’s position that they should be expelled from the National Championship immediately, but this clearly is not going to happen due to the unforgivable ineptitude of the Welsh Rugby Union.

“As such, the club also wishes to place on record its frustration for how the Welsh Rugby Union has lost complete control of its ability to govern the game. Time and time again, the governing body has proven it is not fit for purpose and Pontypool is again calling for the entire community game board to resign from their positions with immediate effect.

“Welsh club rugby deserves a community game board – and a board of directors for that matter – that hold the requisite skills to manage the game at all levels. To place an ambitious club such as Pontypool in a position whereby the club’s season has been abruptly terminated whilst still holding a mathematical opportunity to win a National Championship is indefensible. They have caused untold damage to the reputation of the second tier of Welsh club rugby.

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“We extend our sincerest apologies to our supporters for this highly embarrassing and unacceptable display of unprofessionalism from Beddau and the Welsh Rugby Union. We also wish to express our immense gratitude to the Pooler Army for your unwavering support during what has been an immensely challenging period throughout Covid-19 and the subsequent return to play.

“Our focus will now turn to making preparations for a hugely important 2022/2023 season, but we do so with an intense level of cynicism and concern for how the Welsh Rugby Union will govern the National Championship effectively, given its abysmal track record of presiding over a culture of failure and apathy towards the clubs it supposedly represents.”

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