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'We had a vote yesterday whether to play or not...'

By PA
(Photo by PA)

Worcester Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond revealed his players held a vote on Friday over whether to go ahead with Saturday’s match against Newcastle Falcons. The Sixways club face being suspended from all competitions on Monday unless they can convince the Rugby Football Union they have a credible financial plan to continue.

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It comes after weeks of turmoil surrounding an unpaid £6million debt to HM Revenue and Customs that is expected to force them into administration, with Worcester burdened by debts totalling more than £25m.

Worcester’s players put aside the off-field troubles with a brilliant 39-5 five-try thrashing of hapless Newcastle, with wings Alex Hearle and Duhan van der Merwe, scrum-half Gareth Simpson, replacement flanker Matt Kvesic and lock Joe Batley all crossing. Fly-half Billy Searle added the rest of Worcester’s points with the boot.

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Falcons scored an early try through hooker George McGuigan but were then blown away in a match that Diamond revealed was put up for debate on Friday. “We had a vote yesterday whether to play or not. It was virtually unanimous that we played,” said the director of rugby.

“I gave them the option not to play because it is a big risk if we are going into suspension on Monday, but they said to a man that their loyalty to the club made them determined to play. The staff here are all volunteering because they are not getting paid and that shows we have a really passionate workforce who care about their jobs and who care about Worcester. That is what I would be looking at if I was an investor.”

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Asked for his gut feeling over how events will play out between now and Monday, Diamond replied: “I have no gut feeling. When it goes into administration, or if it goes into administration because that is the rumour on the street, no doubt the relevant parties will contact the directors of the club and they can make the decision.”

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Diamond and his Worcester players formed a defiant huddle at the end before embarking on a lap of honour to thank their fans. The coach added: “I told the players they have a week off and let’s get to the pub.

“There is no plan now. The building isn’t insured from Monday so we are not allowed to train, use the gym or the rest of the facilities. The caretaker and his wife are being chucked out as residents on the site. The week after next we may start training at the amateur club over the road. I don’t think you could write this. I think BT have missed a trick not having cameras here but we are not glamorous are we?”

Worcester fly-half Searle hit out at owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring, accusing them of a lack of communication with the players. He said: “That’s been the worst thing, they haven’t been in once since we have been here. We have had a few emails and false promises and that’s even worse.”

Newcastle head coach Dave Walder said of his side’s performance: “We talked all week about dealing with the emotion Worcester may bring, but it was disappointing how we fell away.”

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