Pontypool Park.

Pontypool And London Welsh On The Brink Of Triumph . . . But For How Long?

You’ve got to feel for clubs like Pontypool and London Welsh and after the decisions by their respective unions to shut down all rugby for this month.

Both are on the verge of promotion and the worry for them now is they could be denied a step-up for whenever the 2020/21 season starts, if the current campaign is deemed null and void.

In the case of the Exiles, they are two wins away from making it three successive promotions in their long fight to climb back up the English league system.

They currently lead the London 2 North West Division by six points from Hammersmith & Fulham with four games left to play.

Things have been going really well at Old Deer Park this season. The Druids beat Ealing 1871 2nd XV 35-7 in the battle of the top two teams in the Middlesex Merit table in their last outing last month to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games.

The top four teams are due to go into an end of season play-off shoot-out for the title.

The club has also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of their clubhouse by Prince Charles this season.

They produced a special film for the occasion which highlights the history of the club and shows some of the action from the special game arranged against a Wales international XV.

Watch the film here:

For Pontypool, a fourth successive WRU National Championship title is well within their reach after an unbeaten run of 16 games.

With seven games to go they lead Bargoed by seven points in their bid to return to the top-flight with automatic promotion available to the winners of the title.

Their latest triumph, a 15-12 victory over Bedwas at the end of January, made it an amazing 63 league wins in a row. They’ve scored 385 tries and 2,540 points in those matches at an average of six tries and 40 points per game – with only 1.5 tries and 12 points in return per game.

Centre Kieran Meek has appeared in 59 of the 63 games and scored 399 points. That includes 22 tries and 125 conversions.

Other teams chasing titles that could now be left high and dry are Llandudno, who are unbeaten after 15 games in Division 1 North as they look to make it back-to-back championships. Glyncorrwg are also unbeaten after 13 games in Division 3 West Central B.

Pontypool have managed an amazing 63 league wins in a row. Pic: Craig Thomas/Replay images.

South Gower boast a 100% record after 14 matches in Division 3 West Central C, while in Division 2 West, Burry Port lead by 14 points from Mumbles after going unbeaten in 15 matches.

As the pause goes on, the Welsh Rugby Union has written to all of Welsh rugby in the first instalment of a newly planned weekly status update.

The update sets out how the WRU plans to cope with the disruption caused by the current coronavirus outbreak and says it wants Welsh rugby ‘to emerge from this crisis with the WRU and all teams and clubs, whether they be amateur, semi-professional or professional, intact and able to have a sustainable future’.

It confirms that club grant payments will be made as normal at the end of April, that emergency funding will be allocated to high priority cases and that all clubs will recieve an additional £1,000 in funding as the Union seeks to make contingency plans and offer advice to address the fast-moving issues created by the current crisis.

A similar update will be provided directly to all clubs every Wednesday on an ongoing basis with further information on steps the WRU has taken to reduce costs and build forecasted financials well into the next financial year.

The WRU is also working closely with all stakeholders including the Welsh Rugby Players association, the Professional Rugby Board – which oversees the professional game in Wales – the Community Rugby Board, clubs and districts, its commercial partners, sponsors and broadcasters.

 

It is also seeking counsel from organisations outside of Welsh rugby, from rugby unions to World Rugby and Welsh Government and appealing for help from all available sources.

“These are testing times and our commitment is to do everything possible to safeguard the future of our game in Wales,” the update concludes.

“Please be assured we will do all we can with the resources available to support the many stakeholders that we serve.

“We will all have to make difficult choices and compromises. We also know we will need to evolve our plan as things change and as new information comes to light.

“We can assure you any decisions made by the WRU will be made with the best interests of everyone in the game and with the best information available at that point in time.”

 

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