London Welsh are back on track in their climb up the English League system after the RFU confirmed they will be promoted despite the suspension of rugby due to the coronavirus epidemic.
It means Cai Griffiths’ side will move up into London North 1 next season after completing three successive promotions.
The RFU had spent several weeks in trying to resolve the promotion and relegation issue before finally confirming both the Exiles and Hammersmith & Fulham will move up.
When the season was brought to a halt, Griffiths’ side had just secured their 32nd straight home league victory in three seasons with a thumping 50-7 win over Hackney. That moved them 11 points clear at the top of a table and made it 17 wins in 18 outings.
London Welsh were thrown out of the Championship after going into liquidation under a mountain of debts brought on during a troubled time in the Premiership and a fateful move to the Kassam Stadium, in Oxford.
They found themselves relegated nine divisions to Herts/Middlesex 1 three years ago, taking over the lowly position in which their amateur side were playing.
In a statement on their website welcoming the RFU decision, London Welsh chairman Danny Griffiths said: “This is an amazing achievement for our club getting three promotions in three years.
“And with the Druids also being promoted champions, and the rest of the club thriving, we can all take some cheer in these dark times knowing that when the season starts again, our journey continues.
“I would also like to congratulate Hammersmith and Fulham who are promoted with us. We consider it to be an extremely brave, but also sensible, decision by the RFU, along with its advisors from around the rugby family, to have decided that because so much of the season has already been played, a formula based on average results will be applied to all teams in the leagues.
“It means that London Welsh have been promoted as London 2 NW Champions and I would like to thank all of those involved at the RFU for making such a strong and considered decision.
“I would also like to personally thank everyone at the club that has made this possible, our fantastic coaching team and players, as well as all of those who do so much off field and behind the scenes.
“Thank you all for your continued support, in these unprecedented times it is all of you that gives me confidence we will come out of the other side of this even stronger.”
LONDON WELSH PROMOTED
❤Year 3 of the 5 year plan
❤3rd successive promotion
❤We move on to the next ….
— London Welsh RFC (@LondonWelshRFC) April 3, 2020
London North 1 contains 14 clubs, rather than 12, and as well as London Welsh and Hammersmith & Fulham. Norwich, as champions of London 2 North East, have been promoted. It means they will meet Colchester, Old Haberdashers, Harpenden, Eton Manor, Southend Saxons, Sudbury, Brentwood, Shelford, Chingford and Amersham & Chesham.
Their latest promotion takes London Welsh to Level 6 in the league system, but next season only the winners of their new division are guaranteed promotion to the London & South East Premier, with the runners-up going into a play-off against the second placed team in London 1 South for the third and final promotion place.
From there it is on to the 16-strong National League 2 South, the National League 1 (16), the Championship (12) and finally the Premiership (12). It is only when you reach National League 1 status that you find any of London Welsh’s traditional rivals – Blackheath, Richmond and Birmingham Moseley.