Finally, some positive news out of Premiership Rugby, as the Doncaster Knights ambition for promotion and Wasps Championship Rugby futures were given more security. Although, that good news does not include the Worcester Warriors or Ealing Trailfinders.
On February 14, the Premiership ‘Professional Game Board (PGB)’ ratified its recommendation on the Minimum Standards Criteria assessments for Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders; the two Championship clubs that applied to be assessed. And in later news, Wasps Championship Rugby future was given support, as their new backers revealed some details on their return for the 2023/24 season, with confirmation they have now fully satisfied Rugby Football Union (RFU) requirements.
𝙈𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙢𝙪𝙢 𝙎𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙨 𝙎𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 📣
The RFU has released a statement on the findings of the Minimum Standards Criteria applications submitted by Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders.
More info ➡️ https://t.co/wNYiqfoVaz pic.twitter.com/j4ySFmxcjo
— Doncaster Knights 🏉 (@DoncasterKnight) February 13, 2023
And while the outpouring of support for both promotion/relegation, and for the long-established Wasps clubs’ return to professional rugby goes a way toward correcting the unsettling period for many organizations, it still leaves two groups with no answers – or struggling to meet criteria that seems further away for stakeholders and observers. The Worcester Warriors are one still ‘cast adrift’ even with many reported efforts to lift the club out of Administration.
Still, there is some good news, and Last Word on Rugby hopes it gives rugby fans something more to cheer about in the future.
Positive news for Doncaster Knights, and for Wasps Championship Rugby futures
Doncaster Knights is a Yorkshire club based at Castle Park. They are currently playing in the RFU Championship Rugby, with a consistent record to match that of promoted sides like the Bristol Bears and London Irish. As one of the strongest performing Championship clubs, having achieved back-to-back top-four finishes in the division; making it to the Championship play-off finals in 2015/16 and semi-finals 2017/18, assisted in their case to feature in the Premiership.
Now the latest news from February 13 supports that case from 2023/24 onward:
- Doncaster Knights have satisfied the Minimum Standards Criteria and are eligible for promotion to the Premiership at the end of season 2022/23. Castle Park has a licensed capacity of over 5,000, with planning permission to extend beyond 10,000. The club has also provided detailed information regarding the safety assurance process to be undertaken by their local authority.
PGB board chair, Phil De Glanville, said: “The decision to support Championship club promotion, with a phased approach to ground development, was taken to support the transition to the Premiership and to allow more time to achieve the 10,001 capacity criteria. The RFU and all members of the PGB would like to thank the Premiership and Championship clubs for the work being undertaken on finding ways to ensure the second tier of professional rugby in England can become more self-sustaining.”
While it will see Doncaster able to prove the sustainability of the club, some worry that the financial reward that bringing in ‘other’ European clubs might see the RFU find reasons to overlook Doncaster, in the same way, they have not found the evidence from Championship-leading side Ealing Trailfinders, to be automatically promoted.
Look for more updates on the immediate future of the Doncaster Knights in any 2023/24 Premiership calendar.
Wasps find space in Championship, whereas Worcester ‘linger’
Good news has seen Wasps Championship Rugby pursuit rewarded. The RFU has confirmed, following the deadline related to Championship applications, that Wasps has met the conditions and will have a place in next season’s Championship [2023/24].
RFU CEO, Bill Sweeney, said: “Our goal has consistently been to see Wasps and Worcester in the Championship and preserve the clubs for their fans and the wider communities they serve. While we had hoped to see both clubs in the Championship next season, we are pleased that following months of work from all parties involved, Wasps will have a place. We know this will be very welcome news to all those connected with the club. We would like to thank all those involved with Wasps for the open and collaborative dialogue over recent months.”
“We appreciate that the disappointment felt by Worcester Warriors staff, players and fans following the Atlas decision will be very significant.”
Wasps supporters can now look forward to a competitive return to the second tier of English professional rugby. While that does not include European Professional Club Rugby – as the club is accustomed to – the rebuild will also take a great deal and energy, patience, and direction. The new ownership model has satisfied decision-makers yet, for a minority, it may only taste peace meal. And for some of the hardcore, it might take more than inclusion in the Championship to remove the bad taste left after the last six months of the suspended Wasps Rugby history.
Wasps now suspended from Prem Rugby 😔
Regardless of how these clubs ended up in this situation, innocent people are affected & being punished – players, staff, local & wider businesses & supporterswho provided services, supporters…👇1/5 https://t.co/AugD3hCPyO
— Ange Lee (@AngeJLee) October 13, 2022
Technical details of the ‘return to rugby’ planning were explained in an RFU statement; “The RFU has received the signed insolvency agreement and demonstrated proof of funds.
Wasps and the RFU have been working closely in recent weeks, particularly around the payment of rugby creditors, to establish a clear process for validation and payment of those rugby creditors. We will continue to work with and support the club over the payment of rugby creditors. The RFU and Wasps have agreed within the insolvency agreement that the payment of staff and players must be prioritized.”
Note: reports that Wasps might play home matches at Sixways Stadium in Worcester, are still to be qualified. It might possibly see the squad based in the West Country – away from their original London, and recent Coventry bases.
With these movements, Doncaster Knights and Wasps Rugby can look ahead, while Worcester Warriors and Ealing Trailfinders must continue to work towards changes in ownership and business policies and development, that might hopefully satisfy the RFU requirements. Yet in all practicality, if that has not occurred at this time, might it never happen? Supporters of the game wish for the best and wish Doncaster and Wasps all the very best over the next 12 months and more.
“Main photo graphic courtesy of Facebook club homepage“