‘Disheartened’ Doncaster Knights to appeal against RFU decision to deny them Premiership place

Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders were both denied by the RFU. (Picture: Tony Johnson)Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders were both denied by the RFU. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders were both denied by the RFU. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Doncaster Knights are to appeal against the Rugby Football Union’s decision to deny them a place in the Premiership should they win this season’s Championship.

Doncaster applied for a place in the Premiership earlier this year on the strength of contending for promotion on the pitch, and the standard of their Castle Park venue which is deemed good enough by the RFU to host for women’s and Under-20s internationals. But on Tuesday the RFU said they would not be granted a place in the Premiership in 2022-23 even if they won the second-tier Championship because Castle Park only has a capacity of 5,183 and not 10,001, as laid out in the governing body’s minimum standards criteria.

Their title rivals Ealing Trailfinders have also been told they will not gain entry due to the size of their ground.

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A statement from Doncaster released yesterday read: “Doncaster RFC are disappointed, dismayed and disheartened by the decision of the Rugby Football Union Board to disallow the club’s application to play in the Premiership should the Doncaster Knights win the current season’s Championship. The club will be appealing the decision.

Doncaster Knights head coach Steve Boden. (Picture: Tony Johnson)Doncaster Knights head coach Steve Boden. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Doncaster Knights head coach Steve Boden. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

“Within the audit process, the only failure by the cub is to, currently, not be able to demonstrate a capacity crowd of 10,001 at the Club’s ground, Castle Park. All other aspects of the audit, it seems are in order and Castle Park has, on a number of occasions, demonstrated its proficiency in hosting significant events via both Women’s and Under-20’s international matches.

“At this stage, it can only be stated that the DRFC Board have every confidence that the required capacity could be delivered for season 2022/23 with a stand-by ground now being available should unexpected delays occur.

“There has been significant debate about the Premiership being open to promotion and relegation, which can only be good for the aspirational nature of clubs, players and fans alike. The current Championship contest is approaching its climax with at least three teams statistically able to take the winner’s title.

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“Excitement in the camps and amongst supporters is high but that has now been dashed at a stroke via yesterday’s untimely RFU statement, producing a resurgence of subsequent outpourings of angry feelings towards the governing body at a time when harmony should prevail.

Steve Boden (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)Steve Boden (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Steve Boden (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“Sensibility and fairness dictate that a delay to a decision being made could have been better for all concerned. Now, the teams play the final matches in an atmosphere of despondence, albeit an administrative box has been ticked.”

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