Rotherham Titans 34 Bedford 19: Rotherham fear being forced to switch home to Abbeydale

Rotherham Titans are in a dispute over their home at Clifton Lane.Rotherham Titans are in a dispute over their home at Clifton Lane.
Rotherham Titans are in a dispute over their home at Clifton Lane.
As Rotherham returned confidently to form in the league after consecutive defeats at home, a dispute has erupted which seriously threatens the future of the Titans.

The Rotherham Athletic Company, which controls the Titans’ ground, Clifton Lane, is insisting on fresh conditions being met under the terms of a proposed new lease that would operate from the end of September.

Senior officials at the rugby club, fifth in the Championship, are convinced that if they accept the new terms, professional rugby at Clifton Lane would not be financially viable.

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Unless a satisfactory agreement can be reached, Rotherham, who have played at Clifton Lane for almost 80 years, may be forced out.

Titans’ directors are keen to stress they are reluctant to leave the club’s traditional home, but would have to discuss alternative venues, such as Abbeydale in Sheffield where last season’s promotion play-off against Bristol was played.

Other grounds in or near Rotherham are thought not to be feasible, and with Abbeydale likely to be favoured by a major, new investor, an international bank, a move to Sheffield is certainly one possibility.

The uncertain future of the Titans at Clifton Lane will be the main topic of conversation at tomorrow night’s meeting of supporters.

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Rotherham, preparing for a quarter-final against Leinster in the British and Irish Cup at Clifton Lane on Saturday, will be attending tomorrow’s important meeting at Headingley where the 12 Championship clubs will discuss their demands for a substantial increase in funding from Twickenham.

The RFU’s stance will be led by former England fly-half Rob Andrew, the director of professional rugby.

On the field, Rotherham beat Bedford by five tries to three.

The Titans led 22-19 at the interval following tries by hooker Tom Cruse, winger Sean Scanlon and captain Tom Holmes.

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Bedford were prevented from scoring in the second half as Rotherham’s attacking style produced tries for flanker Jack Preece and centre Jack Roberts.

On his full Championship debut, fly-half Tom Barrett delivered a strong all-round performance, putting over three conversions and a penalty.

Rotherham Titans: Hayes, Keating, Davies, Roberts, Scanlon, Barrett (McKinney 64), White (Mitchell 75), Hislop (Gadd 71), Cruse, Tampin (Thiede 52), Maddison (Parker 60), Holmes, Argyle (Birch 59), Preece (Morris 73), Rieder.

Bedford Blues: Pritchard, Tapley, Staff, Hakalo, Adamson, Jones (Le Bourgeois 64), White (Veenendaal 52), J. Harris (Williams 53), A. Harris (Clare 53), Boulton (Currie 53), Howard (Gulliver 64), Wells, Tupai, Blanchet (Buggea 54), Vandermolen.

Referee: G McDonald.