Falcons decision 'fair and balanced'
REACTION: There have already been threats of ‘legal action’, but the Newcastle Falcons’ promotion to the Premiership has been described as a “fair and balanced outcome”.
Rugby Football Union President Peter Wheeler confirmed the decision to promote the Falcons on Thursday.
The decision comes following the early conclusion of all English rugby below the top-flight Premiership due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Newcastle held an 18-point lead over Ealing Trailfinders, who had a game in hand, when the season was halted.
Ealing had suggested they would take legal advice if such a decision was taken, a move described as “distasteful” by Newcastle Director of Rugby Dean Richards.
Yorkshire will be relegated from the second tier having lost all their games this term.
Newcastle – who have won all 15 of their matches – will replace disgraced giants Saracens, who were relegated due to repeated breaches of the salary cap.
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The RFU said the table will be determined by a “best playing record formula”.
“We believe that the decisions made provide fair and balanced outcomes for the game and maintain the integrity of the competitions,” said Wheeler.
“This has been a difficult decision to make in the most unprecedented of circumstances.”
RFU Chief Executive Bill Sweeney said it was not a unilateral decision and the clubs had been consulted.
“When the game stopped on March 14, 80 percent of the games had been played,” he said in a conference call on Thursday.
“We felt that the fairest and reasonable way to approach this was to apply a simple formula in terms of home record and away record.
“Apply that to the balance of games outstanding and then announce promotion and relegation.
“We did consult the game; the overwhelming response was that they had a preference to go that route.”
Newcastle chairman Semore Kurdi welcomed the decision while acknowledging the wider forces that lay behind it.
“These aren’t the circumstances under which any team would want to be promoted, but we thank the RFU for reaching a quick and decisive conclusion,” he said in a statement issued later Thursday.
“We fully appreciate the bigger picture with regards to the ongoing pandemic, and how sport pales into insignificance during times of national emergency.
“With that in mind, there is no real sense of celebration at the confirmation of our promotion –- our thoughts just go out to everyone who has been affected by the whole situation.”
It has yet to be decided whether the Premiership will resume and under what conditions.
By contrast, the women’s Premier 15-a-side season has been declared null and void after 12 of the 18 rounds were played.
Defending champions Saracens Women led the table by two points from Harlequins.