Pontypool RFC in relegation legal challenge

Pontypool RFC
Image caption Pontypool's legal challenge is due to be heard in the High Court in London next month

One of Wales' most famous rugby clubs is fighting a decision to relegate it from the top division of Welsh domestic rugby.

Pontypool's legal challenge is due to be heard in the High Court in London next month.

A Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) reorganisation of the semi-professional Premiership will see the number of teams reduced from 14 to 12.

The WRU said it would be contesting the challenge "with vigour".

It has assessed the 14 clubs that currently play in the Premiership and awarded licences to 12 of them based on factors such as youth development and stadium standards.

Unless the legal challenge is successful, Pontypool, which famously contributed the Wales team's front row in the 1970s, will play next season in a newly formed second tier.

The club is challenging the way the WRU handled the assessment process.

Managing director Frank Stanton told BBC Wales: "Our legal dispute is obviously between Pontypool and the Welsh Rugby Union but we also see it was a challenge on behalf of all clubs in Wales to ensure that the union that drew up its own rules and regulations is a union that follows its own rules and regulations."

He said Pontypool was "fully supportive" of Premiership reform, which the WRU has said is necessary to ensure that the quality of rugby continues to improve.

"Pontypool has been around for nearly 150 years. We were a founder member of the Welsh Rugby Union," said Mr Stanton.

"We've come through crisis before but, as a managing director, it's my job to ensure the club is properly managed and fit for purpose.

"We wouldn't enter this dispute if we didn't feel there was a strong case so we must ensure that Pontypool continues to play and, in some capacity, contributes to the success of the region as a feeder club and therefore on to the national game."

The WRU said the assessment process had been conducted within the rules.

"The WRU intends to contest the legal challenge with vigour and is confident of success based on the knowledge that the union has acted properly over this issue," said a statement.

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