Pontypool RFC 'not good enough' to be in new rugby premiership, High Court told

Pontypool RFC
Image caption The WRU denies unfairness saying Pontypool is not good enough to be in the top league

A lawyer for the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has told the High Court that Pontypool is not good enough for the reorganised premiership.

The WRU's barrister argued that the new downsized top league was about the best teams, not the teams with the best bit of roof over their terraces.

Pontypool was "not good enough on the pitch," the court was told.

The club is asking a judge to overturn the forced relegation, claiming it was victim of an "abuse of power".

But the WRU's barrister Adam Lewis QC told the second day of the hearing:

"This is still about sport".

"It is still about the best teams, not the teams with the best roof over a bit of terracing."

Mr Lewis told judge Sir Raymond Jack the aim of the reforms was to create a quality premiership, underpinning the regional clubs and national team.

Selection was based on a "meritocracy" table, based on prior performance on the pitch, he added.

'Legitimate' decision

"There is no unfairness. It came 13th out of 14. That is the reason it won't be in the premiership. It was not good enough on the pitch," Mr Lewis added.

On Monday the court was told by Pontypool's barrister, Ian Rogers, that the WRU broke its own rules on how the new-look premiership would be made up.

The league was supposed to include 10 clubs, but that was extended to 12 after pressure from regional clubs, Ospreys and Scarlets, he said.

Mr Lewis said however the move to include Bridgend and Carmarthen, taking the number of teams in the league to 12, was a "legitimate" decision for the Union to make.

Concerns had been expressed about the regional balance of the league, with Ospreys and Scarlets both worried about the reduction of teams in their areas, he said.

Mr Lewis denied the inclusion of the two clubs was a form of "impermissible cherry-picking", since Bridgend and Carmarthen had been the next best performing teams in the meritocracy table.

He said Pontypool was trying to "force" its way into the reform Premiership for the imminent 2012-13 season, but its complaints were "regrettable and misconceived".

The hearing continues.

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