Ghana, West Bronx – Since my last article on Promotion & Relegation in the Aviva Premiership and French Top 14, a few things have happened.
We’ll start with France since that situation is pretty straight forward… Lyon will be relegated. After toying with dropping it appears, RWU team-to-watch Bordueax-Beagles avoids the drop. Bordeaux Bègles. Unfortunately, Brive didn’t after being neck and neck with Bayonne. Bayonne pulled it out. As I sort of predicted a few weeks back. In Pro D2 and winning promotion is Grenoble. In the playoffs for the second and and final spot are Pau, Mont-de-Marsan, Dax, and La Rochelle. The playoff schedule is as follows.
Pau vs La Rochelle on 5/19/2012 – Final Score: Pau 16 – La Rochelle 14
Mont-de-Marsan vs Dax, on 5/20/2012 – Final Score: Mont-de-Marsan 24 – Dax 20
Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas (Bordeaux), 5/26/2012, 2:00pm (GMT)
Pau vs Mont-de-Marsan
We will let you know the results after this weekend.
Now we turn our attention to England, where as always there is high drama. Newcastle beat Wasps but not by enough points, so they are bottom of the Premiership, set to be relegated. However, the two teams that could have won relegation and make it straight-forward process were eliminated in the promotion playoffs (Bristol and Bedford, respectively). That leaves a promotion final of London Welsh (home to USA Rugby’s Shawn Pittman) and Cornish Pirates (home to USA Eagle and friend of RWU Andrew Suniula.
Apparently the RFU do an audit of the possible playoff teams in March and announce the results at the end of May, after the Promotion Final. Why the process isn’t done at the start of the season and made transparent is the question. But this is the RFU and apparently, this would be too logical and sensible an idea for them to follow.
Firing a preemptive shot are London Welsh, saying they have their lawyers at the ready to fight the audit if it finds them ineligible to move-up. They have announced plans to be the primary tenant in a stadium in Oxford, which is a good few miles away from London. Can you imagine a New York City team playing far outside the city and yet still claiming to represent NYC??? Oh, wait… The NFL’s Jets & Giants do exactly that…
Meanwhile, the Pirates freely admit that they are not ready this year to move up. They are trying to slowly build to it but have been dealt a blow by the town council. Apparently Cornwall is the Florida of England and full or retirees. These retirees have no problem coughing up town money for high-brow things like a symphony hall or a museum but my word… forget a rugby stadium. The Chairman of the Cornish Pirates, Dicky Evans gives his thoughts here: CLICK THIS.
The two-leg final is set for this week and the following week.
RFU Championship final 2011-12
Cornish Pirates vs London Welsh, The Mennaye Field, Wednesday May 23, KO 1945 (GMT).
London Welsh vs Cornish Pirates, Kassam Stadium, Wednesday May 30, KO 1945 (GMT).
And that’s the latest in the Promotion/Relegation soap opera “As The Rugby Ball Bounces.” But before we end, it was pointed out that I missed a head coach making his debut in my last column. Mike Tolkin is indeed making his debut for Team USA. We did cover that, however. Matt McCarthy got a sit-down with him on camera. I figured you could watch that and therefore didn’t include him. Apologies… Check out the interview – it’s good.
Until the next time, stay low and keep pumping those legs!