Doncaster Knights boss Clive Griffiths ‘totally against’ plan to ‘ringfence' Premiership

Doncaster Knights boss Clive Griffiths says plans to ‘ringfence’ the Premiership should be kicked into touch.

By Steve Hossack
Thursday, 14th February 2019, 8:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th February 2019, 8:52 pm
Clive Griffiths
Clive Griffiths

The Premiership Rugby board want further talks with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) about scrapping promotion and relegation.

Several Championship clubs have reportedly threatened legal action should the proposals ever get the go-ahead.

Not every Championship club would meet the strict criteria needed to be promoted to the Premiership should they win the league, while not everyone aspires to reach the top flight.

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But Griffiths has made it clear that winning promotion to the Premiership remains the target of everyone at the Knights, including the club’s financial backers.

“We are worried that next season could be the last time in the foreseeable future that there will be promotion from the Championship and that is why we are currently putting together a very strong squad,” said the club’s director of rugby.

“We know that several other ambitious clubs, such as Coventry, are doing the same so next season’s Championship looks like being very competitive.”

Griffiths fears that the Championship will stagnate, or worse, if Premiership owners get their way.

“We’ve already seen gates at some clubs fall, including here at Doncaster,” he said.

“That could partly be a result of the promotion play-offs being scrapped a couple of years ago, which was a big blow.

“I still remember us playing Yorkshire Carnegie at Castle Park in the second leg after winning the first at Headingley. The buzz around the town was phenomenal because even though we lost that particular game we had still made it to the final.

“Having seen what has happened to some of the once-famous Welsh clubs in recent years, I am totally against what the Premiership clubs are wanting to do.

“Why would our benefactors continue to give me the finances to fund a full-time squad if there is nothing at the end of it, no matter how well we did?

“If that were to happen at other clubs most of them at our level would have to go part-time and playing standards would either stagnate or decrease.

“Some clubs would be able to find players jobs to supplement their wages, as some do now, but where would clubs like ours find 35 jobs?

“It’s not just the players who would be affected; coaches, physios, admin, media, ground staff and catering staff would also lose out.

“At the very least the team which finishes at the top of the Championship should play the team finishing at the bottom of the Premiership over two legs but I still favour the current arrangement.

“If the top clubs get their way it would stifle ambition.

“Just look at a club like Exeter and how well they are doing in the Premiership,” he added.

“Yet it’s not too long ago that they were playing at our level. The new proposals, if accepted, would mean that no-one could ever do what they have done.

“In my opinion all the owners of the Premiership clubs are thinking about is themselves. They certainly aren’t thinking of the Championship clubs and the hundreds of other clubs in the leagues below.

“They should be thinking of the game as a whole. Where do they think a lot of Premiership players start playing?”