It is with a rueful smile and air of reluctance that Richard Hill admits relegation from the Aviva Premiership should be retained and that ring-fencing is not the way forward for the club game.
The Worcester head coach has added his voice to the debate currently engulfing English rugby following the end of the regular season, which saw Newcastle finish bottom of the Premiership despite a strong end to the season.
Under normal circumstances that would mean Falcons would be demoted to the Championship but as things stand that is by no means certain.
For the Premiership’s bottom side to fall through the trapdoor, there has to be a club capable of replacing them, both by winning the second tier play-offs and having a ground that meets the stringent Premier Rugby criteria.
The only club that has a realistic chance of achieving both is Bristol but they trail Cornish Pirates by 21 points going into Sunday’s second leg of the promotion semi-finals.
During a long coaching career Hill has experienced both sides of the equation and says he just about favours movement between the divisions.
“I would keep it but there are so many arguments for and against,” he said.
“There is no doubt that our Premiership lends itself to limited, safety-first rugby – there is no question of that at all. That’s not good for the competition.
“On the plus side you get great theatre, crowds get excited, for the outsider it’s fantastic to see that level of competition. To give the incentive to teams in the Championship to come up, like Exeter which is a great story, is not a bad thing.”
And he also believes relegation can actually have a purifying effect on clubs that have usually flirted with failure for several seasons.
“Teams go down, regroup and get better. We saw Harlequins go down a few years ago and come back strongly and they are in the top four now. We saw Northampton go down, they have come back up now and are also top four.
“And Worcester is a stronger club structurally, there is no doubt about that. When we went down we went through the whole business plan and everything else with a fine-tooth comb, through the whole organisation of the club and this club is now a much stronger organisation for having gone down again and come back up.
“I have got no doubts whoever goes down this season needs severe restructuring and it probably wouldn’t do them any harm to go down, readdress and then come back up more strongly. They wouldn’t see it that way, obviously.”
Falcons must now wait for the outcome of the Championship play-offs to discover their fate, to say they are rooting for the Pirates is an understatement.