Doncaster’s unfortunate plight at the bottom of the RFU Championship has added a previously unheard voice to some of the well-aired issues extant at the most perilous of professional rugby’s precipices.
In their medium-term history the Knights have been an upwardly mobile club but several years of modest recruitment have finally caught up with them and while they are not certain to be relegated, they are the most likely of the three contenders to depart through the trap door.
The consequences of this are similarly well documented but for those who haven’t spent the last few seasons peering over the edge, it basically means losing more than £300,000 in central funding.
I have no idea what Donny’s overall playing budget is but I would guess the RFU grant makes up a sizeable portion.
Which is why it was no surprise to see their director of professional rugby, Clive Griffiths, recently call for a licensing process that would effectively be a moratorium on relegation.
During his time at Worcester I found Griffiths to be a good coach, a fine person and passionate about rugby in both codes but I now find it impossible to agree with him – and it would take a Knights supporter of very recent vintage to do so.
After all only eight years ago they were not even in the second tier and were nearing the end of a run of four promotions in nine seasons that had taken them from the dark recesses of Yorkshire rugby to national prominence.
There was certainly no call for licensing emanating from Castle Park at that stage and one can only wonder what Pieter Muller would have made of being told winning level three was not sufficient to earn promotion to level two.
Probably exactly the same as Jersey’s Ben Harvey last season and Ealing’s Mike Cudmore this.
Too often clubs make public pronouncements that affect the direction and structure of the sport when – and only when – they find themselves affected and their status under threat.
Griffiths and Doncaster might have been secret champions of licensing for the last 20 years – but if they have been they managed to keep it jolly quiet on what was a totally deserved climb through the divisions.
Not only is the notion ideologically flawed it is also based on a preconceived idea of which clubs deserve to be in the Championship and therefore receive financial help from the RFU.
In 2004 that didn’t include Doncaster, a few years before that Cornish Pirates, Nottingham and Plymouth weren’t involved and licensing would have decreased their incentive to climb the ladder.
Surely Griffiths doesn’t want to stymie the ambition of others on the basis of self-interest.
If he has real concerns about the financial ramifications then I sympathise but that’s to do with funding and parachute payments not pyramids.