Rugby Union: Ailing Richmond battle against the bean-counters

RICHMOND'S OCCUPATION of the moral high ground remained unchallenged yesterday as the financially embarrassed Premiership One club continued to resist the cynical machinations of their top-flight rivals to strip them of their professional status.

Club officials remained adamant that a proposed hostile buy-out by English First Division Rugby was legally untenable and appealed to Allied Dunbar, the high-profile sponsors of the domestic championship, for support in their fight against the "draconian" move to put them out of business.

At least five Premiership directors of rugby were making their feelings known to their respective chief executives, despite EFDR's staggeringly dictatorial attempt to maintain a united front by threatening public dissenters with pounds 25,000 fines. As one coach put it at the weekend: "This isn't rugby and the people driving this through know it isn't rugby. It's one thing for a club to fail on the pitch and go to the wall. It's quite another for them to have the plug pulled by a collection of suits sitting round a boardroom table."

Yet there was a distinct whiff of opportunism amid all the solidarity. Bristol, newly promoted and keen to build a viable First Division squad for next season, are suddenly very interested in a number of Richmond regulars, including Agustin Pichot, Barry Williams, Craig Quinnell and Adam Vander. Spencer Brown, Allan Bateman, Darren Crompton and Ben Clarke are also likely to receive a seductive phone call or two before the week is out.

Tony Dorman, the Richmond president, claimed yesterday that Tom Walkinshaw, the EFDR chairman widely identified as the villain of the piece, had agreed to take the issue back to his board for reconsideration, but there was no confirmation of any such volte face. Indeed, Howard Thomas, the EFDR chief executive, was standing firm. "Richmond are understandably emotional, but we have put in the offer to buy their Premiership share to protect the amateur side of the club," he said. "If we acquire their share, they will cease to exist as a professional entity. However, we believe our offer to be acceptable in financial terms."

If Richmond, currently in financial administration, reject that offer, believed to be in the region of pounds 500,000, EFDR intend to exercise their alleged right to buy them out of the Premiership for pounds 1. However, the first deadline of yesterday lunchtime passed without incident after the administrators themselves threw their weight behind Dorman's on-going attempt to piece together a seven-figure rescue package. Tomorrow's important match with Saracens at the Madejski Stadium will therefore go ahead.

There has never been any doubt over this weekend's Tetley's Bitter Cup final between Newcastle and Wasps, although the organisers are still wondering whether the showpiece occasion will attract a quorum of supporters. According to Nigel Melville, the Wasps director of rugby, the competition is likely to generate far more momentum next season, when the winners will be rewarded with automatic European qualification.

"There's no point winning the cup on the Saturday and going bust on the Sunday," said Melville, wearing his blunt Yorkshireman's hat. "At the moment, it costs a club money to put together a good cup run. We've travelled to Sedgley Park and hosted Waterloo at Loftus Road this season and you don't make much out of those sorts of fixtures. But the European link will make the cup better business for the professional clubs. It's a wonderful competition because everyone takes part in it, but you have to earn through it too."

Melville will name his side tomorrow. The one major worry surrounds Simon Shaw, the former England lock, whose cauliflower ear has filled with blood and requires constant attention. Charming.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions