Rugby Union: Clarke leads fight to survive

Richmond 19 Northampton 31

BEN CLARKE took a 7.00am phone call last week from Clive Woodward, the England coach. Though having been assured that he was in the selectors' minds, Clarke's worst fears were confirmed. The vacancy in the back row for the trip to Australia would be filled by Tony Diprose.

The news effectively meant that Clarke's international career was over. He was devastated, but it did not last long. Clarke, the Richmond captain soon learned of a development that was to have an even bigger impact, the selling of Richmond down the Thames.

"My disappointment turned to anger," Clarke said. "Nothing like this has ever happened in rugby before. A lot of the clubs who are trying to finish us off have been in trouble themselves. It's scandalous that they should get together and plot the end of a fellow club."

English First Division Rugby, the body representing the 14 clubs in the Allied Dunbar Premiership want the league reduced to 12 and see former ground sharers Richmond and London Scottish as the Disposable Two. The Scottish, who have no money, are being swallowed by Bristol, who have plenty, while Richmond are considered fair game after going into administration in March when their benefactor in chief, Ashley Levett, took his chequebook away.

The Board of EFDR then decided to invoke a clause in the small print enabling them to buy a club in critical financial condition and close it down. In a statement , they said: "One of our aims is to protect the interests, tradition and integrity of the amateur club for future seasons." The key word is amateur. Richmond would no longer play a part in professional rugby.

Richmond see it as an offer they cannot accept. EFDR says if refused it will exercise its option to buy the club for a pounds 1. The deadline is today. The motive for the action, as explained to Richmond's officers by Keith Barwell, Northampton's owner, in the directors' room at the Madejski on Saturday was: "There are 28 professional clubs in England, there is not the structure to support them all. There are only so many rations in the lifeboat and the weak have to be pushed out so the majority can survive."

Barwell also revealed that, before Levett cut his losses, he had phoned the Monaco-based entrepreneur with an offer of pounds 100,000 to buy Alan Bateman Richmond's Welsh international centre. Levett was not interested. Barwell's implication was that, if Richmond had sold Bateman, they might now still be on the bridge instead of firing the distress flare gun.

As Barwell tried to explain the inexplicable, Tony Dorman, the Richmond president, bought him a pint. "Don't shoot the messenger," Barwell told Dorman, before adding that the decision of the EFDR Board to apply the coup de grace was unanimous.

This does not tally with the intelligence gathering of John Kingston, Richmond's director of rugby, who has written to all his counterparts in the Premiership. "A lot of them are horrified at what's happening," Kingston said.

Kingston confronted Barwell on Saturday and found a chink in the armour. "Mr Barwell said that a possible solution to this problem was to have four clubs relegated next season with two going up from the First Division. This was in the space of a five-minute conversation, so I cannot imagine that the EFDR have thought this thing through thoroughly."

Richmond intend to fight the EFDR in court if necessary. "The arrogance of these people is unbelievable," Dorman said. "They have been in rugby for two years and have decided it's time that a club that has been in business for 138 years should cease to exist. They have no such mandate and we will not allow them to rewrite history."

Richmond: Tries Vander 2, Quinnell; Conversions Va'a 2. Northampton: Tries Malone, 2 Phillips, Seeley; Conversions Dawson 4; Penalty Dawson.

Richmond: M Pini; N Walne, A Bateman, M Deane (J Wright, 56), L Best; E Va'a, A Moore; G Powell, B Williams (A Cuthbert, 57), D Crompton, C Quinnell, C Gillis, M Swift (A Sheridan, 66), B Clarke (capt), A Vander.

Northampton: N Beale; C Moir, A Northey, (D Dantiacq, 71), M Allen, B Cohen; M Dawson, D Malone; G Pagel, C Johnson, M Stewart (M Volland, 74), J Phillips, T Rodber (capt; S Hepher, 28), P Lam, G Seely (C Allen, 8), B Pountney.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).

News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
black friday
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Citifocus Ltd: ACA - Financial Reporting

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Chartered accountant (ACA or CPA), must be...

Langley James : Senior Infrastructure Engineer; VMWare, Windows; Disley; £40k

£40000 per annum + benefits: Langley James : Senior Infrastructure Engineer; V...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?