Rugby Union: Rebel clubs facing expulsion

WELSH ROUND-UP
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The Independent Online
WITH THE deadline having passed without any money changing hands, Cardiff and Swansea, the rebel Welsh clubs, now face the probability of being kicked out of the Swalec Cup.

Both clubs were given until midnight last night to pay the pounds 150,000 fines meted out by the Welsh Rugby Union following the clubs' decision to leave the Welsh Premier Division to play a season of friendlies against the Allied Dunbar Premiership One teams.

However, neither club has any intention of paying the fines with Gareth Davies, chief executive at Cardiff Rugby Club, saying: "People have to remember that we did not choose to leave the Premier Division, we were forced to leave.

"The WRU told the clubs that participation in that division was dependent on us signing a loyalty agreement. We felt that such an agreement was simply not commercially viable.

"Once we were told we could not take part we had to explore the alternative avenues. One of those was playing against the leading English clubs. That is what we have done. I honestly don't feel there is any advantage in us coming home."

The WRU will now meet at general committee level, on 11 March, to discuss what sanctions to take against the clubs. The likelihood is that both will be kicked out of the Swalec Cup competition.

By then Cardiff and Swansea are hoping to have bought in to the Allied Dunbar Premiership One by purchasing one of the numerous English clubs who are in financial difficulties.

For the record, not that it will count for anything if the Union decides to go through with its threat of punishment, Swansea have been drawn at home to Ebbw Vale, who beat Caerphilly 20-15 yesterday afternoon. Cardiff must travel to Pontypool.

Cardiff reached the last eight thanks to a scrambled 20-12 victory over Aberavon, the Premier Division's bottom club, at the Talbot Athletic Ground. Simon Hill scored two tries and Gareth Thomas, playing his first game since undergoing shoulder surgery in January, added a third.

Swansea overcame Bridgend thanks to 18 points from their stand-off Arwel Thomas, but the surprise of the round came at The Park where Pontypool defeated Neath 15-14 thanks to tries from Alex Brown and Martin Crawley.

Pontypridd beat Bonymaen 47-12 to set up an enticing match against Llanelli who scored 15 tries in beating Llanhilleth 91-0.

Cross Keys beat Tondu at Pandy Park and will now play host to Tredegar, who beat Blackwood, after extra-time.

SWALEC WELSH CUP Quarter-final draw: Swansea v Ebbw Vale; Pontypool v Cardiff; Cross Keys v Tredegar; Pontypridd v Llanelli (Ties to be played 27 March).

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