London Welsh's dismal year forces top flight to think again

Welsh were walloped by Exeter on Saturday

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The Independent Online

It may not have been just the death throes of London Welsh as a Premiership club we witnessed in their 10-try, 74-19 walloping at Exeter. The entire set-up of the league is up for debate, including the shareholder structure and articles of association that contributed to Welsh’s hopeless performance of 27 losses in 27 matches in three competitions.

Their second relegation from the Premiership is set to be sealed in the next round of fixtures in three weeks’ time.

Ollie Smith, the London Welsh backs coach, was unable to say on Saturday which, if any, of the coaching staff would be around next season.

As for how you prepare a team to play in the near-certain knowledge of a thrashing, Smith, the former Leicester and England centre, said: “We do our analysis and we highlighted the way Exeter defend: they come up with line-speed but they leave the back field exposed. The top five or six teams around Exeter should look at our video and see how we scored three tries and exposed their defence.

“We’re the worst team in the Premiership and we’re setting records as we go along. We’ll keep battling on. We’re professionals – some of us will be at London Welsh next season, some may not.”

Centre Tom May said at the start of the season they aimed to “do an Exeter”. In most respects they have been the polar opposite.

Welsh led 12-6 early on but Exeter had 10 tries by the end, including two penalty scores from scrums and two for the Premiership’s leading scorer, No 8 Thomas Waldrom.

It was not a game to test anyone’s international credentials, but Henry Slade was mostly imperious at fly-half. The bad news, as Exeter contemplate this weekend’s LV Cup semi-final at Leicester, is their Premiership run-in comprises Leicester, Northampton, Wasps, Saracens and Sale. If the Chiefs finish in the play-off places after that lot they will have earned it.

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