Extinction avoided by Titans as new plan accepted

Rotherham have been granted an 11th-hour reprieve by the Rugby Football Union, having been faced with the possibility of extinction after their relegation from the Zurich Premiership, followed by receivership, at the end of last season.

After several days of negotiation with the RFU, when their first restructuring plan was rejected, the new management arrangement put in place by a consortium of local businessmen was accepted yesterday. Rotherham will be able to take their place in National League One, with their first match of the new season, against Sedgley Park, tomorrow.

The Titans have been released from their ground-sharing lease with Rotherham United Football Club at Millmoor, and will move back to their original home at Clifton Lane, where they and the town's cricket club are co-tenants.

To ensure Rotherham's survival, the consortium raised £500,000 of which £100,000 was pledged by the club's former owner, Mike Yarlett. But the new board have rejected Yarlett's offer of help because they could not agree to the conditions of his loan.

While the survival of the club was in doubt, their newly-appointed coach, Ross Reynolds, and several key players have departed. But director of rugby, Jim Kilfoyle, has 17 of last season's squad to work with, plus players who have come in on short-term loans and some of the Under-21 side will have to step up. "It has been a traumatic three weeks," said Kilfoyle, "but we've cleared the first hurdle, and are desperately keen to get out on the park and start playing rugby again. Even though some players have left - and I can understand their reasons for leaving - we will be very competitive, you can be sure of that."

The long-serving Mike Schmid, who was demoted when Steph Nel took over, is restored as first-team coach, and will also play at No 8 if needed.

The Australia full-back Matt Burke has been selected on the bench for Newcastle's Zurich Premiership match with Bath. The 31-year-old Wallaby World Cup winner arrived in the UK last week, but was ruled out of last Sunday's season opener against Worcester in order to give him time to settle.

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