Ruck and Maul: Leeds' ambitions to fight another day lie in hands of the Warriors
Sunday 03 April 2011
Leeds may be spared relegation from the Premiership – should they finish bottom, as looks likely – if the winner of the Championship is not one of the three clubs who have applied for promotion.
Of the eight teams in the Championship play-offs only Bristol, Worcester and Nottingham registered for the auditing process that tests them against the Premiership's entry criteria. Worcester are favourites to win the two-legged play-off final on 11 and 18 May. But if, say, London Welsh, Cornish Pirates or Bedford are champions, Leeds will be saved – as they were in 2002 when the Division Two winners, Rotherham, were unable to meet the criteria.
Met want to meet Hollinshead
Neil Hollinshead, the "businessman" who had short-lived involvement with three London clubs – London Scottish, London Welsh and Rosslyn Park – in 2009, was tracked down to Dubai by BBC Wales for a documentary shown on Tuesday. He has been coaching at Dubai Wasps, whose captain, Trevor Leota, played for the Premiership club of the same sobriquet.
In 2009 London Welsh moved out of what they called a "strategic" administration when Hollinshead promised them funds of £2.6m, supposedly with backing from the Saudi royal family, but the money failed to materialise amid allegations of false bank accounts and statements.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed to Ruck and Maul that a UK warrant is out for his arrest and that "a 40-year-old woman was arrested and is on police bail pending further enquiries". She is thought to be Hollinshead's partner Yasmin, who helped him front Arena Events Group, a firm that sponsored Rosslyn Park at the same time as he pledged millions to London Welsh.
Donations for two nations now
The Super Rugby held at Twickenham last weekend to raise funds for victims of the Christchurch earthquake drew criticism from some Premiership clubs – no doubt keen to protect what they see as their market.
It was true that a donation of £175,000 to the Red Cross from ticket sales was not the only money at stake. The cash-strapped Crusaders expected £500,000-plus from tickets and broadcasting, but that was based on a crowd larger than the 35,094 who turned up. The RFU say profits of over £100,000 from ground hire, bars and catering will go to the Christchurch and Japan disaster funds.
How Evans stooped to conquer
Harlequins have hosted Super Rugby teams from South Africa in the past, and their departing chief executive, Mark Evans, predicted they would be back for more.
He has started a firm called Capacity Consulting, selling skills that helped attract average crowds of 12,600 to a redeveloped Stoop this season and almost sold Twickenham out for the "Big Game" over the last three Christmases. But he doubted if "Wembley was working" for rival club Saracens' games there, and said Wasps' "St George's Day Game" at Twickenham was "a struggle".
So what of Harlequins 10 years from now? "I can see them consistently in the top four with crowds of 16,000 to 18,000. I think I'll see Big Game 14 come to pass. But the biggest problem still holding the English game back is the reliance at some clubs on a single benefactor."
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