Victory for Doncaster or Ealing will save West Country club
Only London Irish and Yorkshire Carnegie can step up to Premiership
Doncaster and Ealing did not apply for a required independent audit
Bristol will avoid relegation from the Aviva Premiership if Doncaster or Ealing Trailfinders win this season’s Championship title.
The west country club are resigned to finishing bottom of the Premiership, standing 12 points behind 11th-placed Worcester with just two games left.
But there is an outside chance they could yet survive after a Championship announcement that both Doncaster and Ealing did not apply for a required independent audit that assesses clubs’ promotion eligibility to the Premiership.
“We feel promotion is unaffordable and out of our reach in the current structure and financial arrangement for professional club rugby in England,” said Doncaster’s president, Tony de Mulder, and chief executive, David Ryall, in a joint statement.
“Our preference is to continue to play expansive and winning rugby in the Championship rather than find ourselves bereft of the time and resources needed to construct a squad fit for Premiership competition where history has shown that the promoted side rarely prospers or survives.
“English professional rugby union is currently in a state of flux and there is much to be debated about the future of both the Championship and the Premiership.
“If and when the future of professional rugby in England becomes clear, then the ambition of Doncaster Rugby Club remains as fervent as ever but we will not cripple ourselves chasing something that is not feasible at this time.
“We owe it to our loyal supporters and players to strive for success on and off the field and believe this is more likely when competing at the top of the Championship than at the bottom of the Premiership.”