Title-chasing Ealing Trailfinders face London Scottish at the Richmond Athletic Ground at 3pm tomorrow, in a week where they were told that they did not meet the minimum standards criteria for promotion to the rugby Premiership.
Ealing currently lie third in the Championship, seven points off table-toppers Doncaster Knights and have two games in hand on the leaders.
However, they are not in great form having lost two of their last three games.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s hosts London Scottish are bottom of the Championship and playing for pride after a difficult season.
There is no relegation in the Championship this season, so they will remain in the division for at least another year.
Scottish come into this game on the back of three losses in February – most recently a 62-12 defeat against a rampant Coventry side.
The RFU verdict
The main reason Ealing Trailfinders did not match the criteria for promotion to the Premiership was due to their ground.
Trailfinders Sports Ground (which can hold approximately 5,000 spectators) would need to be able to hold at least 10,001 spectators.
An RFU (Rugby Football Union) statement read: “The independent audit has found that neither Ealing nor Doncaster Knights has successfully met the minimum standards criteria based on capacity, as well as other factors.
“The Professional Game Board (PGB) therefore made a recommendation to the RFU board that neither club could be promoted to the Premiership for the 2022-23 season.
“The RFU board has ratified this decision.”
According to The Times, Ealing are readying their case for appeal.
Top v bottom
London Scottish are huge underdogs for this game and exist in a different world to the big spending Ealing Trailfinders.
All of London Scottish’s players have full-time jobs and only train five hours a week – spread over Monday and Wednesday evenings.
Meanwhile, for Ealing, the title race had been shaping up to be one of the most interesting in years.
Doncaster Knights are first on 67 points, Cornish Pirates second on 63 points and Ealing third on 60 points.
The Cornish Pirates and Ealing both have two games in hand on Doncaster, with four games left for them and two for Doncaster.
However, the RFU ruling has ended the chances of an enthralling finish to the Championship season.
With Doncaster Knights and Ealing set to appeal, though, these last few games could yet be of huge importance.
So, expect Trailfinders to go all-out for the maximum five points against London Scottish on Saturday.
London Scottish, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to test themselves against a side that beat Saracens not that long ago.
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