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Worcester and Leeds Face Anxious Wait
Championship play-off will decide promotion and relegation
Posted May 11, 2011 by Chris White
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With Leeds Carnegie finishing bottom of the Aviva Premiership, their fate will be decided in the relegation/promotion play-off between Worcester and Cornish Pirates in the Championship.
Worcester will be promoted to the Premiership if they can overcome the Pirates in a two-legged final, which would relegate Leeds, but neither Leeds nor Newcastle will be relegated if the Pirates win
Due to the size of the Pirates' Mennaye stadium, they cannot be promoted even if they win the play-off, so it poses the question: Why not give Worcester the promotion that they have earned and relegate Leeds?
The confusing situation in the Championship final has even some of the most hardened rugby fans scratching their heads as to the permutations and consequences for the winner and loser.
Worcester were winners of the Championship over the season. Why punish them for the Cornish Pirates stadium being judged too small for Premiership rugby? Worcester racked up 101 points from their 22 matches, finishing 19 points in front of Bedford, yet could find themselves staying in the Championship, even if they win the final.
Premiership rules state that a ground must be able to seat at least 10,000 spectators, and The Mennaye Field has a maximum capacity of 3,000.
Chief Executive of the Pirates Ron Coward said, "It is very frustrating for the club, but when you enter the process you understand the rules, which is why a stadium for Cornwall is essential if we hope to become a Premiership club."
Leeds have parted company with head coach Neil Back, but before his departure, Back feared for the Yorkshire side, saying "Over the two games, I can only see one winner. My money, if I was a betting man, would be on Worcester."
It is a very strange situation for the three clubs involved to be in, but Leeds can do nothing. A win against Northampton would have seen them safe and Newcastle in this position. The Pirates have absolutely nothing to lose. They can play the games of their lives and deny Worcester promotion, and they could roll over and see Leeds relegated. For Worcester, the equation is simple. They have to win. It could have been simpler if the powers that be had said "congratulations, we'll give you promotion as you earned it", however.