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Lichfield Ladies appeal for place in new elite rugby competition is rejected

An appeal over the decision to leave Lichfield Ladies out of a new elite rugby competition has been rejected.

The city side had joined Thurrock in bidding to overturn a decision to exclude them from the new Women’s Super League.

But an independent Rugby Football Union (RFU) panel has now rejected the appeal from both clubs.

In a report after the hearing, a number of reasons were outlined as to why it Lichfield should not take up a place in the competition, including concerns over the cost of competing.

“There is some force in the RFU’s concern that, if Lichfield were to make the financial commitment required for this competition it would amount to them putting every last penny the club has into this commitment,” the report said.

“We can see that may well cause financial problems as the commitment continued year on year.”

Much of the criticism over the initial decision came due to Lichfield’s record of providing players for international teams.

The appeal heard that the club had questioned the weighting given to the ability of the squad in the scoring matrix used to decide which teams were given access to the new elite competition.

However, the RFU insisted the original panel had not ignored this point: “It is correct that Lichfield has a high number of elite players and an excellent playing record, but it seems to us that the panel’s conclusions relate to matters which are not entirely resolved by the current or historical existence of elite players within the club or their success.

“We do not think there is any evidence that the panel ignored Lichfield’s track record. The panel was, however, looking for more to provide the necessary step change. No doubt the current standard of playing personnel was taken into account, but the panel was obviously concerned about other aspects.”

The appeal found that while Lichfield’s score on the application had seen them finish higher than one club in the new ten-team league, the decision could not be made solely on that basis.

“Although they [Lichfield] were a team that met the minimum standards, it is clear that when the first nine teams had taken their places, there was a much greater call for a team from the North East and an appropriate decision was taken to try to fill the tenth place from that area with a team which also met the minimum standards,” the appeal report added.

“We are not persuaded in any way that the process has not been followed or that there has been any unfairness to Lichfield.”

The full appeal hearing report is available online.

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  1. John Griffin

    28th April, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    According to Bristol Ladies in rugby media, it was the development of players that was a major issue. Lichfield had a great development programme but the RFU wanted to disband it and start one overseen by them. The finance thing is rubbish, as all the teams will get money from the RFU. The worst bit is that this decision is ringfenced for three years, so it will downgrade Lichfield a lot. IMO and lots of rugby people, an utter disgrace.

  2. Rugby mom

    28th April, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Why no mention of the errors that the process was strewn with? The financial position was misunderstood by the panel too. The appeal could only take I to account the process not the actual decision. You have not highlighted that in this report.

  3. Ross

    28th April, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks for the comment. The fundamental fact of the story at this stage in the process is that the appeal was rejected and therefore (some of) the reasons why are explained in the piece.

    The link to the full report is at the bottom for those who want to read the entire document which outlines the (many) issues on a variety of topics raised as part of the appeal process, including concerns Lichfield raised over the process.

  4. Darryl

    29th April, 2017 at 11:21 am

    My view on this, having read the ‘judgment:’

    RFU: Hi, welcome to our club, we see you’ve read our rules and have met them, excellent, welcome.

    LICH LADIES: thanks, it’s great to be here.

    RFU: Hold on a second, you’re from the Midlands.

    LL: Yes.

    RFU: Sorry we already have someone from the Midlands, we’re trying to keep members of our club from different parts of the UK.

    LL: But you have 4 teams from London, 3 from the south West?

    RFU: Yes, but we need more teams from further north.

    LL: But you have two teams from the north, 1 east and 1 west.

    RFU: It’s about getting to as many people as possible.

    LL: Birmingham and the Midlands is one of the most populated areas outside of London.

    RFU: Well, we’re quite expensive and you would spend all your money being in our club.

    LL: Being part of your club includes financial support, does it not?

    RFU: It does.

    LL: So what’s the problem?

    RFU: What’s YOUR problem?

    LL: Your rules, they’re unfair, we’ve met them and now you’re saying we can’t come in, because of where we are.

    RFU: They’re our rules.

    LL: We’ve supported you for decades, given you international players and now you’re casting us aside.

    RFU: They’re our rules.

    LL: Your rules are unfair.

    RFU: They’re our rules…

    Repeat ad nauseam.