Nothing to play for

A PAIR of southside rugby clubs have slammed an SRU decision which will leave them with nothing to play for next season.

A decision ratified this weekend, despite unanimous opposition from Premier three sides — with Cartha and GHA among them — means that all Premier three teams will be allocated into East and West regional leagues of ten teams each in season 2012-13.

Following GHA’s relegation last season both them and Cartha will compete in the final season of Premier three in 2011-12, but, because of the changes even a championship win will not mean promotion and they will instead compete in the new regional leagues.

GHA winger Rangi Jericevich, who is also the clubs secretary, believes the clubs who have been affected by the change have been “roundly ignored”.

“The change lowers the standard of the third tier in Scottish rugby whilst simultaneously reducing the number of teams involved in the top two from 24 teams to 20.

“National leagues provide a higher standard than regional leagues and we, along with all of our peers that are currently playing at this level, wish to play at the highest standard possible as this is better for our development.

“The reality now means that the motion has effectively consigned the 12 Premier three clubs to playing out a “dead rubber” season”.

Cartha Queen’s park president Tom Feasby added: “We, along with everybody who would be affected, wanted an amendment which kept four national leagues intact, and not go to a ‘Championship East’ and ‘Championship West’ scenario the season after.

“We’ll live with it but we’ll miss testing ourselves against opposition from all over Scotland”.

AN SRU spokesman told ExtraSport: “It is true that there will be no promotion from Premier three this coming season to enable the structure for which Scotland’s rugby clubs overwhelmingly voted to be fully in place by 2012-2013.

“However, Scottish rugby is sure that the personal pride and competitiveness of the players, coaches and volunteers attached to Premier three clubs this coming season will burn as brightly as ever”.

Whitecraigs, however, are in favour of the changes which could make them the only southside club playing national rugby in 2012-13.

Last season’s promotion to Premier two means that if they finish the season as one of the top twenty clubs in the top two leagues, they will stay within the country’s rugby elite.

President Graeme Scott told The Extra: “Whitecraigs accept the recent league restructuring as a positive for league rugby in Scotland.

“This is a huge incentive for the club and every effort will be made to stay in the national leagues.

“We welcome any players who wish to play at the top level of Scottish Club rugby to join us and take part in the very exciting and demanding upcoming season”.