Ealing Trailfinders hammered Richmond 60-10 on Saturday to seal the RFU Championship title.
The win saw Ealing secure their first-ever Championship title with the men in Green and White scoring 10 tries to finish the season with 80 points, three more than second-placed Doncaster Knights.
Normally, a Championship winning side would be promoted to the Premiership the next season, however, this may not be the case for Ealing.
Last month, the Rugby Football Union ruled that Ealing and Doncaster – the only two clubs to apply to be eligible for promotion – had failed the minimum standards criteria.
Ealing's possible admission into the Gallagher Premiership rests on the club’s appeal of a decision not to allow their entrance on minimum criteria grounds.
The main sticking point is stadium capacity which, according to the MSC, must be 10,001, Ealing do not meet this requirement but the RFU acknowledged recently, the minimum for Premier League football grounds is 5,000 which Ealing do meet.
Ealing went into the encounter knowing a bonus-point win would be enough to secure them the title and they got off to a perfect start with flanker Simon Uzokwe firing his way over after a lineout just 10 minutes into the match.
Simon Uzokwe scored his second not too long after at Ealing flexed their forward dominance in the early stages of the encounter. Scrumhalf Craig Hampson darted over the line in the 23rd minute as the hosts took control of the match.
The bonus point was in the bag shortly afterwards as Max Bodilly skipped over for the side's fourth try. Mark Bright got one back for Richmond but Ealing were determined to finish off the half on a high as Rayn Smid scored his side's fifth try to lead 29-5 at halftime.
Ealing's dominance continued int the second half with Max Bodilly scoring just five minutes after the break. Simon Uzokwe completed his hattrick before the hour mark.
Luke Daniels and Angus Kernohan scored in quick succession with Kernohan grabbing a second soon afterwards as Ealing brought up 60 points. Richmond had the final say of the match as Callum Torpey scored a consolation try before the final whistle.
"I'm incredibly proud of this group...it's not all been plain sailing: this league has been really tough." said Ealing Director of Rugby Ben Ward after the match
EALING'S STATEMENT ON RFU MINIMUM STANDARDS
Firstly we would like to thank our loyal supporters and the wider rugby world for the enormous swell of support and empathy following the RFU's disappointing decision.
To be clear, if we win this year’s fiercely contested Championship, we will be appealing the decision and have lodged that request formally in advance. We are confident of a positive outcome to this appeal.
Our submitted audit was not surprisingly based on the revised Minimum Standards Criteria, which focused, post covid, on clubs building financially secure and sustainable models protecting the Clubs, the Premiership and English Rugby.
Because of this shift in focus and positive engagement with key Union decision-makers, we put forward a staged stadium development approach at our home ground, giving us the ability to have 7,500 capacity in Year 1 and build to 10,001 by Year 3. Our accurate assumptions are that our crowds would never be sold out at those numbers in that time frame, therefore having no negative effect on a rugby supporter or any other external bodies.
The plan would develop a financially sustainable way robustly underpinned by our passionate and committed owner. Looking at rugby attendances in the premiership this season, our proposed capacity would not be out of sync with the attendances at many of the Premiership grounds.
In its current format, our ground has hosted a season of Super League Rugby, The Women's Premiership Final and would have hosted England U20 v South Africa U20 (cancelled by Covid).
Our plans to significantly improve our current set up in Year 1 and by Year 3 having a 10,001 stadium despite the events above have been refused.
Interestingly looking at football, a sport we would love to rival on attendances, have a minimum capacity for Premier League entry of 5,000.
Championship Clubs with Premiership ambitions should surely be actively encouraged to develop their stadiums rather than renting other grounds and losing key income lines along the way (food, drink, merchandise, ticketing).
Plans and methods should be implicated and encouraged by governing bodies to ensure this happens whilst ensuring no adverse effects to supporters, other clubs, broadcasters etc. Our proposal is detailed, robust and in keeping with the spirit of the revised MSC, and the RFU’s decision is disappointing.
Thank you once again for the support we have received. We hope the climax to the season is an exciting one, with the best team on the pitch picking up the trophy.