‘We won’t risk club to chase Prem’, says Pirates supremo
Cornish Pirates chairman, Paul Durkin Photo SIMON BRYANT/PPAUK
7th July 2021
By Gareth Davies
Cornish Pirates chairman Paul Durkin says the club will not run the risk of financial ruin to realise their dreams of bringing Premiership rugby to Cornwall.
In an exclusive interview with the Voice, Mennaye Field chief Durkin also revealed that the club were, in the main, happy with the Rugby Football Union’s covid-19 recovery plan which was unveiled last week.
Main points for consideration from the Pirates’ point of view are that the Premiership will be expanded to 14 clubs at the end of next term, with one Championship club, subject to meeting strict criteria, elevated to dine at the top table of English rugby.
The following season, 2022- 23, there will be no promotion or relegation from the Premiership, but 12 months later, movement between the Premiership and Championship will be decided via a play-off with the winner, if they meet minimum standards, then duly promoted.
“We are not going to get into financial problems by trying to throw things at (winning promotion) only to not survive,” Durkin began. “We will play to win next season, but we are very much conscious that if we play and win, we might not be able to sustain a place in the Premiership for another couple of years.”
“That is the feeling of the club overall and that doesn’t mean that we are not ambitious because we very much are, but we will do things in an organised manner. We need to build a squad and we have been pretty good at maintaining a core of players. Our coaching staff led by Gav (Cattle) and Paves (Alan Paver) seem to be able to get the best out of the players and we now have the people in place to start building.”
“Who knows if we will get there before 2024, but who would have thought that we would have beaten Saracens in the first game of the season? That shows that anything is possible, and I am confident that we have a plan to get to the Premiership.”
“Whether that plan is completely executed the way we want to do it will depend on lots of things, but we will be doing our best to make things happen”
Although the plans do give some form of clarity for how promotion and relegation will work in the short-term, Durkin says that the next few seasons for professional rugby is still a journey into the unknown.
He also revealed that the rugby’s power brokers in this country could be doing more, with Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) key to these new plans after backing the RFU into a corner over the release of England qualified players.
“The RFU could be doing a hell of a lot more but I believe what has happened is that this whole plan hasn’t been solely driven by the RFU,” Durkin remarked.
“There has been a massive push from PRL because they have the RFU over a barrel in terms of England players. This means that PRL are much more likely to listen more, and this announcement has certainly been done in conjunction with PRL. It might not be everything PRL wanted, but it has gone quite a bit of the way down the line to what they need.”
“There is also speculation that PRL want to go to 16 clubs with two conferences of eight. That would mean that there would be a real carrot for the full-time professional teams in the Championship to go for it, although that probably wouldn’t be announced until after the 2024 season.”
“But if you think about it, the fully professional clubs currently like Ealing, us, Doncaster, Coventry, Jersey, three of those five could find themselves up with the existing 13 Premiership clubs.”
“All we can do is play the cards we are dealt and at the moment, that looks like one team going up to the Premiership next year, if they meet the criteria, and there will play-offs in two years , so we will just see how it goes.”