Doncaster Knights have announced they will NOT accept promotion to the Aviva Premiership if they are successful in their forthcoming play-off campaign.
Knights welcome London Irish to Castle Park in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final on Sunday.
They released a statement today saying promotion to the top tier of English rugby union ‘would not be in the club’s best interest’.
Knights also reached the play-offs last season and agreed to play matches at the Keepmoat Stadium in order to meet minimum standards criteria for the Premiership - should they have secured promotion.
But, in a joint statement, club president Tony De Mulder and chief executive David Ryall now say the Knights’ priority is for ‘continued, sustainable rugby at Castle Park’.
“Having previously looked at promotion we feel it is simply unaffordable and out of our reach in the current structure and financial arrangement for professional rugby union in England,” said the statement.
“Our preference now is to continue to play expansive and winning rugby in the Championship rather than find ourselves bereft of the time and resources needed to construct a squad fit for Premiership competition where history has shown that the promoted side rarely prosper or survive.
“The Club’s priority has to be to guarantee the continuity and employment of our current squad, the majority of whom have re-signed for next season and beyond.
“English professional rugby union is currently in a state of flux and there is much to be debated about the future of both the Championship and the Premiership, evidenced by the scrapping of the recent proposals made by Nigel Melville and Dean Ryan.
“If and when the future of professional rugby union in England becomes clear, then the ambition of Doncaster Rugby Club remains as fervent as ever but we will not cripple ourselves chasing something that is not feasible at this time.
“We owe it to our loyal supporters and players continue to strive for success both on and off the field and believe this is more likely when competing at the top of the Championship than at the bottom of the Premiership.”
Knights say they will make no further comment on the matter at this time.