Newcastle Falcons boss Dean Richards hit out at Ealing Trailfinders after their director of rugby Ben Ward mounted the idea of a legal challenge.  

On Friday, the RFU announced that the remainder of the 2019/20 season had been cancelled for all levels of rugby, except for the Gallagher Premiership, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This included the Greene King IPA Championship where Newcastle currently sit 18 points clear at the top of the table having won all 15 of their games, with Ealing second on 53 points. 

Details surrounding promotion from the Championship have yet to be finalised but the RFU committed to ‘a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game’.

However, in Sunday’s Rugby Paper Ward was defiant about the unique situation Ealing found themselves in.  

“We’re taking counsel at the moment from a legal perspective as to what our position is,” Ward commented.

“We’ve still got to play Newcastle and we have a game in hand, which is against Yorkshire Carnegie, so while they look like they’re far ahead of us, the gap could quickly close.”

But the front page in the Rugby Paper was enough for Newcastle’s Richards to call into question the motives of Ealing at an incredibly testing time.

“At a time of national crisis, we should be focusing all our attention on helping the most vulnerable, both within our own organisations and in wider society, rather than instructing legal representation,” Richards said.

“The RFU have publicly committed to a review to decide the outcome of the league, and we had intended keeping a respectful silence to avoid any suggestion of influencing this process.

“Difficult decisions have to be made in these unprecedented times, when people’s lives and livelihoods are being lost. If Ealing’s primary concern is whether they can bridge the 18-point gap between our two teams to gain promotion, then that reflects very poorly on them considering everything else going on in the world right now.

“Instead of spending money on legal counsel we will be directing it to those who need it most, and while Ealing might point out that their game in hand is against the bottom club in Yorkshire Carnegie, it should be considered that we also have a home game against Yorkshire Carnegie as one of our seven remaining matches.

“We fully appreciate that having an RFU review to decide the outcome of the season is not a perfect situation, but these are not perfect times.

“Anyone with any sense of reason or fairness can see what should happen, but rather than using the pages of a national publication to discuss legal action we will just allow this process to reach a logical conclusion.

“There are more important focuses for our attention and resources at this incredibly testing time, which makes Ealing’s public position all the more distasteful.”