May 26 2012
In a statement issued today, Newcastle Falcons vowed to continue their fight to avoid relegation. In the wake of suggestions of legal challenges by London Welsh in their bid for promotion despite not having met the necessary criteria, a bullish statement from the board of Newcastle Falcons states “Two can play at that game.”
Following a dismal season, the Falcons found themselves at the bottom of the table with relegation looking a certainty. The appointment of a new coaching team however transformed the club, and they started to claw back the deficit. “It was a mountain to climb” declared Chris Bonington many years ago.
Bonington on a mountain.
The battle against relegation went all the way to the wire, they had to win the last game of the season against London Wasps by 24 points or with a 4 try bonus. Newcastle Falcons were declared winners but had not scored the necessary points by the time the clock marked the end of the game.
The new director at the club Robin Theefe does not however see why this should be a problem, and he has been in almost daily negotiations with the RFU over the way in which the points should be counted. “We entered the final game in good faith that as long as we won we would have been able to satisfy the necessary criteria. We believe that the system of counting the points was basically unfair, and that the total number of points that we have scored satisfies the necessary criteria.”
There is much controversy over the way in which the final tally of points claimed by Newcastle has been counted. Robin Theefe declared “By the time the final whistle blew we were in negotiations with London Wasps regarding the final score in that game. It is our belief that not enough time was given as it was only weeks before the end of the season that we realised that we had a chance of not being relegated. We feel that the way in which this time limit was imposed was unfair, and that by our players being in negotiations on the pitch when the whistle blew we have met the demands insofar and inasmuch as hitherto stipulated.” Mr Theefe then went on to talk legal gibberish in depth for several hours.
There is also controversy about the allocation of an alternative pitch where they scored the remainder of their points. The second leg of the game was played at Stornoway Rugby Club in the Outer Hebrides and was uncontested by London Wasps due to an administrative error. Newcastle Falcons ran in 92 tries but were unable to convert any of them as a local farmer had borrowed the posts to mend a fence. Newcastle claim this gives them an aggregate win of 464 points, more than enough to earn them that vital bonus point.
The alternative venue does seem to fall outside the 30 mile rule however, being 691 miles from High Wycombe. Robin Theefe is adamant that this is within the rules. “The regulations do not stipulate whether this distance is measured by road, or as the crow flies, and we believe in good faith that we have the crow that meets the necessary criteria.”
Robin Theefe is a senior partner in global law firm Grabbit, Steele and Runne, and heads up an impressive team in the shady deals sector of the company in London & New York. Born in Newcastle, Mr Theefe’s family moved to London when he was 2 days old, and Robin is proud of his North East heritage. “I have fond memories of my childhood in the North East, I clearly remember being smacked on the backside then my dad asking ‘when can we get out of here?’ while my mother held me close. I still visit the region regularly as my plane usually takes a flight path over Newcastle as I fly between offices.” Robin Theefe believes that Newcastle Falcons are at the very heart of North East rugby, which is why he is laying on transport for the supporters when he relocates the club to Richnmond, Surrey.
We asked the RFU for a statement but nobody was available as they had all gone for a nice lunch.