Hayle chairman Frank Partridge has called for leniency from the Rugby Football Union, with a proposed promotion to the Cornwall/Devon League putting the club’s existence under serious threat, writes Tom Howe.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Partridge admitted Hayle was in danger of following in the footsteps left by neighbours St Ives and Lanner, who have both been forced to withdraw from the league system in recent times. The increase in players’ many off-field commitments, coupled with the impact felt by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, have had a major bearing on Hayle’s prospects and the club are now calling on their governing body to permit them to avoid promotion and allow time to consolidate.
Having lost just once throughout their Cornwall One campaign, Hayle were promoted as champions. Although, with their spot potentially available, Devon One runners-up Tamar Saracens wait eagerly in the wings, having been disappointed at missing out on a promotion play-off against their Cornish counterparts, Newquay Hornets, who went up due to the RFU’s season-ending ‘best playing record’.
“We don’t really want to go up this year, that is the truth of it,” Partridge, who represented Hayle nearly 400 times as a player, told The Independent. “We have got a hard job to get our players to travel. We can’t pay players because you are not allowed to under RFU rules – not that we could afford to anyway – so to get players to travel outside their postcode is a wonderful thing. A lot of them nowadays are financially tied and it is very difficult for them. When we were up the year before last, we had to pull out of three games because we couldn’t make enough players travel, then you lose five points and the team you were against gain five points. Being in Hayle, every trip is up country. Players want to get back because they can’t afford to stay out that late, not like we used to. If you were away, you were away, but I am afraid it is a different world for our players now. Coronavirus has ruined us financially as well.
“What we don’t want to do is go the same way as Lanner and St Ives. We can hold it together if we stay in Cornwall One but if we get to the middle of the season playing in Cornwall/Devon, and we can’t get players to travel, then I am afraid we would have to do the same as Lanner did last year and drop out altogether and disappear.
“The RFU could end up putting us out of business. We would like them to give us a bit of space, especially after this virus because it is going to take time to consolidate. We are trying to adapt and keep rugby running in Hayle. If we stay in Cornwall One, we will survive. Going up means we won’t have a chance.”