Clubs wait for RFU merger OK

Wessex and Exeter Youth are waiting for confirmation from the RFU that their proposed merger can go through in time for next season.

As revealed in this column last week, the adult-only Wessex club had been in talks with Exeter Youth about joining forces.

Wessex has no youth section, despite trying to set one up, and Exeter Youth offer no rugby post-18.

With Wessex under pressure at their Flowerpot Field home in central Exeter, where Exeter College and the Chiefs’ developing player squad also operate, merging with a club that has a ground makes sense.

Exeter Youth has a long-term lease on a ground at Oil Mill Lane near Clyst St Mary, where there are two pitches and room to expand.
Nigel Gooding, the Wessex president and a driving force behind the merger, said it is likely the club will be based at Oil Mill Lane.

“As an Exeter boy myself I am reluctant to move out of the city, but I suspect that is what will happen,” said Gooding. “There are 27 years on the lease and we have been told by the owner it may be possible to extend it, which will help with obtaining funding.

“Our request for a merger has gone in to Twickenham and we are waiting to hear back from them. If there are no problems – and we don’t expect any – the merger will go through a month before the start of next season.”

Gooding said the way ahead for the merged club may be under a new name.

“I am told the RFU will advise us on what to do,” said Gooding.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.