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Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Welsh exiles return home
cardiff_llanelli
The Welsh Premiership is only one step away
London Welsh are to quit the Allied Dunbar Premiership, after accepting an offer to play their rugby in Wales next season.

The Richmond-based Exiles have accepted a place in Welsh National League Division One, joining clubs such as Pontypool, Aberavon and Glamorgan Wanderers.

It will mean a 17-team division next term, and the move is now awaiting Welsh Rugby Union general committee ratification.

London Welsh, former club of Welsh legends JPR Williams, Gerald Davies and John Dawes, initially requested inclusion in the Welsh-Scottish League Premier Division.



We certainly don't expect to walk away with the division. We will need to play at the top of our form in order to compete

London Welsh director Bill Carey-Evans
But that was rejected by the WRU, who came back with a First Division invitation instead.

London Welsh director Bill Carey-Evans, said: "It was a very difficult decision.

"The heart was always wanting to go to Wales, but we had to consider what the financial implications were.

"Ultimately, we felt that the best future for the club would be within the Welsh set-up.

"We've kept the Rugby Football Union fully informed about developments, and they have been extremely co-operative.

"We are looking forward to next season in what will be a tough league."

London Welsh finished fifth in Premiership Two this term, winning 16 of their 26 league matches, while also reaching the Tetley's Bitter Cup quarter-finals when they lost to eventual runners-up Northampton.

But under Rob Andrew's plan for English professional rugby, there will be no promotion from the Second Division next term.

If they could win Welsh First Division title honours at the initial attempt, then it would give the Exiles money-spinning home games against clubs like Cardiff, Llanelli and Newport in season 2001/02.

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