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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 April 2006, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Tykes relegated from Premiership
Iain Balshaw looks pained in Leeds' defeat to London Irish
Iain Balshaw is one player who will consider his Leeds future
Leeds saw their faint survival hopes finally extinguished on Sunday when fellow strugglers Newcastle beat Sale.

The Tykes, who have lost 15 of their 20 league games, gave themselves a glimmer of hope when they earned two bonus points in the loss to London Irish.

They still needed a miracle to preserve their top-flight status but Newcastle's win sealed their fate.

Leeds return to National League One, swapping places with Harlequins, after a five-year spell in the Premiership.

Relegation comes exactly a year to the day that Leeds claimed the Powergen Cup with a shock win over Bath.

The club is strong, we have an outstanding academy, quality people, top class facilities and a growing core support
Gary Hetherington
Leeds chief executive

Leeds dramatically avoided the drop on the final day of last season, with Quins ending up in National League One.

But the Tykes immediately began this campaign on the back foot, losing their first seven games.

The dreadful start led to Phil Davies standing down as head coach in October, but he decided to stay on as director of rugby.

There was a brief upturn in fortunes as the Tykes won four of their next seven games in all competitions.

But the damage was already done in the Premiership and not even the appointment of Daryl Powell as first team coach in January could prevent relegation.

"Naturally we are disappointed with our performances and results this season and we have no complaints about our fate now," said chief executive Gary Hetherington.

"At the start of the season we believed we had assembled our best ever squad but after a bad start to the season we were never able to recover enough to retain our place in a highly competitive competition."

Davies is fully aware of where Leeds went wrong this season.

"Consistency is the probably the best word you can use to sum it up," he said.

He's been the spine of the club for 10 years and we wouldn't be where we are today without the input of Phil Davies
Gary Hetherington

"At times we have played some sublime rugby and at other times we have been desperately disappointing, to say the least."

Davies is also a front-runner for the vacant Wales coaching job but is refusing to be drawn on the position.

"I am just concentrating on the next few games," he added. "My job is at Leeds at the moment, and that is what I am concentrating on."

Hetherington is aware of the stories linking Davies with the Wales job but says it is all speculation at the moment.

"Phil has been a terrific servant of ours," Hetherington told Radio Five Live.

"He's been the spine of the club for 10 years and we wouldn't be where we are today without the input of Phil Davies.

Iain Balshaw (L) and Justin Marshall leave the field after the loss to London Irish
Will Balshaw and Marshall be at Headingley next season?

"It's inevitable he is going to be linked with jobs, particularly the Welsh one. He's a passionate Welshman and he's got some ability."

Speculation will also surround the future of star players such as scrum-half Justin Marshall and full-back Iain Balshaw.

The likes of Bristol and Rotherham were forced to release all their players when they were relegated.

But the introduction of a parachute payment of 1.5m, plus the funding of Tykes chairman Paul Caddick, should help Leeds prosper in National League Division One.

Hetherington is confident the club will be able to cope with the financial implications of relegation.

"Relegation will not deter us from our ambition of providing Yorkshire with a Premiership team the whole county can be proud of," he said.

"We plan to improve our team for next season, create a winning culture and return to the Premiership in 2007.

"The club is strong, we have an outstanding academy, quality people, top class facilities and a growing core support who I believe will stick with us next season."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Leeds Tykes chief executive Gary Hetherington



SEE ALSO
Newcastle 32-21 Sale
16 Apr 06 |  English
London Irish 28-24 Leeds
15 Apr 06 |  English
Davies steps down as Leeds coach
27 Oct 05 |  English


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