SUPERMARINE have been handed a surprise promotion from Dorset & Wilts 1 North just a matter of days after thinking they’d just missed out on a place in Southern Counties South.
The South Marston club finished in fourth spot, four points behind champions Bradford on Avon, having been slapped with a five-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player when colt Macauley Reynolds represented the club against Pewsey Vale in February.
Although Reynolds was properly registered with Marine’s youth section and had permission to play adult rugby, he had not been registered with the league, an administrative error which had appeared to cost the club dear.
However, after the season’s end the league approached Marine asking them whether or not they would accept promotion should it be offered to them and then, following a meeting between the Dorset & Wilts RFU and the South West on May 18, head coach Sean Millwaters & Co were informed they will have the chance to play in Southern Counties South next season after Minety and Blandford declined the chance to contest a play-off to decide who would jump up a tier next term.
“Dorset & Wilts came and watched us with the president of the RFU about two games into the season. We don’t know why they came to watch but they did,” said Millwaters.
“We had an email after the final game asking if we’d still take promotion if it was offered and we said of course we would because on paper, if you ignore the fact we had five points taken off us, we won that league.
“We said all along that if we won that league we’d take promotion and if we didn’t we wouldn’t. My point of view, and that of the coaching team, was that we did on paper.
“Then we heard nothing for a couple of weeks and then we got an email saying they had a meeting booked with the south west competitions and they were recommending we were to be promoted.
“We don’t know (why), we’ve not had that feedback. I had a good chat with the president of Dorset & Wilts but I don’t know if that’s had anything to do with it or not. It might be one of the other teams has turned down promotion, we don’t know and can only speculate.”
Despite now having to prepare his side for a higher league, Millwaters is insistent that his pre-season plans will not need much adjusting.
“Not a lot will change from what we were planning anyway,” he said. “In my mind it hasn’t changed because what we were going to look to do if we were in Dorset & Wilts and what we’re going to do to be in Southern Counties South is very similar.
“If we hadn’t gone up we still needed to be playing the kind of rugby that would survive in the league above. It was just a nice piece of news, to be told we’re going up. I said all along I felt we deserved to because based on an administration error rather than any of the rugby on the pitch we were going to miss out.”
DORSET & WILTS STATEMENT
Chairman of the Dorset & Wilts competition committee John Constable released a statement to the Advertiser yesterday explaining the circumstances that led to Marine’s promotion.
The statement read: “Basically normally the two league winners, one from Dorset & Wilts 1 North and the other from Dorset & Wilts 1 South (both level eight), would be promoted to Southern Counties (level seven).
“However, the current rules do not allow for 2nd XVs to be promoted from our D&W mixed leagues to level seven.
“So whilst Bradford on Avon (as winners of D&W1N) won promotion slot one, we then had to look at the next ‘available’ teams.
“These were Minety in the North and Blandford in the South. We asked both sides to meet in a play-off to determine the second promotion place but both clubs declined to take part.
“Therefore, we offered the chance to the sides with the next best record and Supermarine accepted the offer to be promoted. This was agreed by the South West Competitions committee at the weekend.
“Actually, the league in D&W 1 North last season was so close that, had it not been for a penalty imposed due to a breach of regulations, Supermarine would have won the league.”