Worcester’s MP has expressed his surprise and disappointment at the announcement today that the Atlas Consortium have decided to end discussions with the RFU over a Worcester Warriors side taking part in next season’s championship.
The MP who had been due to meet with the RFU today in order to urge further dialogue with the club’s new owners has expressed his surprise that the new owners, Atlas, have released a statement suggesting that they will bring in a semi-professional side from Stourbridge and rename the club Sixways Rugby.
Robin has written to DCMS ministers to pass on the concerns of many constituents who want to see a resumption of professional rugby under the Worcester Warriors banner and to urge them to urgently bring together the new owners and the RFU to see if and how this can be made a possibility.
Commenting on the news today, Robin said:
“Securing elite professional rugby at Sixways has always been at the heart of both my and local councils interest in the future of the ground and we made clear right at the start of the process that whatever the ownership, the only way development would take place at or around the ground would be if the interests of sport and the community were at its heart.
Breaking the link between Sixways and Worcester does not seem an obvious way to go about supporting that. There are tens of thousands of rugby fans in and around Worcester and I would urge anyone looking to the future of Sixways to engage with them, hear their views and make sure we can move forward together.
I will meet with the new owners to ensure I fully understand their plan for rugby and how these relate to their wider plans but I will also be asking the questions that my constituents rightly want answers to.
I am glad to have had assurances from the RFU about their ongoing support for the academy and the women’s side who will be playing in the Premier 15s next year, but I have urged them to leave the door open to Atlas to engage on championship rugby and I will urge Atlas to walk through that door to speak with them.”
Councillor Adrian Gregson, Mayor of Worcester said
“The links between Worcester Warriors and Sixways are a crucial part of Cecil Duckworth’s legacy for the city. Breaking that link would be a backward step. I hope Worcester’s place in the top tiers of the professional game can be maintained in the interests of Worcester and of rugby.”
Councillor Simon Geraghty Leader of the County Council said:
“Professional rugby has become a key asset for the County and we are keen to see that re-established as soon as possible.”
Leader of Wychavon District Council Bradley Thomas said:
“Professional rugby at Sixways is a key part of Worcestershire’s sporting identity. We must protect both the heritage of the sport on this site as well as the interests of players, fans, and the wider community. We remain committed to working with partners and stakeholders to deliver this outcome.”
Councillor Chris Mitchell, Leader of Worcester City Council said:
“Professional rugby at Sixways is at the heart of Worcester City and Worcester residents will be hugely disappointed at the news we have heard from Atlas today. The return of professional rugby to Sixways is vital to the city and anything the council can do to support that we will.”
Notes to editors
For the previous joint statement from council leaders see:
Joint statement on the future of Worcester Warriors | Robin Walker (walker4worcester.com)