Rugby Union

Justin Burnell defends London Welsh's Premiership status

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London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell feels his side deserve to be a Premiership club despite a winless start to the season, reports BBC Sport.

The Exiles were promoted after victory over Bristol in last year's Championship play-off but have endured a torrid beginning to life as a top tier club, with six defeats from their opening six matches.

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The Oxford-based club have already been tipped as relegation favourites following a 23-3 defeat at the hands of Newcastle last weekend.


However, Burnell remained defiant when Welsh's position in the Premiership was questioned and he told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The rules were whoever wins the play-off goes into the Premiership.

"We earned the right to play in this competition and that is what we will be doing."

Remaining hopeful

Burnell is also confident his side can avoid a swift return back to the second tier but admitted they need to start winning matches if they are to retain their Aviva Premiership status.

"If we decided to give up now it would be a horror show against some of those teams."

The 47-year old also dismissed claims his team will not win a game all season and he said: "We are six down at the moment, to make the presumption it is going to be 22 is a big call.

"There are still another 16 games to go and we need to win a game or two.

"I don't think the league was decided on Saturday. We cannot give up, we have 16 games to go. If we decided to give up now it would be a horror show against some of those teams."

Much needed break

Welsh have a much-needed rest from their Premiership troubles as their next few weeks are taken up by European and domestic cup action.

His side have fallen victim to injuries and Burnell hopes the break will allow his player's to return to action in time to ressurect their league season.

"The injuries are absolutely ludicrous so whoever is fit and standing has to continue into these next two competitions," he said.

"I think we've got to step up our training regime to accommodate the pace of the game, that was a big thing from the first six weeks.

"This period gives us a major opportunity to take a much wider look at our squad and gives those players who played in the six-week window of the Premiership a rest."

The Exiles travel to France to face Lyon in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday.

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