LOCAL clubs have backed the Rugby Football Union’s decision to cut the season short due to the coronavirus outbreak – but they say ‘champions-elect’ like Clee Hill must be promoted.

The RFU announced this week that the 2019/20 season will be halted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, other than the Premiership.

A statement said: “We are working through the implications of ending the season early and have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game.

“We will communicate these outcomes by the middle of April. While we would like to provide all the answers now, we need some time to get it right for the best interests of the game.”

That leaves teams like Clee Hill – who are 14 points clear at the top of Midlands Four West North and champions in all but name – in limbo while the issues of promotion and relegation are decided.

The club itself has not commented on the issue this week but has found supporters in local rivals Ludlow and Tenbury who both believe Hill should be promoted.

Ludlow head coach Mikey Jones, whose side will finish seventh in Midlands One West, said: “If Clee Hill don’t get promoted it would be unjust.

“They are however many points clear with a game in hand and teams like that, if you look at their form, they are not going to drop all of those points and lose the league.”

Andy Black, director of rugby at Tenbury, who will finish seventh in Midlands Four West South, agreed, adding: “Clee Hill are the clear winners of their league.

“I’m sure they would be extremely disappointed if they have to start all over again. The RFU has to make a blanket decision and teams at the bottom have to accept their fates as well.”

Both teams felt they would have finished higher had the season been allowed to continue but each understood the reason for the decision.

Jones added: “With what’s happening, it’s the right thing to do. We are just disappointed the season ended with a loss and hopefully all of this doesn’t affect the club too much financially.”

Black, meanwhile, said: “It’s fortunate we finished on a high with a home win but we were hoping to climb the league with the games in hand we had.

“We would have hoped to creep up to third or fourth but at the end of the day rugby is just a game and there are bigger things we have to consider.”