NEWCASTLE director of rugby Dean Richards has expressed dismay at suggestions Ealing Trailfinders are considering legal action over promotion to the Gallagher Premiership.

Newcastle were 18 points clear at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship when the Rugby Football Union announced on Friday all competitions, bar the Premiership, would be abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

No decision has yet been made regarding promotion but there is an assumption the Falcons, who have won all 15 of their games this season, would be invited to take Saracens’ place in the Premiership.

That appears to have upset second-placed Trailfinders, whose rugby director Ben Ward told the Rugby Paper: “We’re taking counsel at the moment from a legal perspective as to what our position is.”

Richards countered: “Difficult decisions have to be made in these unprecedented times, when people’s lives and livelihoods are being lost. If Ealing’s primary concern is whether they can bridge the 18-point gap between our two teams to gain promotion, then that reflects very poorly on them considering everything else going on in the world right now.”

“Instead of spending money on legal counsel we will be directing it to those who need it most, and while Ealing might point out that their game in hand is against the bottom club in Yorkshire Carnegie, it should be considered that we also have a home game against Yorkshire Carnegie as one of our seven remaining matches.”

He continued: “We fully appreciate that having an RFU review to decide the outcome of the season is not a perfect situation, but these are not perfect times.

“Anyone with any sense of reason or fairness can see what should happen, but rather than using the pages of a national publication to discuss legal action we will just allow this process to reach a logical conclusion. There are more important focuses for our attention and resources at this incredibly testing time.”