JUST when you thought nothing major was likely to happen as the weeks slowly passed to the first of the pre-season matches next month, than the “fat hit the fire” on Friday afternoon as the Cornish Pirates announced that they were abandoning the Recreation Ground at Camborne and returning to play next season at their own ground at the Mennaye.

As was to be expected such an unexpected announcement as this caused all manner of reaction far and wide, the term seismic would not be inappropiate as the ramifications reverbarated from Pendeen to Saltash and all points in between!!!

On the face of it appears to be a disagreement between the Cornish Pirates and Camborne RFC over the use of a Marquee on non-match days. Further statements are expected from both parties during next week, perhaps then we shall have a better understanding of “wasson”.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this sorry affair, it’s the rugby public who sadly will be the ones to suffer over this contretemps!

This is the statement realised by the Cornish Pirates on Friday;

“With a month to go before the first game the Cornish Pirates have abandoned plans to continue playing at Camborne.

The Clubs have been unable to agree on the use on non match days of the new events marquee currently being installed at Camborne so rather than continue in this state of flux and incur further cost without knowing the outcome the decision has been made to up sticks and undertake the work and installation at the Mennaye where we have unfettered access.

Supporters and members are advised that every effort will be made to make the Mennaye experience as comfortable as possible in the short time left with new stands and the 200 seater marquee sited near the existing stand, which we hope to upgrade.

The club is very grateful to Camborne RFC for the use of its ground over the last few years where some terrific rugby has been on show – not least the last game played there in the Cup Final against Munster.

We don’t believe this will have a negative impact upon our ambitions, but how this move affects the financial health and future of the Pirates is unknown at this stage, however the club will reimburse any new season ticket holders who cannot see themselves supporting the club at the Mennaye in the forthcoming season.”

Both parties were asked to comment by BBC Radio Cornwall on Saturday’s sports program hosted by Ross Ellis but neither party were willing to comment further until next week, although Camborne RFC did not challenge the official statement from the Cornish Pirates!

What effect this will have on BOTH clubs remains to be seen but for the Cornish Pirates and it’s ever expanding fanbase this cannot be a welcome move, the only postive is that it makes the calls for a Stadium for Cornwall even greater than they were before. The Mennaye is a fine old ground but it is limited and it is not fit for purpose in the modern day Championship. I am sure every effort will be made by the club – and the wonderful supporters who are already rallying around – in the short time that remains to get things as far up to scratch as is possible. Penzance will be charming and welcoming to one and all, but when the big games come and the ground starts creaking over the 2,000 mark the limitations will sadly be exposed.

I for one will do my utmost to get to as many games as I can, it won’t be easy having to work on a Sunday, and when the clocks go back and kick-off reverts to 2pm then I will probably be forced to listen to the games on radio or tune in to Pirates TV, others too from further a-field will find it difficult, if not impossible, so I have no doubt that there will be an adverse effect on gates this season. I would be happy to be proved wrong.

And what of Camborne, I should think that many businesses are up in arms over this and it won’t help the coffers of Camborne RFC either! On the other hand in Penzance they will be rubbing their hands gleefully. Not a happy time for Camborne in this difficult economic climate.

The decision is made and we must all come to terms with it as best we can. We can but hope that the Cornish Pirates brand doesn’t suffer too much from it in the short to medium term.

Posted in Bill's Blog

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