LONDON Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said the club were back where they belong after securing promotion to the Premiership last night.
The Exiles won the Greene King IPA Championship final 48-28 on aggregate after a pulsating 21-20 second-leg victory over Bristol at the Memorial Stadium.
Although Welsh had a 19-point lead from the first leg, they were under pressure throughout before sneaking victory late on.
The feat represents a huge triumph for a club who dropped out of the top flight last term when they fell away following a points deduction for fielding an ineligible player.
“This means everything,” said an elated Burnell.
“But it’s more important for the famous name of London Welsh.
“It is back where it belongs. It’s next to your Leicesters, your Saracens and your Northamptons. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Burnell secured an immediate top-flight return for Welsh in his first year at the club and reflected on what a long haul it had been.
“You have got to laugh at that,” he said. “That’s 52 weeks and still going strong.
“There’s a lot of emotions, but Bristol are a fantastic team with all their firepower.
“I wanted to win the two legs. I didn’t want to do the aggregate thing.
“I am just elated!”
Burnell said his side’s battling qualities had again been on show against Bristol, but they were already looking ahead to next season.
“We have always been about workrate,” he said.
“We are happy, but it’s all hands on the deck again now, I guess.”
As well as praising his players, Burnell paid tribute to the backing he had received locally.
“You have always supported me,” he said.
Latest Sport news
2:00pm Friday 19th December 2014
BRIAN Howard’s situation at Oxford United is unclear after head coach Michael Appleton admitted he did not know whether the midfielder would be offered an extension to his short-term contract.
12:33pm Friday 19th December 2014
PIRI Weepu returns to the London Welsh starting line-up for tomorrow's Aviva Premiership fixture with Saracens at Allianz Park (KO 3pm).
12:00pm Friday 19th December 2014
JOSH Ashby is good enough to play in Oxford United’s side right now, but the teenager knows his time will come, according to head coach Michael Appleton.
9:40am Friday 19th December 2014
RONNIE Moore is braced for a tough first game in charge of Hartlepool United after comparing opponents Oxford United to Real Madrid.
9:30am Friday 19th December 2014
John Campbell admits it would be difficult to keep his kit on if he was able to make an impact on debut for Oxford United tomorrow.
Interactive match preview: Appleton and Hylton on goals; Moore likens United to Real Madrid; Howard's future; Ashby; club stalwart departs + video
9:34am Friday 19th December 2014
Get ready for kick-off with our interactive preview of Oxford United's trip to Hartlepool
9:10am Friday 19th December 2014
THERE were times earlier this season when it felt like Danny Hylton was scoring in every game, but Oxford United’s top scorer is not getting weighed down by a sudden barren run in front of goal.
9:00am Friday 19th December 2014
FINDING a predator to turn dominance into goals has been an Achilles’ heel for Oxford United this season, but Michael Appleton is hopeful two candidates will emerge over the festive period.
8:00am Friday 19th December 2014
ABOUT 150 supporters have taken advantage of Oxford United’s offer of free transport to tomorrow’s game at Hartlepool United.
7:30am Friday 19th December 2014
North Leigh boss Mark Gee admitted he is ‘wary’ of struggling Wantage Town as his side travel to Alfredian Park in Division 1 South & West of the Evo-Stik Southern League tomorrow, writes Matthew Bruce.