London Welsh managing director John Taylor said they remain “very hopeful” of playing in the Premiership in Ox-ford next season.

Speaking ahead of the Championship final second leg against Cornish Pirates at the Kassam Stadium, the Wales and British Lions legend urged local fans to back their bid.

London Welsh were told by the RFU’s board of directors last week that they would be ineligible for promotion even if they beat Pirates, over whom they hold a 37-21 first-leg lead.

The main reason was because they would not have ‘primacy of tenure’ for the ground-share, despite clubs like Wasps, Saracens and London Irish being in the same position.

The Exiles have pledged to fight the decision.

Taylor said: “The message is that we are very hopeful of being here next year. We are fighting like hell.

“We have been going through this process with the RFU and we have been led to believe to a great extent that we have been jumping hurdles.

“We are still waiting for clarification on where they say we have fallen down. We are pretty confident that we can have an answer for every question.

“I wouldn’t say that I am absolutely confident that we will be in the Premiership next year, but we have signed a contract to play here next season, if we do get promoted, and our big thing is to turn Oxford into London Welsh.”

Taylor added: “If everybody does turn out and we prove that there is a really good core support here, that will go further towards our decision to stay here permanently.

“The enthusiasm that we have had from this area has really boosted us to. We have loved it.”

Captain Jon Mills said: “The boys are really excited about playing here.

“It is a quality stadium, so we are really happy to come here and hopefully put on a show for everyone.”

Head coach Lynn Jones said: “It is exciting to know there is a market of local people in Oxford who are crying out for professional rugby to come onto their doorstep.”

Lock Martin Purdy comes into the Exiles’ starting XV tonight (May 30, 7.45).

Purdy replaces Lee Beach as the only change from their first-leg victory, while captain Mills moves from lock to blindside flanker.

Phil Burgess moves from the back row to centre for Pirates, with Dave Ward taking the open-side berth and Rob Elloway selected at hooker.

London Welsh: Davies, Scott, J Lewis, Tonga’uiha, Ajuwa, Ross, R Lewis, Lahiff, George, Tideswell, Purdy, Corker, Mills (capt), Denbee, Jackson.

Reps: Ma’asi, Moss, Bateman, Beach, Russell, Moates, Jewell.

Cornish Pirates: Cook, Pointer, Burgess, Suniula, Doherty, Thomas, Cattle (capt), Marriott, Ward, Ewers, Nimmo, McGlone, Paver, Elloway, Rimmer.

Reps: Storer, Myerscough, Maidment, Kessell, Cooper, Evans, McAtee.