RUGBY UNION: Exiles are back where they belong, says Burnell

We're back! London Welsh and coach Justin Burnell celebrate

We're back! London Welsh and coach Justin Burnell celebrate

First published in Rugby Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

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.

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