KEIGHLEY RUFC’s director of rugby Russ Gibson has confirmed the club will not be promoted from Counties One Yorkshire.

It is a real shame for Bradford District side, whose dramatic 30-25 win on the final day over apparent promotion rivals Beverley looked to have sent them up as runners-up alongside runaway champions Goole.

But a Rugby Football Union restructure meant several clubs were uncertain of their fate come the end of the season, and while Keighley head coach Dan McGee hoped second place would be enough for promotion, sadly Gibson has confirmed that is not the case.

He told the Keighley News: “I was at an RFU meeting regarding the new tackle height (which has controversially been lowered) and I was able to speak to one of the guys there, who is an RFU councillor that deals with the placement of teams in leagues.

“He confirmed that the winners of each of the 18 leagues across the country at our level (Level 7), would be promoted, along with the six best runners-up in those divisions.

“That was determined by overall points total, and we didn’t fit that criteria sadly, as we weren’t one of the top six second-placed sides.”

The final-day game against Beverley, rearranged after the initial clash was abandoned late on due to a refereeing injury, seemed to be a case of winner-takes-all, with Keighley’s wild celebrations at the final whistle reflecting that.

It seems a bit of a sickener to now find out that encounter was essentially meaningless, with Gibson saying: “We went into the game not knowing what would happen at the end of the season other than that the champions would definitely go up.

“We just had to push for second place in the final few weeks, then hope for positive news from the RFU regarding promotion.”

Gibson added: “I would hope that the RFU look at this.

“It’s the first year of the restructure, so it’s a learning curve for everyone, but I hope the powers that be take this on board, so teams don’t have to wait until the end of the season to know what the promotion and relegation situation is.”

But Gibson is staying positive, saying: “We’ve exceeded expectations, and adapted the aims we had in the early part of the season.

“We initially aimed for a top-half finish, but after a few weeks, we felt we could do really well given our results.

“We’re disappointed not to get promoted and obviously prior to the restructure, we’d have at least had the chance to go up via the play-offs.

“But the players, coaches and the whole club should be proud of what they’ve achieved this season.”

Tragically, the club is in mourning at present, after the deaths of much-loved third-team captain Sam Walker and popular 51-year-old member Kate Metcalfe over the last couple of weeks.

Gibson reflected: “We’ve lost two fabulous people in Sam and Kate.

“Sam has been highlighted as a character and great person by our chairman Graham Sheffield on the club website.

“After many years in our first team, we were delighted to welcome him back the other year as captain of the thirds.

“He’ll be greatly missed by the lads and the club.”

He added: “Kate was such a character of the club herself and everyone who knew her would get a hug and a smile off her.

“She’d have done anything for others too, and she’ll be sadly missed.

“My heart goes out to her husband Jason, mum Janet and dad Bob.”