RICHMOND director of rugby Steve Hill has ridiculed claims that they would turn down promotion to the Championship on financial grounds.

Hill’s men are 13 points clear at the top of National League One ahead of this weekend’s visit of Ampthill, and have led the chasing pack since Christmas.

However, rumours circulated by the Plymouth Herald suggest Richmond would not take the step up because of the financial implications.

Hill said: “It is more like the Plymouth fairytale. We are working towards finishing top of the table, and if we do that, I can categorically say that Richmond will be in the Championship next season.

“We are also planning in case we don’t finish top, but at the moment we’re just concentrating on winning the title.”

He added: “I don’t know if it is the Herald trying to unsettle us, but we would take our place in the Championship.”

Hill welcomes back skipper Will Warden to the second row after a three-game absence, and despite his influence, the boss is expecting a tough affair.

“Ampthill are, like us, on a rich vein of form right now – they’ve won eight of the past 10 games,” he said.

“They are a big pack with at least five Tongan players who are back from injury, plus some guys on loan from London Scottish and Bedford.

“But we’ll prepare right and be ready, and the boys are confident that if they play to the level they can, they can win.”

He added: “Being top does mean we are there to be shot at, but we are a professional bunch and we should be able to handle that.”

Last time the sides met, Richmond ran out 46-10 winners in Ampthill’s own yard, thanks to a hat-trick of tries from Charlie Broughton and two from both Chris Davies and Tom Sargeant.

Richmond go into the game on the back of a 10-match unbeaten streak, culminating in the 8-6 win last time out at Blackheath.