English Club Rugby
Record league defeat declared void
January 26, 2009
A general view of a rugby ball, 1995
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Players/Officials: Darren Garforth
Teams: England

Minor league side Coventry Saracens won some unlikely praise after suffering an English league record defeat at the hands of rivals Alcester last Saturday, only for their names to be stricken from the record books as the RFU declared the result void.

Coventry Saracens, who count former England prop Darren Garforth amongst their playing alumni, were crushed 194-3 in Midlands Six West (South East) but they were forced to take the field with only eight players because of chronic selection problems.

Their depleted side included three specialist front forwards and another who was capable of playing in the front row which meant that the game was completed without recourse to uncontested scrums, but the laws of the game state that there must be five forwards in a scrum at all times.

"We dropped three forwards out of the scrum to make it five against three in the scrums but all credit to Coventry Saracens for honouring the fixture," said Alcester captain Scott Carmichael. "A lot of clubs would have cried off, but they turned up and insisted that the game went ahead so they deserve a lot of credit for doing that."

The Midlands Leagues Organising Committee has since declared the result void but also offered praise to the Coventry side's spirit.

"We have to say well done to Coventry Saracens for turning up and giving it a go," said Paul Kaminski, the MLOC chairman. "Had they put five players into the scrums instead of three they would have satisfied the Laws of the Game. But they require a minimum of five forwards in scrums at all times and so we have decided to declare the score null and void and award the two points to Alcester.

"We believe this is the fairest solution for all clubs in this league."

Alcester ran in 32 tries and were believed to have surpassed the previous highest score in a game in England, 177-3 set by Norwich in a Norfolk Cup match against Eccles & Attleborough 13 years ago.

But Alcester's points haul fell well short of the world record score of 350-0 set by French Third Division side Lavardac against Vergt in 1984. Vergt, who conceded 66 tries which were then valued at four points, offered only passive resistance in protest at having four players suspended. The previous week they were beaten 236-0 by Gujan Mestras in similar circumstances.

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