Guinness Premiership
Weather wreaks havoc on fixture list
January 9, 2010
Harlequins claim a lineout at a snow-covered Edgeley Park, Sale v Harlequins, Heineken Cup, Edgeley Park, December 20, 2009
Edgeley Park was also blanketed by snow in December © Getty Images

The cold snap has continued to wreak havoc on fixture lists, with a number of weekend fixtures in the Guinness Premiership and Magners League falling foul of the ice and snow currently blanketing much of the UK and Ireland.

The meeting between Leeds and Harlequins is the latest to be struck from the list, with the sides frustrated by a playable pitch at the Stoop but dangerous conditions making travel to and from the ground difficult.

Premiership leaders Saracens must wait for a chance to get their season back-on-track after their trip to face Sale was called off due to conditions surrounding Edgeley Park being too treacherous for fans, while Newcastle and Gloucester's showdown at Kingston Park suffered the same fate.

Bath requested a Premier Rugby pitch kit to ensure that their game with high-flying Northampton could go ahead at the Rec on Saturday, but deploying the covers and heaters proved difficult due to the heavy snowfall. The game was eventually called off by Premier Rugby after consultation, with clearing the snow "nearly impossible".

Worcester called on a dome to combat the cold ahead of the their meeting with London Irish but their efforts were in vain as referee Chris White called off the game due to frozen dead-ball areas.

Leicester have brought forward Saturday's showdown with arch-rivals Wasps from a 5.30pm kick-off to 3.15pm, despite the game being slated to be shown on television, and Worcester have done the same, moving their game against London Irish to 2.00pm.

"All parties have reluctantly agreed that under the circumstances and looking at the weather forecast, postponing the matches now is the best option for supporters, players and administrators," PRL rugby director Phil Winstanley said. "Snow and ice around Kingston Park and Edgeley Park make it potentially too dangerous for spectators and presents significant concerns for access for the emergency services.

"Under the expected conditions, it is likely that the matches would not gain safety certificates. We have all agreed that an early postponement is the best solution and we will now throw our resources behind the other four Guinness Premiership matches this weekend and hope that we can beat the weather."

In the Magners League, Ulster's clash with the Ospreys at Ravenhill is off due to the Belfast pitch being unplayable and Connacht have been forced to call off their home game for the second week in succession. Their meeting with the Dragons was scheduled for Friday night, but a combination of conditions in Galway and problems with the visitors' travelling arrangements have forced a postponement.

Leinster were unable to prevent Friday's visit of Glasgow from being postponed due to a frozen pitch, but Munster are confident that the Scarlets' visit to Musgrave Park will go ahead on Sunday. Should the pitch in Cork be unplayable the game will be moved to Limerick's Thomond Park pending an inspection. Musgrave is due for a final pitch inspection at 17.30 on Saturday, with Thomond currently unplayable and also awaiting another inspection.Edinburgh are confident that their game with Cardiff at Murrayfield will go ahead, having taken a delivery of road salt to ensure the ground is accessible.

Munster's scheduled clash with the Scarlets at Musgrave Park on Sunday has also been cancelled due to the precarious conditions surrounding the ground. The pitch had been covered by a 'warm air blanket' since yesterday morning at which stage officials were confident that the game would go ahead. However, overnight temperatures dropped to -9 and a further deterioration is expected tonight

Commenting on the situation Munster Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald said, "While our inspection this morning showed part of the pitch unplayable, the continuing use of the 'warm air blanket' would, in our opinion have left the pitch playable by 5pm tomorrow if conditions remained as they are now. However, given the forecast of lower temperatures and snow overnight, we felt it would be unfair to those travelling or planning to travel to leave a final decision until the morning and have therefore abandoned the idea of playing the game."


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