Cardiff may face fixture switch
January 6, 2000
Cardiff will consider switching Saturday's crunch Heineken Cup clash with Montferrand to Cardiff City's football ground if their own pitch proves unplayable.
The club are determined the televised tie will go ahead at their Arms Park ground, large parts of which have been left a muddy mess by heavy rain in South Wales.
Cardiff have heavily sanded the pitch and used a tractor to try and remove surface water having been forced to postpone a league fixture against Neath last Monday.
But with more rain forecast before the Pool 5 game, the club will look at other alternatives including a switch to Ninian Park despite the logistical problems involved in such a late move.
"If the pitch looks particularly bad then we might have to consider alternatives," said operations manager David Jenkins.
Chief coach Lynn Howells is desperate to retain home advantage as Cardiff bid to avenge their 46-13 thrashing by Montferrand and move above their French visitors to the top of the pool.
"If we take it away from our ground then it becomes an away game," said Howells. "It's such an important match that it's vital we play at home."
Cardiff have shrugged off a poor start to their group they were also held at home by Harlequins to move within one point of Montferrand following successive victories over Italian side Treviso.
But hooker Jonathan Humphreys, who has played in every European Cup game for Cardiff, cautioned: "Montferrand were the best side we have faced in Europe so far. There are no weaknesses.
"For the first 35 minutes in the first game they cut through us easily. They are rated to have the best pack in France and in the game with us showed they also have the best backs."
Welsh international lock Craig Quinnell has lost out to in-form team-mate Steve Moore, while Liam Botham, son of Ian, retains the right-wing berth after a series of fine displays this season.
"Steve is playing very well," added Howells. "But given the conditions, it's more about 22 players rather than 15 and most of the forwards will get on the field."
Cardiff: R Williams; L Botham, L Davies, G Thomas, N Walne; N Jenkins, R Howley; A Lewis, J Humphreys, D Young(capt), S Moore, M Voyle, D Baugh, E Lewis, M Williams. Replacements: R Powell, M Rayer, P Burke, G Kacala, C Quinnell, L Mustoe, S John.