Best attacks "brutal" fixture schedule
January 30, 2000

Rival bosses Dick Best and Dean Richards united to condemn English rugby's
fixture schedule after rampant London Irish inflicted a record cup defeat on
Leicester at The Stoop.

With both clubs playing their third high-octane game in a week, it was
Leicester whose oxygen supply ran out, collapsing 47-7 and failing to book a
traditional Tetley's Bitter Cup quarter-final place.

But Irish rugby director Best leapt to the Tigers defence, sympathising with
them after what he termed a "brutal week of rugby".

"God only knows why we are playing three games in seven days the week before
the Six Nations Championships starts," he said.

"Someone somewhere must be accountable. It must never happen again - players
are fitter and stronger now, the collisions harder and the knocks greater, so recovery time takes longer."

Leicester's England flanker Neil Back was a spent force before half-time,
leaving the field exhausted after trademark lung-busting efforts in Premiership victories over Saracens and Wasps last week.

Austin Healey followed him, although Richard believes a "slight dead leg"
injury will not prevent him from lining up for England in next Saturday's Six
Nations opener against Ireland at Twickenham.

"How England prepare for that game is going to be very, very interesting.
They are going to have to be extremely careful, because there are guys out there who are dead on their feet," Best added.

Richards agreed, stating: "I feel sorry for the players more than anything -
my heart goes out to the England boys."

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