Queries over Tetley's 'home' teams
February 29, 2000

The qualification process for the Tetley's Bitter Cup final has been called in to question by London Irish director of rugby Dick Best.

The problem arises from the way the winners of the semi-finals will be decided in the event of a draw.

The rules state that if scores are tied after 80 minutes extra time will be played. At the end of those extra 20 minutes, a countback will be done on tries and conversions. If a tie still exists the 'home' side will go through.

This is where Best calls foul. Both sem-finals will be played on the neutral ground that is the Madjeski Stadium in Reading, but the teams drawn first in the respective ties are deemed the home team.

"That seems daft," commented Best, "The whole point of a neutral venue is that the game should be decided on the pitch. Why move the goalposts like this? I intend airing my grievances. I would prefer a replay."

RFU spokesman Terry Burdwell said, "I appreciate that the provison for deciding the finalists in the event of a tie might seem unusual, but it was felt this was the best method of going forward."

Best also questioned the idea of the double-header, fearing a downpour would see the pitch cut up in the first game and ruined for his side in the second. The other coaches participating were not as pessimistic.

The ties will be played on April 8 with Bristol v Wasps at 1pm and Northampton v London Irish at 5pm.

Check out our Tetley's site here.

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