Super Rugby
Force fume at 'farcical' fixture list
April 19, 2015
Force 6-13 Stormers (Australia only)
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Western Force coach Michael Foley has lashed out at SANZAR's "farcical" Super Rugby fixturing, saying he's mystified at his team's poor treatment.

The Force have been dealt one of the hardest draws in the competition this season, and they will be put to the ultimate test in Friday night's clash with the Chiefs in New Zealand. As if the 5366km trip and four-hour time difference weren't challenging enough, the six-day turnaround means the Force will only be able to squeeze in one full-throttle training session before facing one of Super Rugby's premier sides.

The Force were also dealt a tough hand to start the season. Five of their first seven games were away, with two of their first three fixtures featuring six-day turnarounds and travel. Foley says the heavy travel burden and short turnarounds won't be used as an excuse. But he wants SANZAR to give his team a fairer go in the future.

"SANZAR has a lot to be accountable for," Foley said. "The Western Force are one of 15 stakeholders, and I think the way the players are treated within the schedule is pretty shabby. The way SANZAR puts the draw together is a mystery - it makes no sense. It's farcical.

"There are some anomalies in the scheduling this year that you just have to shake your head at. That's something (Force chief executive) Mark Sinderberry will deal with SANZAR over time."

The Force tumbled to the bottom of the table following their 13-6 loss to the Stormers and the Queensland Reds' 18-17 triumph over the Cheetahs. If the Force lose to the second-placed Chiefs on Friday, it would equal their worst-ever losing streak of nine games set back in 2006. But the Force were desperately unlucky not to have come away with at least a draw against the Stormers on Saturday night.

The Force dominated possession and territory for most of the match, and almost scored a try in the 82nd minute - only for Dane Haylett-Petty to be held up over the line. Foley was proud of his team's efforts, and believed the wins would soon flow.

Stand-in skipper Sam Wykes appears destined for a stint on the sidelines after injuring his left foot against the Stormers. Wykes limped off in the 21st minute, with scans to determine the extent of the damage.

"It's been playing up for a few weeks now. I felt a sharp pain go through the bottom of it," Wykes said.

Regular skipper Matt Hodgson will make his long-awaited return against the Chiefs after recovering from pre-season hamstring surgery.


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