Sunday Sun - - Rugby -

Pe­dro Bet­ten­court of New­cas­tle Fal­cons tack­les Bill Mata of Ed­in­burgh Rugby in the Cham­pi­ons Cup and left, Fal­cons’ Chris Har­ris wanted to give as many of the boys who played out in Toulon an­other chance, but their op­por­tu­ni­ties have been thwarted partly due to bu­reau­cracy. Fair dues to Sam and Sami. They said they’d give it a go at tight-head, and if they felt there was any in­jury or safety is­sue they’d make it known and go to un­con­tested. To be fair they stuck at it, but it’s a ridicu­lous sce­nario when you lose three tight-heads in 24 hours and you’re not al­lowed to bring some­one else in.

“Right up until an hour be­fore kick­off we were say­ing to EPCR that we’ve got a con­tracted tight-head who is fit and is at the sta­dium, and that the al­ter­na­tive was play­ing a loose-head who a num­ber of years ago has played a lit­tle bit of tight-head at a much lower level. Why is it al­lowed to hap­pen?

“For the in­tegrity of the game and the com­pe­ti­tion the boys said they’d give it a go, and I re­spect them for that, but it’s not a nice po­si­tion to be in. You would have thought that com­mon sense would have pre­vailed from EPCR’s point of view. I rang [Ed­in­burgh coach] Richard Cock­er­ill and ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion to him, he said he didn’t want the game to go to un­con­tested scrums but ul­ti­mately it wasn’t his de­ci­sion. EPCR should have al­lowed us to reg­is­ter Jack Payne who is a spe­cial­ist tight-head, and that was the sim­ple op­tion. Hav­ing said all that, Ed­in­burgh are a re­ally good team who are packed with Scot­tish in­ter­na­tion­als and it was al­ways go­ing to be a chal­lenge. I thought our young­sters ac­quit­ted them­selves re­ally well on the night and we’ll see where we are for next week.

“Toby Flood was sat on the bench nurs­ing an in­jury, which wasn’t ideal, and I was glad in the end that I didn’t have to bring him on. He could have done with not be­ing out there, and we’ve come through rel­a­tively un­scathed in terms of new prob­lems.”


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