Cattle: Rugby needs a knockout cup
CORNISH Pirates coach Gavin Cattle has called for a FA Cup style knock-out tournament to replace the British & Irish Cup next season.
Currently there’s no confirmation from the RFU over what is to replace the B&I Cup for next season with a tournament featuring just Championship sides mooted, while others such as Richmond coach Steve Hill have called for the league to be expanded to 14 teams.
Cattle’s proposal would be along the lines of the B&I Cup’s predecessor, the then-called EDF National Trophy, which featured 118 clubs and ran between 2002 to 2009. Cattle told TRP: “I think any competition should be opened up as a national cup and give lower league clubs a crack while getting more people through the gates.
“I’m old school and like the idea of having a day-out fighting teams in a league above to achieve the dream like winning in the FA Cup in football. But we will have to just see what they do.”
However former scrumhalf Cattle is concerned over the possibility that Premiership A-teams could feature in any changed cup competition, giving too much influence to the top tier over their Championship counterparts.
He added: “It becomes complicated with dual-registered players – whether they play for the A-league side or where they’re on loan – while several teams in the Championship are reliant on dual-registration to make up squad numbers.
“The new cup could fall into the control of the Premiership sides and that’s not what you want.”
Cattle believes the removal of the play-offs in the Championship means a cup competition gives teams with no chance of promotion “still having something to be motivated for” near a season’s end.
The Penzance-based side have struggled with injuries this year, specifically in the front row where in November they drafted in hooker Danny Toolan from Cornwall and Devon League side, Pirates Amatuer, in the eighth tier.
Cattle confirmed they are looking to expand their squad by four players but need cup fixtures to make it viable, adding: “We need the games for the revenue otherwise we can’t afford a bigger squad.
“This season we’ve struggled in specialist positions. We’ve used five different hookers. We had to juggle bringing part-time players in and they did well but that’s not what you want.”