Barum hope to avoid county cup clash

Joseph Bulmer

BARNSTAPLE RFC are hoping to avoid a clash with Devon over their county cup semi-final against Exmouth after being hit by a second postponement in National Three South West.

Barum were due to face Chippenham at Pottington Road on Saturday, but that game was called off after the Wiltshire side arrived because of a deterioration in conditions.

“When Chippeham set off the pitch was fine, but by the time they arrived it had rained and then frozen,” said Barnstaple’s director of rugby Kevin Squire.

“Not enough players on either side were happy enough to play so we called it off.

“The problem we have now is both free dates this month are filled by re-arranged league games. We already had one to fit in against Old Redcliffians, which is this Saturday.

“Chippenham will come to us on February 25 now, which is when we were going to play Exmouth.

“When we are going to fit in Exmouth, I cannot say. The final is supposed to be on March 18, but there are no more free Saturdays between now and then. In the past, Devon have asked us to play twice in one weekend to get games played on time and we have gone along with it. That won’t be happening again.”

Devon RFU have traditionally been firm about sticking to fixed cut-off dates in cup matches, which has brought them into conflict with clubs.

Squire urged the competitions committee to relax their stance this season as time isn’t a problem.

“The cup final is in mid-March, which is about a month earlier than usual and there are free dates after that we could play on,” said Squire.

“If we are told we have to play on a Sunday after a hard league game the day before, we will be chucking it in.

“The physicality of games at our level is very high and it is unfair to ask players to turn out two days running.

“If we put out a second team, all that does is de-value the competition. The senior cup is the flagship competition – all the players and coaches want to win it – and the clubs in it need to be united on this if it is to remain so.”