Declan Kidney doesn’t believe it is appropriate for Gallagher Premiership fans to be debating the points split system for cancelled games – even though London Irish have benefited in recent weeks following the call-off of their games on successive weekends.
The post-Christmas Irish matches at Bath and at home to Northampton were cancelled due to an outbreak in the London club’s ranks. However, unlike in Europe where the cancelled match points split has been 5-0, the teams at fault for cancellations in England have been less severely punished.
Premiership clubs have ruled that the team which causes the cancellation still gets two match points with the other team involved awarded four, a situation that has caused the league table to look very different to what it would be like if European rules were applied.
Irish are currently in tenth spot on nine points, a total that includes four points from the two Premiership match cancellations they were involved in. If the European criteria was applied, though, Irish would instead have just five points and would be bottom of the table rather than Gloucester who currently have six points from the five matches they have played.
Both Irish and Gloucester have had a single Premiership win each so far this season but with Irish handed four points for not playing matches compared to Gloucester, who have taken the field on every weekend, it suggests an anomaly in how the table is working.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 6, 2021
However, Kidney believes the height of the pandemic isn’t the right time to be debating these things even though five Premiership matches in total have been cancelled in recent weeks. “The points system, somebody had to come up with something,” said Kidney, speaking ahead of this Sunday’s return to action by Irish when they take on Harlequins.
“If you look at the European system it’s a 28-0, five points to nil in a four-round league. That is quite harsh. What is happening in the league here it has pulled everybody together. With a game being off this weekend as well (Northampton vs Leicester) it has different effects for different clubs. I have seen some of the comments and I have also been in touch with some of the people who have had Covid.
“I don’t think it is really appropriate when people are quite ill with a virus to be deflating a system that was agreed on by the powers that be [the clubs] before the season started. Everybody knew what they were getting into. I can complain about it but I don’t think that is the right thing to do.
“We would like to think with the way the virus is everybody knows that we live, train and play in the Surrey area which has a very high degree of virus floating around and it’s very contagious with this new variant. The prime minister has said it is 1/50 whereas in the London area it’s 1/30 people have it. Is this going to hit other clubs?
“It has hit other clubs in the past. You are hoping it won’t hit other clubs in the future. Will it balance out by the end of the year? Who is to know. The main thing is to get rid of it from a health and human point of view. From a rugby point of view, it could have an effect but it is actually wrong to be commenting on it from a purely rugby point of view.
“It’s swings and roundabouts in life and it’s how we react to that too rather than sitting around complaining about it. All I do know is we were highly frustrated in not being able to play last week (against Northampton) when we were good to go but we had a civic duty as much as a duty to our supporters and everything else which was why the call was made the way it was.”
"Do I understand why other people would say we need to do this because otherwise we might be financially struggling?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 7, 2021
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