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Steve Diamond brands European clash with Lyon a 'shocker'

By Chris Jones
Joe Batley of Worcester Warriors stands dejected at the final whistle during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bath Rugby and Worcester Warriors at The Recreation Ground (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Steve Diamond admits arranging Worcester Warriors European Challenge Cup last 16 match in Lyon has been a “shocker” as it clashes with West Ham’s Europa League second leg in the city tonight.

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As a result, flights have been hard to arrange with the players and management having to be booked onto two different flights from Heathrow while Diamond is heading to France from Manchester. Worcester only discovered the day and kick-off time of their match on Sunday.

Diamond was left fuming after the 45-10 loss to Newcastle in the Premiership describing it as “a wholly pathetic performance” and while he now believes the remnants of a recent Covid outbreak were a factor, Worcester have to front up against a Lyon side on Friday night that includes captain Jordan Taufua, Josua Tuisova, Dylan Cretin, Charlie Ngatai and Lima Sopoaga.

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Diamond admits the build up to the Lyon match has been far from ideal and said: “ It’s been a bit of shocker but there is no point whinging about it and we are on our way. I think they are going to have to look at the format of the competition and no doubt they are doing that. We can only give it our best shot and I can tell you one thing we won’t be doing is box kicking and we are going to have a go. Games in the Premiership are not that exciting at the moment and only Harlequins are setting things on fire and that is the way to follow and play a bit of rugby.

“The players had a week off coming off the Newcastle game which was the right thing to happen and then we were in limbo until Saturday night not knowing if we were playing or not.

You have to throw into the mix that West Ham are playing in Lyon tonight and so there wasn’t a readily available source of flights and so the team manager and players left from Heathrow, I am going from Manchester and other staff will go from Heathrow later tonight. It is a challenge and we have got nothing to lose because I didn’t expect us to be in this knock out stage.

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“Lyon are playing well and have a massive pack but as we have shown in beating Sale, Exeter, Wasps and Bristol if we get it right we have a chance.”

Diamond believes the Covid problems and injuries that forced the cancellation of their game with Gloucester on March 25 were still a factor in the loss to Newcastle. He added: “We need to put a bit of pride in the jumper following Newcastle not withstanding the fact that having looked at the fixture we probably shouldn’t have played that fixture with the remnants of the Covid illness we had. We didn’t’ know the magnitude of the effect on the players.”

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