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The scoreless draw in England

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The bizarre reason why a seventh tier rugby match in England is making national headlines

A club match in the seventh tier of the English rugby pyramid wouldn’t normally attract nationwide headlines, but an encounter between Pinley Rugby Club and Sutton Coldfield side Spartans has done just that.

The two Midlands 2 West (South) sides played out a 0-0 draw at Wyken Croft in Coventry last week, an occurrence which is so rare that it has only happened seven times at international level since the end of the Second World War.

The last time a test match ended scoreless was in 2004, where African minnows Togo and Nigeria played out a 0-0 tie in an African Championship D2 fixture in Lome.

Prior to that, the next most recent scoreless stalemate came 47 years ago, when Italy and Portugal couldn’t register on the scoreboard in their 1972 meeting in Padova.

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Given how uncommon 0-0 draws are in rugby, questions are being asked of how neither Pinley nor Spartans couldn’t score any points last Saturday.

Nevertheless, Pinley president Gary Marks maintained to the BBC that the match – which featured six missed penalties, including one from right out in front, a yellow card and a dropped ball five metres from an open tryline – was a lot more entertaining than the scoreline suggests.

“The game had everything except points,” he said.

“We had a yellow card, all those missed penalties and one hit the post.

“The conditions weren’t actually that bad. It was cold but the rain held off and our pitch held up well. It was just that the two defences won the day.

“The people on social media saying it was dull obviously weren’t there.”

It isn’t the first time lower level English club rugby has made headlines this year, with Worcestershire club Bromsgrove capitalising on a two-man advantage to score 36 tries against South Leicester in a 240-0 thrashing in their fifth-tier Midlands Premier clash last month.

However, Pinley’s bizarre stalemate with Spartans sits at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

“It wasn’t a bad game at all,” Marks said. “But, if they’d played on for another 30 minutes, nobody would have scored. It was that kind of day.

“Spartans had three penalties in the last 15 minutes and missed them all. The last one hit the post and bounced back.

“It has to be said though, there was a lot of laughing at the final whistle among both sets of players and a good spirit.”

Marks said the result lifted Pinley out of the relegation zone, as they now sit in 10th place in the 12-team league with seven points from as many games.

Spartans lie one place above them on 11 points.

Both sides will be in action again this weekend, as Spartans host sixth-placed Silhillians, while Pinley will travel to Bob Coward Memorial Ground to take on fourth-placed Barkers Butt.

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The bizarre reason why a seventh tier rugby match in England is making national headlines