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What draw specialists Irish make of Premiership golden point idea

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jon Bromley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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London Irish boss Declan Kidney has admitted he would need to put a little more thought into the suggestion by Curtis Rona that a Gallagher Premiership match should go into overtime in order to produce a winner on the day if it ends in a draw after 80 minutes. The Exiles have become the draw specialists of English rugby, drawing three of their eight Premiership matches this season while they also drew two other league games earlier in 2021. 

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They have all been dramatic, high scoring affairs. It was last January when London Irish came from behind to draw 27-all at Harlequins, while a second-half surge also netted them a share of the spoils in a 34-all home draw with Bristol the following month. Switching to this season, the Irish have battled out 31-all, 25-all and 34-all draws versus Sale, Gloucester and Saracens respectively, again coming from behind in all three of those matches to clinch equality.

A veteran of the NRL in Australia, where overtime is used to ensure a winner is declared on the day in the event of a draw at full-time, London Irish midfielder Rona recently told RugbyPass he would be in favour of some method being introduced into the Premiership so that matches stop ending in draws.      

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Guess the celebrity Rose | Karen Carney | England Rugby
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Guess the celebrity Rose | Karen Carney | England Rugby

“Fans want to see a winner. If we had a vote, I’d vote for it,” enthused the ex-Wallabies international. “I’d probably say it must be a try. A lot of teams would say just points because you get a penalty and kick for goal and that is the game, but a golden try would be amazing for this league. 

“Look at what they have done with the 50:22, which is awesome for attacking players. The whole dimension of rugby has changed now. People have to resort to dropping their back three to cover for those 50:22s, and it [a golden point] would make the game more exciting. People want to see winners.”

It was in 2012 when Kidney, the then Ireland boss, infamously described a draw in the Six Nations versus France as “like kissing your sister”. Nine years later, RugbyPass reminded the current London Irish coach of this quote but he admitted he hadn’t thought all that much about a solution to his team’s extraordinary glut of Premiership draws. “It depends which draw you were asking about. There were some draws I was happy to get and there were some draws I was happy thinking, yeah, give me another five minutes… Would I like that? I think I’d bow to Curtis’ experience of it. I don’t have the experience of going down to that extra (time) one. 

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“I’m not sitting on the fence, I just don’t have the experience of it and in a league campaign of 22 matches, there is going to be a few draws here and there anyway. If it got to ridiculous stages, I would investigate it a little bit more but would I be sorry if it [a tiebreaker] came in? I’d have to see how it would work. Is it the first score, is it a case of who wins the toss? I don’t know but if that [tiebreak] is the experience of Curtis and other lads, I’d back them.

“Our last draw was Saracens and you were kicking to draw the match, your supporters couldn’t be happier. The previous draw against Gloucester, they came right back into it when we had the lead (before it finished with Irish getting late points to draw)… we’re still picking up points and that is sometimes what you have to do – you are not going to win a league before Christmas but you can certainly lose it. 

“It’s just a really good, competitive league. I’m not just talking it up because I work in it. What it has going for it is any team can beat any team on any given day. There are no done deals before the matches start. I know there have been some scores where a team has gotten away on them but by and large that [competitiveness] is the excitement of the whole league and it is a really impressive league to be involved in.”

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