Ah, the romance of the cup, palpable in the air. The clichés are right there to be picked ripe from the tree: plucky underdogs and Davids and Goliaths. This year’s rugby Cuppers however doesn’t seem to be following the script. Snow and frost have hit all college sports hard this term, with a spate of cancelled games across the gamut from hockey to rugby; thus, the wipe-out of the first round of cuppers rugby left OURFC in a bind.
The captains were offered two solutions, either playing the first two rounds in fifth week or subcontracting the deciding of the first round games to a mysterious ‘pooling committee’ (ignoring the precedent of two years ago where everything was simply pushed back a week, with the final being played at the start of Trinity). The powers-that-be plumped for the second option, and thus thirteen sides found themselves knocked out of the cup without having played a minute’s rugby.
Hardly satisfactory and a quite bizarre way to settle games – quite what the point of early rounds are if giant-killing opportunities are going to be smoothed over I’m not sure. The only comparable example that comes to mind is Texas high school football (cf. Friday Night Lights) where a coin toss is sometimes used to decide things, but at least there the odds are equal.
As a problem for the tournament it is compounded by the trend of strongish sides forfeiting early Cuppers games to get a crack at some silverware in the weaker Plate and Bowl competitions (four out of eight second round Cuppers games this week saw forfeits). This means that this year the true minnows have been booted out of Cuppers without a game to find themselves up against opposition several gears too talented for them in the supposedly secondary competition. Something for Jackdaw Lane to think about, perhaps.