4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
There was even the ludicrous suggestion - put about by a Leicester source - that the danger existed of the game being moved to Ireland.
So what's it all about ?
Well, following long-drawn out negotiation by ERC, Leicester, eventually agreed, to supply Munster with the 4000 tickets for the Heineken Cup quarter-final at Welford. Under the terms of the participation agreement, the visiting club is entitled to 25% of ground capacity for its supporters. All along, however, Leicester chose to interpret the clause in the agreement differently to everyone else. Then, with the threat of having the fixture moved to another venue they finally agreed, and on March 6th, Tigers Managing Director, David Clayton said. "We have notified ERC on several occasions that we will be able to comply with the terms of the participation agreement. They have advised us that Munster require 4000 tickets. That was yesterday (Wednesday March 5th), the first time they had a put a figure on it. Although that is not our interpretation of the ticketing requirements we have informed ERC that we will be supplying that quantity of tickets."
Given that the participation agreement states 25% of tickets must be made available to the visiting club; and given that the capacity at Welford Road, according to the official Heineken Cup handbook, is 16,807; and allowing for ERC's ticket requirement. Why then the confusion over the amount of tickets required by Munster. But besides Leicester's difficulty with subtraction and division, there is also the communication they received from Munster (letter January 28th) that they (Munster) would be taking up their full entitlement.
And now we have this latest twist whereby Leicester are asking people to return tickets to "keep the game at Welford Road."
On Friday 28th February, the following message was posted on the official Leicester website. We are currently processing applications from our members and these tickets will be available for collection from March 3rd. There will be no tickets available on general sale for this match."
On March 7th when Leicester agreed to comply with the competition regulations, they stated (Leicester Mercury) that they could do so because they were, fortunate that only 11,800 of their 13,000 members bought tickets for the game.
But there are questions that Leicester have to ask of themselves.
On their website, they report that they have banned two supporters from buying tickets for life after they were caught trying to sell tickets at an inflated rate for the showdown on April 13. They are also investigating three further cases of touting on the Internet.
Now, it might be safe to asume that if they are aware of five cases of touting, there must be others that they are not aware of. So, if they haven't sold tickets to the public then how are the tickets getting into the hands of the touts ?
Why did they continue to distribute tickets to senior management staff and players supporters, - who now we are told are returning 'tickets' - knowing as they did that ERC would insist on them honouring the participation agreement ? Unless of course they believed that ERC would back-down.
Last Tuesday David Clayton was quoted in the Leicester Mercury saying, ""We know that supporters have been offering holidays in exchange for tickets just so they can see the game, which shows how desperate people are to be at the match."
That these people and thousands of Munster supporters will not be at the match is totally down to Leicester. And that their senior management now seem to be making a virtue of returning tickets they really shouldn't have had in the first place is insulting to the two groups of supporters.