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AIB League Central: Mud, Glorious Mud

AIB League Central: Mud, Glorious Mud

So how was it for you? Some of the worst weather in recent memory greeted the first weekend of AIB League action in 2009 but thankfully only seven of the 24 fixtures down for decision last Saturday and Sunday had to be postponed or abandoned.

The meeting of Munster heavyweights, Cork Constitution and Shannon, fell foul of the weather, while the Buccaneers v Galwegians and St. Mary’s College v Garryowen games had to be abandoned.

There were unimaginable scenes at Dubarry Park where a broken crossbar prompted the abandonment of the Connacht derby clash of Buccs and ‘Wegians after just 17 minutes. Gale-force winds and driving rain lashed the Athlone venue but referee Richard Kerr deemed the pitch playable and Buccs, with the elements behind them, nudged 6-0 ahead.

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As Buccaneers PRO Michael Silke explains, a premature ending was just around the corner. “The wooden crossbar came adrift from an upright. The referee had no option but to stop play.

“He apparently granted the home club ten minutes to repair the damage but this was not possible and, with the match officials rightly deeming the ‘top’ pitch unplayable (the only other pitch with floodlights), the referee abandoned the game.

“Ironically, the sun shone brightly soon afterwards and the breeze died considerably, but Buccs were unable to capitalise on the elements on this occasion.”

In Division Two, three matches failed to go ahead with Ballynahinch v Highfield, Belfast Harlequins v Clonakilty and Old Crescent v Bective Rangers all called off.

Adding to the headaches for the fixture planners, Sunday’s Division Three meeting of Sundays Well and Nenagh Ormond was postponed.

Reflecting on his side’s 3-3 Division Two draw with Thomond at College Park, Dublin University director of rugby Tony Smeeth said the conditions had to be seen to be believed.

“In the 11 years I have been involved with the club, these were the worst conditions I have seen in College Park – and I have seen a few,” he said.

“Due to a strong gusting horizontal wind and rain straight across the pitch, almost the entire game was played on the one touchline in front of the subs’ benches. Only one lineout took place on the other touchline.
Rarely did any phase of play have more than one pass.”

It might not have been pretty but even on days like last Saturday; club rugby can shine in spite of what Mother Nature at you. Spare a thought for the jersey washers!