Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen has blasted the RFU as "absurd" after their panel of blazered buffoons tied themselves in knots by excluding the J.P.Morgan Asset Management 7s and pre-season trip to Geneva where we face Montpellier from its reduction in head coach Richard Cockerill's ban. The RFU have ruled that these games aren't "meaningful".
I'm sure that will go down well at J.P. Morgan to know that the RFU consider their support of our great game to be meaningless.
I'm sure it will also help the game in Switzerland to know that a game between two Heineken Cup group rivals, just 7 days before the start of the Top 14 season, is also as meaningless as a game of jumpers for trylines in the park.
I've already written about the stupidity of banning someone for saying the word "fuck" in conversation so won't go over that again.
But the RFU really does plumb new depths of incompetence with every stroke. The RFU have decided that the J.P. Morgan 7s and the Montpellier game are meaningless jollies (of which to be fair they have ample experience) because they "will not involve six British Lions players or South Pacific players". So on that basis the LV Cup will be excluded from any future bans as none of our international players play in that?
But wait! In the initial hearing the RFU used a quote from Cockerill that the LV Cup was a "mickey mouse cup with mickey mouse refereeing" to damn him as insolent. So which is it? Are games without your internationals meaningful or not? It seems to me that the RFU is having its cake and eating it too.
When it wants to harm Cockerill and the Tigers games without your internationals are worthy of their consideration but when that attitude should benefit you they volte face and decide in fact no, only "proper" First XV games count. And they decide what is a First XV game. Very fair. Very impartial.
The Montpellier fixture is the only pre-season game to be deemed worthy of broadcast on TV, and again from the initial hearing we know how important the "image" of the game is to the watching "millions" of fans. But again the RFU change their tune when it becomes clear that the dastardly villain in front of them might possibly gain from their own self important opinions.
The Blazers cover themselves in glory again when they describe the Ulster and Jersey games as significant because they are "before paying spectators". Perhaps any Tigers fan who has a ticket to tonight's 7s should email the RFU (email@example.com, we know how much they love emails these days) with an invoice as they have clearly been mistakenly charged for this event which is obviously meant to be completely free to enter.
The Montpellier match in Geneva is charging as much as £280.00, to the Blazered Old Farts that might be pocket change but to anyone in the real world that is clearly a large amount for what is a premium game between two of Europe's powerhouses.
On the BBC Radio Leicester "Leicester Tigers Rugby Hour" (Link here), Ian Cockerill (no relation) suggests that the RFU's conduct has been so disgraceful that Tigers could report them to the Bar Standards Board for censure under the Human Rights act. Frankly nothing would make me happier than seeing the reaction of all the London tory toffs to Tigers using their bete noir of the Human Rights Act to get one over on the stuffed shirts in Twickenham.
Clearly any rational justice system would include ALL the pre-season games, as for example Calum Clarke's, Dylan Hartley's or Neil Back's bans at various points did, rather than pick and choose the games in order to justify banning Cockerill from the Heineken Cup. Unfortunately we don't have rational justice; we have the kind of traditional British justice that brought us the Guildford 4. For shame RFU.
Full Appeal Document here.