St Ives RFC vent fury at Cornwall Cup KO
ST IVES have expressed their anger and disappointment at being kicked out of this season's Tribute Cornwall Cup.
Saturday's final at Penryn will take place between Camborne and Wadebridge Camels after the Cornwall RFU competitions committee handed the Camels a walkover in their semi-final tie against St Ives.
It meant both finalists got to the last stage of the cup without playing their semi-finals, with Camborne also getting a walkover against Bude.
The cup organisers took the decision to axe St Ives with time running out to stage their tie and arrangements all in place for Saturday's final.
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But St Ives feel they have been very badly treated and unfairly portrayed and blamed for a situation they believe was beyond their control.
The tie was originally scheduled to take place on February 16, but was moved to March 16, with re-arranged league games taking precedent.
That match was called off because of a waterlogged pitch, though there are conflicting versions over who was to blame for that postponement.
St Ives felt they could not raise a side to play the day after as they had players involved with Cornwall under-20s or who had other prior commitments; and were unable to raise a front row for a match under lights at St Austell last Wednesday. Last Sunday was also suggested, but neither team wanted to play as it would have meant two matches in two days, with important league games the previous day.
St Ives suggested Tuesday of this week at St Austell, but the Saints' ground was not available, and the Hakes believe not enough effort was put into finding an alternative venue.
Hakes head coach Joff Rowe said: "We feel we have been treated unfairly, and almost disrespectfully.
"We are very disappointed and quietly upset at what has happened, based on the time and effort we put into it, and the belief the Cornwall committee were supporting our attempts to get this game played. We have been given no explanation for their decision, and that is our frustration.
"We don't want a slanging match, but we are a professional outfit, and what frustrates me is that we have been wrongly perceived as a side that didn't want to play on the day, and then didn't want to fulfil any of the possible alternatives laid in front of us in a competition that is very dear to us."
Explaining the course of events, Rowe said: "I was unavailable to travel on March 16, but I am told the pitch was inspected by the two skippers and the referee, and my skipper, Ben Taylor, is absolutely adamant both captains felt the pitch was unfit for play, and by all accounts, the referee went on Radio Cornwall and said the game had been rightly called off.
"We did not have a side number wise to play the following day and we were offered Wednesday evening at St Austell, but the Rosslyn Park Sevens and Bath Tens were taking place that week, so I lost four or five Truro College lads to that, and of my front row forwards, two were working and one was playing in a band, which he does every Wednesday night.
"Both clubs then agreed Sunday was not a suitable day for either of them."
He added: "We were ready to play the following Tuesday, even though we only had 17 players available, but were told St Austell's pitch was no longer available, and then last Thursday we had a text to say we had been removed from the cup after a Cornwall committee meeting."
Cornwall RFU chairman Denis Preece said: "The competitions committee met on Wednesday night and discussed the matter, and felt St Ives had three chances to play the game, and on three occasions had pulled out."
He fears problems over staging cup ties will continue, as long as there are 14-team leagues.
"Having a final between two teams who have not played a semi-final to get there is a sad state of affairs, but we have got a final to play.
"I didn't have a crystal ball to tell me that bad weather was coming that would result in league games being called off, which would mess up our cup dates, and the league takes precedent over the Senior Cup.
"With 14-team leagues, there is little spare room for manoeuvre to do anything else, and I foresee we will have difficulties in the future, but there is no easy answer."