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Redman calls for changes to Amlin Challenge Cup pool stages
11:20am Friday 18th January 2013 in Sport
KNOWING you’re out of a competition before you take to the field is an odd situation to be in.
Yet, that is the scenario Worcester Warriors will be faced with when they tackle Gernika in their final Amlin Challenge Cup pool match at Sixways tomorrow.
Assuming Rovigo didn’t pull off one of the greatest shocks of all time at Perpignan last night, the French Top 14 side will qualify for the quarter-finals by virtue of having the better head-to-head record against Warriors.
So, despite the cricket score that Worcester will almost certainly rack up against the Spaniards — they won by 80 points in the Basque country in October — it will all be for nothing.
Of course, the Sixways club knew this before a ball was kicked but it can’t make it any less frustrating, particularly as they go into the final round of fixtures with a superior points scored/conceded difference of 38.
Qualification was effectively always going to come down to the two matches against Perpignan and Warriors lost by just six points on aggregate.
With the gulf in class between the duo and Rovigo and Gernika making the matches virtual walkovers, it makes you question the competition’s format and, indeed, integrity.
What do the European minnows get out of being regularly roundly thrashed? More pertinently, what do Warriors get out of it? Scoring try after try certainly doesn’t get them anywhere or they’d be the ones progressing.
With this in mind, Sixways forwards coach Nigel Redman holds the opinion that if you play Rovigo and Gernika, your results against them should be taken into account.
“We would like it to be over six games in the future rather than how you fare against the side you are equal on points with because it was always going to be tight between us and Perpignan,” he said.
“Why can’t we have it over six games? That looks at the competition Rovigo and Gernika throw up as well. There are four teams in the league.
“It’s not a big issue, we knew what the score was at the start. It’s not something that I’m angry about but it would just be nice to have it over six games.”
He added: “These groups are thrown together and I would like them to be as competitive as they can be.
“It was exciting when we saw Perpignan in the group because that is a thrilling fixture. When we’re looking at where we are in Europe, it’s important that we play against Perpignan.
“As for the Gernika and Rovigo games, we don’t choose who we play, it’s up to us to be as professional as we possibly can be and make sure we get things from those games.”