Penalty shoot-out under review
May 5, 2009
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill consoles Cardiff Blues' Martyn Williams following the Tigers' penalty shoot-out victory © Getty Images
European Rugby Cup chiefs are to carry out a review into the penalty shoot-out system that decided the Heineken Cup semi-final between Leicester and Cardiff Blues.
The Tigers' booked a place in this season's final with a 7-6 victory in the first shoot-out in the tournament's 14-year history that enthralled fans who had witnessed the two sides battle to a 26-26 after extra time. But the controversial ending to the game immediately sparked a debate about the use of such a system with many demanding it is scrapped.
Derek McGrath, the chief executive of European Rugby Cup, has promised a review into the shoot-out method of deciding game.
"We regularly look at every aspect of the competition as a matter of course and we are well aware that there are some widely differing views on penalty shoot-outs," McGrath told the Daily Telegraph. "This is the first time we have ever witnessed one in the raw at senior level and we will examine closely how it all went.
"We have already given the matter great thought over the years and considered it from every angle. Our season structure and the physical nature of top-level rugby simply does not allow for replays and does anybody really want a match decided on the toss of a coin? It surely has to be decided on the pitch somehow.
"We have also seriously considered a 'golden try', a first points on the board scenario, in sudden death extra time, but that is heaping huge pressure on the referees and the physical capabilities of players. Serious injuries are much more frequent when players are exhausted. We have also looked at the idea of bringing players off from each team at set intervals as you progress through extra time but we believe that alters the nature of the game too much.
"At one time we looked a slightly more complicated shoot-out scenario, along the lines of those regulations the IRB and Rugby World Cup have in place. In that you start with one kick in front of the posts on the 22 and then move the next kicks out to 15-metre line, right and left, before the next kick returns to in front of the posts. And so on in rotation until the five players have kicked or until you get a result."
Even Leicester chief executive Peter Wheeler expressed his disatisfaction with the resolution to the game.
"Let's not get involved in the blame game here because this was unchartered territory for rugby and we are all learning, but I found that very uncomfortable to watch,"Wheeler told the newspaper. "I lost interest very early on and could scarcely look. In rugby, above all games, you win together or lose together. It just didn't feel right.
"Just imagine if it had gone on for a couple more kicks. For all I know Martin Castrogiovanni or Gethin Jenkins might be useful goal-kickers, but almost certainly not, and how humiliating and illogical it would have been for two of the best in the world at what they do, having to decide a European Cup semi-final by attempting something that they never do"
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