Magners chiefs yearn for culinary controversy
May 28, 2010
Magners League officials are desperate to create their own 'biscuitgate' © PA Photos
Magners League officials are desperately trying to stir up a major controversy prior to this weekend's inaugural Grand Final in Dublin.
Sponsors and organisers of the Celtic competition are furious that the majority of the mainstream press media coverage leading up to this weekend's rugby action, which sees the finals of the Guinness Premiership and Magners League take place, is focusing on the behaviour and possible bans of the two head coaches in the Leicester v Saracens clash at Twickenham.
In particular, countless column inches have been devoted to the behaviour of Saracens' director of rugby Brendan Venter after he was handed a 14-week touchline ban by the RFU for his actions at a recent match against Leicester. Venter was found guilty of making provocative gestures to the crowd after supporters complained about him blocking their view of the game.
Furthermore, the RFU did not take kindly to Venter's attitude at his subsequent disciplinary hearing. The South African was accused of both eating biscuits and throwing sweet wrappers with 'disdain' as the meeting took place. The affair has been dubbed 'biscuitgate' by the rugby community.
Further fanning the flames prior to the weekend, Leicester coach Richard Cockerill was also facing a possible ban from the big match after his conduct during his team's semi-final against Bath, although he escaped with a slap on the wrist.
"Money can't buy that kind of publicity" said an unnamed source on the Magners League committee. "Everyone in our target market is talking only about the Saracens and Leicester clash. That's not what we want. We have to do something to reenergise the buzz around the Ospreys - Leinster game. It's the first ever Magners final, for crying out loud. We need to get it into the news. Can't someone in Wales or Ireland do something to spark some more interest?
"We need to raise public awareness of the match, raise our profile. At present we just can't compete with the level of interest in the biscuit affair in England. We are trying all sorts of things to develop and raise the awareness of our first Grand Final but none of them seem to be working.
"It's all very well trying to promote the match as a cross country Celtic clash; or as the fabulous end product of a league with more internationals, Grand Slam winners and Lions stars than the Guinness Premiership; or trying to promote it as the final of a competition with more free flowing and skilful rugby than you get in England, but it's all for nothing if none of the coaches from the Ospreys or Leinster camps are prepared to do something offensive with a Custard Cream or Chocolate Digestive."
League officials have even gone so far as to ensure vast supplies of biscuits and other confectionaries have been made available to both teams at their press conferences and training sessions this week in the 'vain hope that something half interesting' may kick off.
In addition, it has been made clear in official correspondence from the league organiser that one team is to be supplied on match day with high quality biscuits from Marks and Spencer while another will receive only Tesco Value products. "If that doesn't kick something off, then I don't know what to do," sighed Trevors.
Meanwhile, sources close to The East Terrace have revealed that Magners officials were behind a series of controversial letters and faxes which arrived in Leinster's Dublin offices last week. The messages, claiming to be from 'a rugby coach in Swansea' contained a combination of threats and taunts relating to the quality of Irish biscuits. The following excerpt from the initial fax is reproduced here:
"We have much better biscuits than u and a much better rugby team! LOL! we will beat u in the final and then disdainedly (sic) eat our own biscuits afterwards in the bar. if u don't like it we will also throw our sweet wrappers in a disdainful manner across a table at u! Ospreys rule!"
Upon first receiving the fax Leinster officials began to compose a furious reply in which they lambasted the arrogance and disrespect of the Welsh region. The Dubliners planned to mock, among other things, the quality of Welsh milk in comparison to the Irish milk used in their own cups of tea. However, closer inspection of the fax showed than the letter had been sent on Magners League headed paper and could not have originated from the Ospreys as was originally believed.
James Stafford is editor of The East Terrace (www.theeastterrace.com) - an offside view of life in the rugby world
"If England flounder in the next World Cup the knives will be out - six-year contract or not." Tom Hamilton on the new contract for the England coaches
With the deadline for World Cup ticket applications now over, Tom May outlines his hopes, gripes and wishes for next year's global gathering
Floundering Leicester, exquisite Exeter and two old England players tearing up trees - it's the Monday Maul
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship and all the domestic action from the northern hemisphere