Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 25 May 2016

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Queen’s left with no choice but to pull out

Published 01/12/2009

Queen's decision to withdraw from the AIB Senior Cup was taken by the the players, it has emerged.

Director of rugby, Robbie Moore, said the club had pointed out the pluses and minuses and left the players free to choose.

The original quarter-final, scheduled to have been played on Saturday, November 21, was postponed due to Cork Constitution’s Temple Hill pitch being waterlogged.

The IRFU rescheduled it for Saturday past, but Queen’s were so understrength that the players felt the handicap left them with no realistic chance of progressing.

“It was our only free weekend in 25 and the reason we had a day off was that with there being 11 Ulster senior clubs, there is always one with no fixture. Last Saturday just happened to be our turn,” Moore said.

“Since the start of the season the boys believed they would not be playing on that date, so they went ahead and made their own plans.

“Some were going to be out of the country. Others had tickets for the Ireland-South Africa game.”

Constitution were willing to accommodate Queen’s offer of a December 19 meeting, but the IRFU declined that option.

Instead they suggested a switch to Sunday, but several Queen’s players were unhappy with that because of their Christian principles.

Things were then made impossible when the Queen’s lost three further players.

“Our physio advised against including three injured players, two of them front row forwards. So that left us even more depleted,” Moore explained.

“All of this would have meant us travelling to Cork with a very understrength team to face one of the strongest club sides in Ireland. The decision as to what we should do was left to the players.

“We asked them to consider it and vote accordingly. Their opinion was that if they were not going to be able to do themselves justice, then they would rather withdraw.”

The IRFU’s Gordon Black said: “Queen’s University are out of the competition having decided not to fulfil their quarter-final fixture against Cork Constitution.

“That means Cork Con progress and now will play Ballymena at Eaton Park in the semi-final.”

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