Cup relief for Havant as rivals ‘cry off’

Hampshire Cup holders Havant, above, received a bye into the next round after Winchester failed to raise a side    Picture: Neil Marshall
Hampshire Cup holders Havant, above, received a bye into the next round after Winchester failed to raise a side Picture: Neil Marshall
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HEAD COACH Will Knight is relieved that Havant do not have to start their defence of the Hampshire Cup against Winchester at Hooks Lane tomorrow.

The visitors ‘cried off’ during the week because they couldn’t raise a team.

With the London one south campaign resuming next weekend, Knight is delighted his team do not have to play the extra game.

Havant now have a bye into the next round, when they will travel to old rivals Gosport & Fareham.

Knight felt that as cup-holders his team should not have been required to play the only preliminary-round tie in the competition anyway.

He believed the game was unnecessary and placed an unfair burden on his team.

‘I don’t really understand how we ended up with a draw like that,’ said Knight.

‘There are only six teams in the competition and the Hampshire RFU have certainly not done us any favours.

‘We still have to play last season’s losing finalists Gosport & Fareham away in the next round.

‘Meanwhile, Portsmouth, Andover and Basingstoke have all been given byes to the semi-finals.

‘It seems a very odd way of doing things.

‘We believed it was a seeded competition but obviously that is not the case.

‘When the draw came out we made representation to the Hampshire RFU but they chose to stick with it.

‘It certainly doesn’t help us with our league campaign.

‘London one south is a very competitive league and that starts up again a week later.

‘Now, at least with Winchester crying off, we can have a week off – like all of the other teams in our league.’

Knight also finds it strange that his team and Gosport are being asked to play an extra game at a time when the Rugby Football Union at Twickenham are making a lot of noise about player demands.

Havant face a challenging second half to their league season to ensure they maintain their current status.

They struggled for consistency in the opening half of the campaign due to a succession of injuries to key players.

Knight knows his team still have a lot of hard work ahead of them if they are to move up the league and away from danger.

They were buoyed by an excellent win over Medway just before the Christmas break and the head coach wants to see them push on from that.

‘We still have a number of injuries and will obviously have one eye on our return to league action,’ added Knight.

‘There is a need for greater consistency, and to achieve that we need our players fit on a regular basis.

‘As a club we have always treated the local cup competition with respect and regarded it as a central part of our season.

‘The league, however, has to be our priority and situations like this make it difficult to do that.

‘It is unfair to both teams.’