Exams stop play as sport faces fixture fix

March 1, 1996

Much has been made on the sports pages of the prospect of the FA Cup's fifth round of the stretching into infinity as bad weather forces endless postponements. But the soccer authorities are not the only bodies facing fixture pile-ups.

For the British Universities Sports Association, constrained by term-times and the examination commitments of their competitors, the ferocious weather has been particularly inopportune.

"We had a fixture break in January for exams. A lot of our competitions take place indoors but we even had a bad week with them, when heavy snow stopped teams getting to the venues," said Jim Ellis, senior administrator of BUSA.

Most sports are now back on track, but there are still problems with rugby, one of the highest-profile events in student sport, with a final at Twickenham on March 20.

Nobody knows this better than Cardiff Institute of Higher Education, hot favourites to take the trophy this year. Its team is also chasing promotion in the Welsh National Leagues, in the last 16 of the Welsh Cup and providers of six or seven players to the national student XV.

And with postponements, all those fixtures are starting to run into each other. Cardiff was due to play in a Welsh Cup tie last Saturday with a postponed last 16 BUSA fixture against Durham followed by a possible quarter final on the Wednesday.

But first the cup tie was postponed, then Durham protested against the Monday fixture, leading to its being shifted to the Wednesday. BUSA will now have to put back one quarter final and one semi final, while Cardiff will have to play the Durham game without their best players - on international duty for Welsh students two days later - and face a similar clash if they make it through to later rounds.

Mr Ellis said: "When you have a final at a national stadium like Twickenham you can't ask them if you can put it back a week".

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