We saw precisely half the BUCS Playoffs fixtures cancelled yesterday and, conveniently, it happened to be one from each of the four postseason divides – one Premiership Semi, one Division One semi, one Division Two North semi, and one Division Two South semi…
Given the large proportion of playoff games unplayed, it’s fair to ask whether there’s going to yet further changes to the postseason schedule this season…
Let’s take a look how likely that is.
Disclaimer: It’s important to stress nothing we share here should be considered in any way official and is just our interpretation of BUCS Rules and Regulations and has been proven to vary significantly from BUCS’ own recently. BUCS should be confirming the postseason fixtures either later today, or most likely Tuesday.
Durham v Leeds was unable to take place yesterday. First Carnegie’s bus cancelled on them, and then as they were loading themselves into player cars, word came through that the Durham pitch had been called off. Despite some scampering to find an alternative venue at the last minute, it was decided to leave things to Monday morning and see what the two university’s AUs can resolve.
While we’re hearing rumblings of a possible rescheduled fixture for this evening, nothing has been confirmed by either team yet.
And that’s the crux – the reality is, if the fixture is not played TODAY? It won’t be played. The final is locked in place for the 25th. There’s a stadium booked, a livestream arranged, etc, etc.
If the two sides can’t find a venue and get the match played in the next ~12 hours, it will be referred to tiebreakers, per BUCS Sports Specific Regulation, AMF 12.1:
“AMF 12 Un-Played Knock-Out Games
AMF 12.1 In the event that it is not possible to complete a knock-out fixture prior to the Monday of the following round due to circumstances beyond the control of both teams, the winner shall be decided by following the procedure in the BUCS General Regulation 13.10.2 on a win/loss/tied record – Set 2 of the ‘Tie Breaker’ document.”
N.B. We’re also aware there is some disagreement about the interpretation of the phrase ‘prior to the Monday’. W’ve previously seen this interpreted as including the Monday itself – teams have previously been recommended by BUCS/BAFA that they have until the Monday to play their fixtures… However, we’re hearing rumblings that BUCS are interpreting it differently this season – Monday fixtures will not be viable, and indeed we’re given to understand that teams will hear from BUCS regarding postseason decisions by the end of the day.
Should tiebreakers be required to resolve progression, Durham would proceed to a second straight National Championship appearance, though this year without having actually taken to the field for a single postseason fixture following Portsmouth forfeiting in the Quarter-Finals.
Edinburgh Napier got as far as Gretna Green yesterday before word came through that Notts’ pitch had been declared unplayable and the Scots were forced to about-face and head home.
This situation, along with Bangor’s below, has led many to potentially misapply an old BUAFL rule, whereby if a home team cancelled once the away team had already set off? It would be the home team that were forced to forfeit.
Reading through the BUCS Rules and Regs over the last few weeks, we can see nothing to make us believe this is still the case.
Again, with the National Trophy Final booked for the 25th, there’s realistically no room to shift the season back, and our expectation is if the teams can’t arrange a make-up fixture for today? Tiebreakers will see the University of Nottingham promoted to the Premiership and heading to Sixways next weekend. The Edinburgh Napier Knights will have gone through three rounds of postseason action without being able to step out onto the gridiron a single time.
And finally, in Division Two, we saw a fixture drop from either side of the Divide.
Southampton were unable to host conference-rivals, OBU, and the Coventry Jets’ pitch was declared unplayable once the MudDogs loaded up on the coach and ready to go.
Here, at least, there’s a slim possibility of a little flexibility from BUCS.
For the Division Two regional Conference Cup finals, there’s no fancy stadiums booked – the highest remaining seeds will simply host the fixtures, currently scheduled for the weekend of the 24/25th due to Division Two having already had their postseason pushed back by one week following the first ‘Beast from the East’ disruption.
As such, there is the possibility we may see something similar to the option offered to Division One a fortnight ago, where should all affected teams be able to unanimously agree? The schedule could be pushed back one more week, with the Conference Cup Finals to be postponed to a “date to be mutually agreed by the eventual finalists. (Last possible date will be Wednesday 16 May)“.
Whether BUCS would choose to offer this option, and whether all teams would agree? We’ll have to wait and see. It’s notable that last time around this option was offered pre-emptively, whereas now the institutions involved would need to make some snap decisions, else leave teams such as Brighton and Newcastle unsure if – and if so, who – they are playing this upcoming weekend.
We’ll obviously keep you updated about any and all information we hear coming out of BUCS in the next couple of days. Following the initial publication of this article, we’ve heard rumblings that BUCS will make their decisions regarding postseason progressions and inform teams TODAY.