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SRU punishes Greens for Carrick forfeit

By Matt Leslie

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Caithness Rugby Club have been docked three points by the SRU for failing to fulfil their fixture last weekend at Carrick.

The decision came when, as had been feared, the Greens were unable to cobble together a squad for the National League Division Three fixture.

A number of call-offs had severely weakened an already under-strength Caithness side and, despite some extraordinary lengths undertaken by coach George Sutherland to raise a team, the cancellation was not long in coming.

The Greens now sit at the bottom of the table on minus two points and can expect harsher sanctions from the beaks at Murrayfield if the situation repeats itself.

However, Sutherland feels that the affair has driven home to some of his players what they stand to lose if more games are forfeited.

He said: "I feel as if the decision to dock us points has clicked some of the boys into gear.

"While there were those who called off who had good excuses – such as injuries and work commitments, especially the guys who work offshore – some of the other excuses were a bit thin.

"We saw some good numbers at training the other night – which was a very good session – which suggests some of the boys have realised what they stand to lose if the club is placed in this situation again.

One guy was planning on doing his night shift at Dounreay and then, as soon as that ended, driving all the way down to Ayrshire to play for us

"As for what happened, I was scraping every possible bucket in order to get a team and replacements bench to go down to Carrick.

"I was trying to persuade players who had retired to try and make a comeback, asking clubs who we have dual registrations with players if we could borrow them, former players living down south if they could show up, and I was coming out of retirement for this one myself – as well as driving the team bus down.

"One guy was planning on doing his night shift at Dounreay and then, as soon as that ended, driving all the way down to Ayrshire to play for us. Rugby's tough enough when you've had a good night's sleep.

"It was admirable on his part but that brought home the realisation that we had to bow to the inevitable and, for the first time in the club's history, forfeit a match.

"We fully accept the SRU's punishment and we have offered multiple apologies to Carrick."

Caithness are expected to fulfil Saturday's home fixture against Howe of Fife at Millbank but Sutherland admits the small squad size is still a concern.

He added: "We should be okay to play this one. Hopefully we can carry over the good performance against Ardrossan from a fortnight ago and go one better this time and get a result against Howe.

"We've brought in a new fly-half, Zak Richardson, who comes from Perth in Australia, but we do need a few more players.

"We've around 35 players but given the physical nature of rugby, ideally, you need 60 players for a full season.

"So if any of your readers are interested in returning to rugby or taking it up please come along to Millbank [at Millbank Road, Thurso] on a Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm to participate in our training sessions. We'd be delighted to see you."

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