Our thanks once again to Shepherd-Neame who have provided Sponsorship to this competition for 6th consecutive year, via their Spitfire Gold branding.
This year, we have the introduction of the RFU “Game On” initiative, which is wholly admirable in many respects but which presents some problems for cup-competitions. We, therefore, feel that for the pool stages, the “Game On” rules should apply, so that if a team can muster at least 12 players, their opposition must match them for numbers to make an even contest. (One would hope also that subs could be provided if a team “playing-short”, loses one or more players to injury) To compensate teams with a full complement of players that agree to match their opponents for numbers and then lose, we have agreed that a bonus point should be awarded to them in recompense. We don’t envisage that “Game On” rules should apply in semis or finals.
In previous years we have adopted the same front-row protocol as the Shepherd Neame Junior Leagues – even though these rules made no sense once games passed the pool stage.
We really want games to be played rather than forfeited, and we don’t want teams to feel that for the sake of a missing prop, it’s not worth turning up. On the other hand, we know that certain rules can be manipulated for tactical advantage, which is why we previously said that a player had to be removed from the field of play in the event that their team could not scrummage owing to lack of front-row – although this could discourage teams from playing a fixture, knowing that they would or could be playing 1 player short.
We want to reward teams that scrummage properly, so this year we will be keeping things simple by penalising teams with insufficient front-row players, by deducting 7 points from their on-field points score – whenever it occurs ie before or during a match. Hopefully, this will be simple to understand and implement – and should obviate the need for any games to be forfeited merely for lack of front-row.
That’s all that needs to be said about situations where clubs can’t field 15 players and/or a full front-row.
You will also see in the attached document, that the format has changed a bit this year. I have cut and pasted the relevant changes here:
This year, we have returned to 24 clubs, with the welcome addition of Gravesend and Deal & Betts, but with the loss (hopefully temporary) of Cranbrook, Elths, Anchs and Ashford.
However, in a change from previous seasons – and to reflect the preferences expressed for playing levels – the Spitfire Cup will be contested by only 8 clubs (Tier 1), whilst 16 clubs will compete in the Tier 2 competition for the Bowl and for the Shield, with the Plate being rested this season (This assists with the Finals Day logistics this year, as the only realistic date, is 15th March 2020 before the clocks go forward, meaning that it would be difficult to stage 4 consecutive matches, whereas 3 can be comfortably accommodated)
Good luck for the season. I hope that you enjoy the matches and that overall, the competition will be beneficial to clubs and Veteran players alike.
Vets Competition manager