Hemel Stags in dispute over play off fixture at Gateshead Thunder

Hemel Stags will today attempt to get the Rugby Football League to intervene over a dispute about the kick-off time of their Championship One playoff game at Gateshead on Sunday.
Hemel Stags club crestHemel Stags club crest
Hemel Stags club crest

Gateshead Thunder have announced that the game will take place at Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park on Sunday, but they have annoyed Hemel by opting for a 6pm kick-off.

The play-off game will follow the Premiership encounter between the Falcons and London Irish.

“I can understand them wanting to play after the Newcastle game and it’s probable doable if they were playing York or Hunslet,” said Hemel coach Troy Perkins.

“But we are five and half hours away on a coach and for semi-professional players to be getting home at three or four o’clock in the morning is not right.

“Some of our players have an hour’s drive once we get back to Hemel, and I can’t see the coach getting back much before 3am.”

Perkins says that he’s been told by Thunder that their normal home venue, the Gateshead International Stadium is unavailable, but the Australian says he feels that’s a cop-out by the north-east club.

“An official of our club telephoned Gateshead International Stadium on Saturday and they were adamant that there’s no booking for Sunday other than for Gateshead’s play-off game and an antiques fair,” said Perkins

“The stadium spokesman said that the antiques fair would not stop the match going ahead there.

“We are being treated with contempt, and I think that for them to claim that there’s nowhere else to play is a cop out.

“They have played at many grounds over many years and I’m sure somewhere is available at 3pm on a Sunday. It’s not the day that is the issue, it is the kick-off time.”

Perkins says that he could have a number of players unavailable because of the late start.

“I have spoken to all the players and some are borderline whether they will now be able to play because of their work commitments.

“They have meetings arranged in London first thing Monday morning, and we have medical and other staff also to consider.

“We told Gateshead that we did not agree with the 6pm kick-off but then got an e-mail from the RFL stating the game would kick off at that time.

“Surely both clubs should agree to the kick off time? I’m going to pursue a 3pm kick off at Gateshead International Stadium.”

Perkins feels that there should be some mediation and says he is dismayed at the lack of consultation from Gateshead.