Sport is cruel that’s for sure and perhaps we saw it as its most cruel at the Millennium Stadium in the Heineken semi-final. Leicester and Cardiff were locked at 26-26 at the end of 80 minutes and again at the end of a further 20 minutes of extra time, so it was left to rugby’s first penalty shoot out. Now this is ok in football because all the outfield players can take a penalty.
But in rugby union can all the players be expected to take a penalty. I say no! In the match it was left to the one of the most consistent players in the last decade of north hemisphere rugby, Martyn Williams to take the 8th penalty, as the penalty shoot out score was 6-6. As an openside flanker he has never taken a penalty before in his left, but stepped up all the same. He missed and up stepped Leicester Jordan Crane to slot his over and win the game.
Anyone with half a percent of rugby sense would never blame Williams for the defeat and while I am about it I could have done without Crane’s football-style celebration at the end.
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My solution would be for each side to nominate five kickers and for them to kick five penalties from various parts of the field, from which we would get a result.
It is cruel and undignified to ask a forward to take a penalty. ERC got this one very wrong.