Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Smith Discovers Playoff 'Joke' Is No Laughing Matter

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Smith Discovers Playoff 'Joke' Is No Laughing Matter

Article excerpt

THE Zurich Championship has turned the climax of the English league season into a national joke, writes Chris Jones.

After watching his side claim a 38-14 victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium, Northampton coach Wayne Smith was incredulous at the prospect of going to Bristol for the playoff semi-final. He asked: "How can the fifthplaced side now play at the eighth team's ground? Did Monty Python set up this structure?"

Irish finished fourth in the league and had home advantage over Saints, who were fifth. But because eighth-placed Bristol beat Leicester in another playoff match, they will now play at home for the next round. Smith added: "Maybe we'd have been better off finishing eighth, playing against a team that didn't want to play in this competition, and then get a home semi-final."

Although the Saints have qualified for the Heineken Cup after Sale beat London Wasps 43-27, Smith is still unhappy with the way both Leicester and Irish rested players for the playoffs. …

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