TOM BRADSHAW: Have snow doubt - winter is rugby's time
What was your highlight of last weekend's European club rugby?
It wasn't strictly on-field action but mine was watching a bloke with a broom run around Welford Road in a vain attempt to keep the touchlines and try-lines free of snow as the Tigers played Toulouse on Sunday.
It was the sporting equivalent of painting the Forth Bridge. As the snowstorm in Leicester refused to relent, the groundsman made a series of increasingly audacious attempts to clear the 22m lines.
This almost resulted in him being struck in the face when a clearance kick – smacked downfield against the run of play – swooshed past him as he scrubbed away.
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Here in Bath it was a similar story of Man Vs the Elements, with the ground staff and a band of hardy volunteers ensuring that the match with Bucharest went ahead.
The serious point in all this is that it underlines the lengths that rugby administrators – and Heineken Cup organisers European Rugby Cup in particular – go to ensure that games go ahead.
With a congested fixture list to be stuck to, rugby isn’t going to be knocked off its stride by a mere flurry or two of snow and ice.
There are some in the game who would like to see an end to all this. Not an end to games being played on schedule, of course, but an end to games being timetabled for times of the year when the weather is invariably so poor that postponement can only be staved off through a Herculean effort.
Some advocate a change of season dates so that most rugby is played in warmer weather on firmer pitches, more like the conditions that the Super 15 in the southern hemisphere tends to be played in. The spectacle, they claim, would be better.
There is a certain appeal to this – particularly if you like fast-paced, attacking rugby – but most people who have grown up in the UK playing and watching rugby from September to May retain an affection for the game as it is played during the bleak midwinter.
It might not always be pretty but it at least serves to test both a team’s character and its ability to adapt to the conditions.
To completely remove rugby from those months would be like taking Christmas out of December. The game’s purity would be tainted, an integral element torn out.
I sympathise with those who desire to see the rugby season partitioned into separate chunks so that club and country fixture lists do not overlap.
But if that means sanitising club rugby so that it is only played on firm pitches on long evenings, then that would be a price too high.
And what on earth would that bloke with the broom in Leicester do?