Around the country teams were gearing up for the final round of games before the Christmas break except for down in Southampton where one changing room, meant for the Anglia Ruskin Phantoms stood empty.
After much debate and speculation about why the Phantoms (0-5) had pulled out of the Stags BUAFL fixture, the team decided to release the following statement;
‘It is with regret that The Anglia Ruskin Phantoms have taken the decision to forfeit their game against The Southampton Stags Sunday 11th December 2011.
After consultation with the league, university and student union officials it has been decided that taking fourteen players and without an offensive line of players who have played this position before, it would neither be advisable or fulfilling the ethical duty of care to players to fulfil a fixture.
The Anglia Ruskin Phantoms deeply regret being unable to fulfil this fixture and appreciate the understanding shown by BUAFL and The Southampton Stags. However, not one respected football voice contacted for advice saw any benefit in jeopardising player safety in a vain attempt to meet a standard of bravado unnecessary at this competitive level. Anyone unsure of the basis of this responsibility should refer to the BAFCA Code of Ethics, Article 1, Section 1.
The Anglia Ruskin respect the right of other BUAFL teams in similar situations to make their own decisions and would welcome direct contact via our team website from anyone seeking clarification of our position or willing to offer constructive advice. In the absence of such contact, we would request all other parties avoid idle speculation about our team and enjoy not only the rest of the season (in which we intend to continue to compete) but a restful, and in many cases needed, Christmas break.’
Due to the misconception and rumour surrounding the fixture being forfeited, Phantoms Head Coach Geordie Saint decided to put the record straight and spoke to ‘Fight For The Yard’.
“I thought it was best to get a message out and let people know the reasons behind our no show in Southampton today. Firstly I would like to kill one rumour; we have 9,000 undergraduates at the University of which 41% are male, split between two campuses so numbers such as 30,000 students are false.
“The campuses split earlier in the year because of transport issues in Cambridge (naturally the rowing squad gets the minibus) and recruitment in Chelmsford is traditionally low.”
Injuries are a factor for most teams but when you only have 23 players and 17 of them are rookies, it is understandable that your resources will be stretched at some point.
“Injury wise we have lost our starting QB, our back-up QB, a two way lineman/linebacker and our most versatile player who can play anywhere on offense and defence. We had nobody weighing over fourteen stone so that was the offensive line out the window.
“Our overseas players have gone home for Christmas, so all this meant that only 14 players were ready to travel for the game today.”
Coach Saint realises that his team are way off the competition at the moment but that will not stop the Phantoms from going out and having some fun . . . when they have a full team of course.
“Ultimately we know our place in the league. We know we don’t have the playing resources to compete at the highest level but instead we want to be competitive so we can have fun and achieve some fair results. That won’t be this year, I doubt it would be next but we’re moving forward.”
Fight For The Yard wishes the Anglia Ruskin Phantoms the best of luck for the remainder of the season.