Rugby Union: Finalists left with no tickets

ENGLISH rugby has spent the past two years tearing itself apart, so it should not have come as any great surprise yesterday when the committee- room politicians proved unable to organise a simple Twickenham cup final without provoking a public punch-up with the competing clubs. Nevertheless, Saracens and Wasps were both flabbergasted when the Rugby Football Union refused to hand over tickets for sale at their respective box offices.

Both sides have been granted an allocation of 15,000 tickets, but their supporters will have to go via Twickenham rather than pop along to Vicarage Road or Loftus Road. "The RFU management board has decided to distribute the tickets from a sole source for administrative and logistical reasons," said a spokesman for the union. "The aim is to ensure that the financial proceeds from the final can be distributed more quickly and efficiently to the 122 clubs who took part."

It was not an explanation that satisfied either of the finalists, who were planning on using ticket sales to underpin major public relations initiatives in their Watford and west London catchment areas. "Unbelievable," said Geoff Huckstep, the Wasps chief executive. "A club needs to use the distribution of cup final tickets to heighten its profile and develop its image."

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