Rugby Union: Rebel referee flies in

Bedford 10 Cardiff 27
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The Independent Online
Bedford 10 Cardiff 27

WHEN THE referee leaves for home by private jet you know you have witnessed a rugby match with a difference. Cardiff's wealthy owner, Peter Thomas, and the chief executive, Gareth Davies, took it on themselves to deliver David Price and his touch judge Brian Brock to and from Goldington Road in style. Perhaps in the current climate they feared a masked Vernon Pugh or Glanmor Griffiths ambushing the officials, who have resigned from the Welsh Rugby Union, as they crossed the Severn Bridge. "Your whistle or your life!"

The practice of clubs rather than unions appointing referees is trouble in the making. Price admitted he was unsure as to the disciplinary procedure if he had been required to send off a player, although his guess was that the clubs involved would make a ruling based on his report. "We're open to offers from English referees," he said.

Little wonder, with the prospect of around half a dozen Welshmen taking charge of almost 60 of these unofficial matches this season.

The rebels did not create much of a stir in Bedford and the attendance of 1,743 - at least that was the official figure - did little to ease Frank Warren's cash flow problems. Times are hard yet Bedford, runaway champions of Premiership Two last season, postponed their hard-earned return to the top division to accommodate Cardiff. Historically, the two clubs share little more than the Cambridge blue in their jerseys. However, their 12th meeting overall was much more about the future than the past.

Rob Howley, making his return to action after the hamstring injury sustained for Wales in June, was the first of two Cardiff players to require stitches in an uncompromising contest.

Bedford, their squad depleted in fitness and morale, were short of inspiration and their coach, Paul Turner, fretted on the touchline as Cardiff took control with second-half tries by Jon Humphreys, Matthew Wintle and Greg Kacala.

Bedford: Try Howard. Conversion Howard. Penalty Howard. Cardiff: Tries Humphreys, Wintle, Kacala. Conversions Jarvis 3. Penalties Jarvis 2.

Bedford: S Howard; R Underwood, A Murdoch, J Ewens (S Brading, 72), D O'Mahony; T Yapp, C Harrison; N Hatley, J Richards, V Hartland (C Cano, 32-37; 48), A Duke, S Murray, R Winters, J Forster, R Straeuli (capt).

Cardiff: J Thomas; L Botham, L Davies, M Wintle, S Hill; L Jarvis, R Howley (capt, R Jones, 6-15); A Lewis, J Humphreys, S John (L Mustoe, 51), K Stewart, D Jones (J Tait, 51), O Williams, D Baugh, G Kacala.

Referee: D Price (Caerphilly).