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This year’s interleague is going to be a poorer one than in past years, we have lost one our brightest of stars in West Yorkshire’s Triangle team due to disciplinary actions taken against them by the National Committee. The actions themselves have no relevance to the Interleague as an event, but it has embroiled some of their players.

Ironically, it isn’t any disciplinary actions that have brought an end to their involvement in the event. It is the fact that they failed to send their booking form by the deadline and have been replaced.

It may well be that the two issues are related to the players but from an official stand point they failed to get their booking form in on time and have been replaced.

All sports have their hot issues from time to time, Pool is no different, what started out as purely a Champion of Champions issue has been ongoing since the event and is now having a knock on effect.

This is not the place to go into what has happened or why it happened, who did what etc but the issue is important enough to acknowledge that it has happened and it’s no use sweeping it under the carpet.

Whatever the real reasons are that Triangle did not send in their booking forms in time the sad fact is that we will be missing Darren Appleton, Shane Appleton, Mick Hill, Chris Melling, Kev Barton Rob Wilson Ben Finch and they would have added enormously to the event as they have in the past ten or so years.

There are three distinct groups in the debate on the rights and wrongs of this issue. There are those that say they are all guilty as charged, then there is the group that say they did no wrong they can’t be charged with anything. The third group are the ones who say they don’t care about what happened and just want to continue playing pool so let’s just get on with it.

All three groups have their strong and week arguments but without knowing all the facts none of them can make an informed decision. I am not in possession of all the facts either so I can’t say what should happen about the issue. That job falls to the National Committee’s disciplinary body.

I just know that the interleague will be less of an event without them. Triangle not being there will clear the path for Trent Trophies A to resume the mantle of being the best Interleague team around. It will also make it easier for other teams to reach the latter stages of the event if there is no Triangle to block their path.

Whilst Triangle might not be there all the other teams that usually make it to the business end of the event will be so as well as Trent Trophies A we will have teams like P.J.’s Stourbridge, Mexborough, Dawley A (the reigning champions) Sun Valley, Brighton A, Imperial I, Leicester and the All’oas battling it out to become the 2006 Interleague Champions.

Although one of the above will probably win it there are another 16-20 teams that with the rub of the green could win it but for some reason when it come to the crunch they always seem to fall over. It’s not that they are not good enough it’s a bit like the old western gunfighters it’s the ones that blink first that end up getting shot Whilst the cool unruffled Clint Eastwood types get ready for the next gunfight.

Whatever happens over the weekend of 1st & 2nd April it will be the last Interleague played to the old team qualification rules as a new set came into effect on Jan 1st this tear.

Whilst it is fair to say that the bulk of them are still the same there are some changes that will have a profound effect on the make up of teams in the future.

There was a ruling that said that a player had to live within 12 miles of the leagues headquarters in order to represent that league in an Interleague team. At the time that was introduced the thinking was that it would stop teams being manufactured and generally speaking it has in the main worked.

In the modern world, Pool players are much more mobile then the players of yesteryear and have the options to travel further a field to play their league pool. Players today can play in a different pool league every night of the week f they wish to.

Players that do this are likely to travel further than 12 miles from their homes in order to do so. The rule was very unfair on players that wanted to represent a particular league, played more in more than enough matches to qualify but couldn’t play for their chosen team because it fell outside the 12-mile rule. An even worse scenario was that of a player who grew up playing in a local league, became good enough to represent the league at Interleague level for many years. Then for whatever reason moved away from the area but continued playing in the league because that’s where their mates played would find they were no longer legally allowed to play for the team they had represented for years.

This was clearly unjust to a lot of players so after a long process of deliberation it has been agreed to let players represent the league they wanted to regardless of it’s geographical location. In order to make sure the rule was still strong enough to cover it’s original mandate a minimum playing criteria was attached to the new rule.

This is that any player can represent a league they are registered to play in without any qualification criteria up to county level. In simple English the league should be allowed to chose any of it’s players to represent them providing the player wishes to represent them and there should be no strings attached.

However, if that team qualifies for the National finals of either the Interleague or the K.O. Cup then 50% qualification criteria will be enforced at local league level and at county level. Meaning that a player must play regularly in their chosen local league and also at county level. The rule has always been there but will now be actively policed.

The Interleague Rules were revised in 2005 and are in force from 1st January 2006, a downloadable copy is now available.

Interleague Rules 2006 (34k Pdf file)

One of the things that most people who have heard about the rules say is how are you going to police the 50% rule in local leagues. It’s quite simple really if proof of attendance at either local or county level is requested and a local league or county association fails to supply it then the invitation to attend the Interleague final will be withdrawn.

The next question is what constitutes proof of attendance again that’s easy only a fully completed match scorecard will be accepted. After all a match score card will tell you who played and whom played whom and could be verified with one phone call to the players involved. It would only be in extreme circumstances that a player would be phoned and asked did you play such and such a player on this date In your local league?

Any local league that is worth it’s salt has these records to hand and would involve very little work to find them when needed.

Of course there is also the web lots of leagues now have web sites, which are rightly proud of their players and publish their stats for all to see. A lot of checks on player eligibility can be verified without the county or local league even being involved.

The weekend also sees the England internal World Championship team qualifiers where all the non-retained England players fight to get one of the two spaces available. This year will have an added spice with all the players aiming to impress New England Mens Team manager Robert Uzzell.

The event has become something of a tradition now and I’m sure that most England players now prefer to play it there because they always get a good crowd watching. This is in stark contrast to the sterile atmosphere of playing them in a club somewhere.

That is nothing against any of the venues that have staged it in the past but it did tend to be just the players with a few club members who didn’t really know what it was all about.

Most of the players would prefer not to have to go through it at all but the fact is that the WEPF (World Eight Ball Pool Federation) will not allow the full England squad to attend as players so the squad has to be trimmed for the World championships.

At least in staging the Internal team trials in Vauxhall’s main hall the players do get to play on great tables and the venue is better suited to the prestige of the event. After all these players are playing for a place in the England team for the World championships.

This year also sees the return of the single location format for the Men’s World Championship qualifiers. Over the past few years there was a second event held in Blackpool in the week before the World Championships took place. Which was basically a weekend long event where players could enter a knock out each day and try to qualify that way.

If you made it on day one then you didn’t need to keep going. However if you went out you could come back the following day and try again knowing yesterday’s winner would not be there to block your progress.

With Vauxhall’s return to being the only place where you can qualify for a spot in the men’s single event in the world championships the number of people trying to enter will rise again.

The sheer numbers trying to enter the event make one of the biggest events in the country where somewhere between 350-400 people traditionally enter the event as a warm up to the Interleague.

The stage is now set for a great-extended weekend of pool and we hope to see you there even if it’s only for a pint at the bar.

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director

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