Holah's Penalty Shoot-out Sympathy For Wales

Marty Holah has expressed his sympathy for fellow flanker Martyn Williams, after the Wales and Cardiff Blues number seven missed the vital kick during professional rugby's first ever penalty shoot-out.


The former All-Black was an interested observer at home on Sunday as Leicester Tigers triumphed in a battle of nerves to book their place in the Heineken Cup Final in Edinburgh later this month thanks to Jordan Crane's decisive kick to break the hearts of Blues fans.

While Holah feels that a shoot-out is a harsh way to decide such a big game, he acknowledged that it provided great watching for neutral viewers and he says that he can't think of any better method to separate two sides in such a match. He commented:

"I think it's fair to say that I wouldn't have been one of the guys lining up to take a shot at goal, I would have been going in at number 15. It's a pretty harsh way to decide such a big game. I have huge sympathy for Martyn Williams, it could have been anybody in his position so it's just down to chance that he was the one with the kick that counted. All you have to do is kick a ball between the posts from 22 metres out, it sounds so easy, but the reality is something different.

"After eight games in the competition, after 100 minutes of rugby on the day, you are down to a situation that you don't give a second thought to as a forward, which will decide your whole season. How many players full stop, never mind forwards, have ever thought that they would find themselves in that position? It's hard on a good pro like Martyn, but if it wasn't him, then it would have been someone else.

"It's not the ideal way to decide these big knockout games, but I can't think of a better solution. People have said about playing on indefinitely but I'm not really sure that's fair either as you could go on for some time and as players tire then rugby standards are sure to drop and injuries will occur. Maybe there could be an extra 10 minutes or so, the game was opening up and looked like it was on the verge of cracking, so a few more minutes could have been all that was needed. I don't know. Not only wouldn't I want to be taking the kicks, I wouldn't like to be the guys who make the call on replacing it with something else either.

"At the end of the day though, as an observer, it was great entertainment, it was real cliffhanger stuff, and maybe, there is the answer. If it provides a winner and a loser, and entertains the neutral watching on TV then it's the perfect solution already and there's no need to change anything?"