Sheffield Eagles will have to set off on the day of their Monday-night clash with Toulouse, leaving director of rugby Mark Aston raging at the logistics surrounding the trip.
Aston’s side are poised for an early-morning flight to the South of France, with the Eagles chief pointing the finger of blame at the rugby league authorities, accusing them of making the travel arrangements too late.
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The Eagles also face a day of travelling on Tuesday, and Aston will have to deal with a knock-on effect as he looks to prepare his side for a game with Bradford Bulls the following weekend.
“The RFL should get the flights booked well in advance. They haven’t done. They have left it too late,” Aston fumed.
“When you do that, there is never anything left. That’s what’s happened. Rochdale last week had to come back in two groups to two different airports.
“We have to be at the airport for 5am, which means we’ll have people up at 3am for a flight at 7am. We’ll get there for midday and then it is a case of putting them to bed and resting them up for the 8pm kick-off. It is not the preparation that we would like.
“The day after is a disgrace because we have a four-hour bus journey to get us to the airport to get back to Manchester. That means an early start from the hotel and travelling all day again. It is an absolute disgrace.
“They couldn’t book the flights earlier because of the integrity of the competition. They didn’t know where Toulouse would fall into at the end of the regular season, so they waited. My answer to that was simple. They would have been in one of the groups, so someone would have had to travel.”
Aston confirmed he asked whether the game could be moved from the Bank Holiday slot. But, after checking the possibility of playing over the weekend, the Eagles chief was forced to accept the upcoming two-day slog.
“After the Bank Holiday, these lads have to book another day off work,” Aston added.
“I am furious. It isn’t Bank Holiday over in France, but they can’t get a ground on a Sunday. We wanted to play Saturday, but was told it is Challenge Cup. But it isn’t in France. It is crazy.”