Saturday, February 24, 2024

Canary Wharf injury crisis: What next?


A fascinating insight here  into how referees may “adjust” rules in the interests of sportsmanship

Rod Symington and Graham Walters deal with an issue that arose during last year’s ISS Canary Wharf Classic semi-final showdown between Nick Matthew and James Willstrop, when Willstrop dived full-length after a ball and ended up screaming in agony, lying in a heap in the back-left corner suffering from cramp.


At the semi-final of the 2010 ISS Canary Wharf Classic, after two hours of play and at a crucial score, a player (James Willstrop) suffers a cramp and the Referee mandates that that player must continue.

The opponent (Nick Matthew) “refuses to accept victory” and offers to allow the injured player the full three minutes as a self-inflicted injury. Does the Referee suspend the rule and acquiesce? Does it matter if it’s an event with 2000 spectators – or 20?

GRAHAM – It is the players’ game and, although that was contrary to the letter of the Rules, I would have done the same thing. No, it doesn’t matter how many spectators are present, although I would not like to refund the price of 2000 tickets!

ROD – Apply Rule 21 (“Fairness and Commonsense”). Yes: suspend the Rule; and no: the number of spectators does not really matter. It’s the players’ game – and in such circumstances the Referee should defer to the players’ wishes. Where there are a large number of spectators and a TV audience, these factors particularly need to be considered. It is in the best interests of the sport of squash to promote the game – and you don’t do that by applying such a Rule rigorously when the opposing player has shown such great sportsmanship. The “fair and reasonable” thing to do is to let the players finish the match (if possible). Bringing the match to an untimely end by applying the Injury Rule strictly, does not serve any positive purpose.

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1 Comment

  1. Suppose a player less sporting than Matthew was in his place. Would he have consented to allow Willstrop 3 mins?

    Since most referees aren’t medical doctors, it’s impossible to determine for certain if a player has torn a muscle or suffered a cramp in it unless a MD is present on site to evaluate the problem immediately. if it’s a bad cramp, putting weight on it could tear the muscle and voila, self-inflcited injury. If it’s a cramp, player must return immediately to court and suffer a one stroke penalty. That would keep them honest.

    If no MD can evaluate then the players would get the benefit of the doubt. Clearly after two hours Willstrop could have torn a few muscle fibers if he put his weight on it when it cramped. you only need to tear 5 or 6 fibers for it to hurt like hell.

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