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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 15:56 UK

Jeremy Guscott column

Jeremy Guscott

Former Bath, England & Lions centre

There's no doubt penalty shoot-outs are very exciting but after the weekend's drama you have to ask 'are they fair?'

My answer would be 'no'.

Most people who saw Leicester's shoot-out win over Cardiff in the Heineken Cup semi-finals would have been on the edge of their seats.

It was pure theatre and some players were not even able to watch when their team-mates stepped up to take their kicks.


I have heard the contest described as "exciting", "mesmerising", "unbearable", "unfair" and "wrong". For me, the last couple of words are the most pertinent.

So, what is a fair and equal way of deciding important cup ties?

Essentially, the penalty shoot-out idea isn't a bad one. It brings the game to a conclusion within a reasonable time.

It's when you involve players who wouldn't normally take kicks at goal that it becomes a bit farcical.

For me, a penalty shoot-out should involve the team's respective kickers and be a best-of-three or five competition, with sudden death after that.

Martyn Williams puts his kick wide
Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams misses the decisive kick

Some people have suggested a count-back system to decide matches. Whichever team has won the most games or scored the most tries during the competition would come out on top should the teams be level on points.

But this could be seen as favouring one side, particularly if that side had been in a pool with one of the weak sides from Italy.

As for tossing a coin, that just isn't right on any level.

I believe the best solution is the golden point.

If, after normal and extra time, teams are level, why not play another 15 minutes each way, with 10 players on each team. The first side to score goes through.

I like this solution because it's still a game of rugby, both teams will be absolutely shattered and a score is likely to come very quickly.

It could have the same excitement and drama as a shoot-out but would be a fairer way of settling things.

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see also
I enjoyed pressure kick - Crane
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Shanklin's penalty 'lottery' fury
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Cardiff 26-26 Leicester (aet)
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Blues v Leicester as it happened
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