Monday, May 23, 2005

Rake of Trophies Awarded for Major Events

It was a bumper weekend of major sporting events in the UK, with the destination of several famous trophies being decided. In England the FA Cup was won by Arsenal after a penalty shoot-out, the first time in the history of this famous competition that the final has been decided on penalties. Penalties were also required to decide the FA Trophy at Villa Park on Sunday. This competition, run by the English FA and sponsored by Carlsberg, is a knock-out competition for non-league clubs in England and Wales. Meanwhile in Scotland the Scottish Premier League, sponsored by Bank of Scotland, was won in dramatic style by Rangers. 2004 winners Celtic were two minutes away from retaining their title before conceding two late goals to hand the title to Glasgow rivals Rangers.

Another title was also decided in Scotland on Sunday when French rugby union side Stade Toulousain won the Heineken Cup at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. The extra-time victory over Stade Francais gave Toulouse their third European title. The Heineken Cup was first contested in the 1995-96 season as the first pan-European club rugby competition. It is operated by ERC (formerly European Rugby Cup Limited) who also run the European Challenge Cup competition.

Over in Ireland the Nissan Irish Open golf competition was won by Welshman Stephen Dodd after a play-off with David Howell. It was Howell's second play-off loss in a week, after he lost to Thomas Bjorn in last week's British Masters. The Irish Open event, hosted at Carton House Golf Club for the first time, was moved to a new date this year in a bid to attract more top level players. This European Tour event was held a week after the British Masters and a week before the PGA Championship is to be hosted by Wentworth in England. The change of date seems to have worked well for the event and shows how hard event organisers have to work to maximise the standing and attractiveness of sporting tournaments and events.