France: Thonon Black Panthers traveled six hours; game cancellation could have consequences

The Thonon Black Panthers traveled five hours to Montpellier, France, located in the south of the country, to play the Montpellier Hurricanes in the opening game of the season for both teams, only to be told minutes before kickoff that the game was cancelled.

According to the head referee, Patrick Hukeler, the field was in such poor state owing to a rugby tournament that had been played three hours before that it was unfit for the football game.

The field markings had vanished and there was a sea of mud occupying much of what had been grass.

Needless to say, the Black Panthers players, coaches and management were outraged.

One official who wishes to remain anonymous said:

“Nightmare. A totally a nonsense decision!”

Dressed and ready to play, even in the mud, Thonon was stunned the game was suddenly cancelled.

Clark Evans, quarterback for the Thonon Black Panthers:

“When we arrived it surprised us how bad the condition of the field was and that there was a rugby tournament going on.”

Several sources say that the referee made the decision after both teams had warmed up. The Black Panthers wanted to play the game while allegedly Montpellier’a players were against it.

Naturally, Thonon has spent a great deal to travel the 1,000 kilometers and would want compensation at least for that.

The Hurricanes claim they had no idea that a rugby tournament was scheduled just prior to the game.

The French Federation of American Football has appointed a committee to determine if the Hurricanes were at  fault. A decision will be made Monday, February 4.

If Montpellier is judged to be at fault, they will forfeit the game and be forced to compensate Thonon for the travel. It is not known as yet if there is a fine also associated with the ruling.


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