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Luck of the draw in order of play

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The position of Fixtures Secretary is not usually one that attracts mountains of applications. It is very easy to be unpopular when you are deciding who travels where and when.

In the grassroots game, presenting an early start on the morning after the night before, or a long trip on the weekend before Christmas is hardly likely to win friends. Or maybe a home game the week before Christmas when there is no excuse about getting home early is even worse!

Whoever or whatever performs the equivalent job profesionally at Premiership Rugby is probably about as popular as a Tesco talent-spotter in the parade ring at the Grand National.

Certainly the fixtures threw up some interesting pairings for Leicester Tigers in the international periods this year.

Saints in the autumn, then Harlequins away and Sarries at home in successive Six Nations weeks. Thanks a bunch.

Maybe there’s a policy of throwing together those teams who supply most players to the national squad. There is a certain logic to it. The Tig read recently that all 23 England players in the win over France came from the top six clubs in the Premiership standings. Therefore, you could argue it is better to put those teams most affected in against each other in international weeks. Though with the fixtures prepared almost a year in advance, it would require a lot of guesswork.

Maybe it is just luck of the draw. Quins did, after all, go to bottom-of-the-table Sale after a home win over top-of-the-table Tigers, and then Tigers – who had slipped into third place after subsequent defeats (thanks Mr Fixture Secretary) - faced Sale on home ground during the last week of league action to be affected by the Six Nations.

Whatever the reasoning, it has made for a harsh international season for the Tigers, though it has to be said we could have won at Quins and were in a winning and dominant position at half-time against Sarries. Take those points and the Fixture Secretary would still be on the Christmas card list.

There is also, of course, a luck factor in availability of players expected to be on the field during these spells and having Louis Deacon, Geordan Murphy, Steve Mafi, Anthony Allen and a few others on the sidelines at just the wrong time is certainly unfortunate.

Now those international windows are closed until the summer tours and there is a full squad to choose from (give or take one or two casualties). We'll need them all to be at their best too. Come on Tigers!