Competitive sport is defined by its rules. But there are rules, and then there are rules.
What Carew Cricket Club did over the weekend might not be technically against the rules, but the Welsh team have come in for heavy criticism after using a loophole to win the title in their local league.
And their actions have sparked a healthy (or perhaps not so healthy) debate over the extent to which sports clubs should be allowed to use the rules to their advantage when their actions appear to be against the spirit of the game.
Carew began the final day of the Pembrokeshire Division 1 season 21 points ahead of second-placed Cresselly, who just happened to be their opponents.
Their league awards 20 points for a win, as well as bonus points for batting and bowling. Cresselly won the toss and put Carew in to bat, which was their first mistake.
What happened next was either brilliant or disgraceful, depending on how much of a win-at-all-costs mentality you possess.
Carew declared at 18-1. You read that right – eighteen.
As has been pointed out, this couldn’t have happened if Cresselly had opted to bat first and picked up their batting bonus before putting their opponents in to chase a total.
‘Thinking that Carew would want to beat us the right way and show everyone they are indeed the very best, their choice to declare and deliberately lose was at odds with their title of champions of the county,’ a Cresselly statement reads.
Carew lost by nine wickets, but you can’t give away bonus points if you declare on 18.
By doing what they did, Carew guaranteed themselves the title, triumphing by a solitary point. Others weren’t happy, but some will say the season lasts for 18 games and not just one.
It feels like the equivalent of a football team taking the ball into the corner in the closing minutes of a match in order to stop their opponents mounting an attack.
If you want to win, it shouldn’t matter how you do so as long as it’s within the rules. It depends on how much you value the spirit of the game over the glory of victory, and Carew’s priorities apparently lie with the latter.
Plenty of names from the cricket world and beyond chimed in after hearing of the result, and while few could argue with Carew’s better results over the course of the season, that wasn’t the only thing that mattered in the eyes of some.
Definitely not in the Spirit of the game, but clever, cunning and legal, nevertheless.— Alec Blackman (@alecjblackman) August 29, 2017
We wouldn’t be surprise if a ‘Carew Rule’ comes into play for the 2018 season.
(Main image: Rex Features)