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Monday 25 September 2017

Team with no pull in legal tug of war battle

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

IT is the ultimate tug-of-war battle. One of Ireland's leading tug-of-war clubs is suing the sport's international governing body after its star team refused to "pull" at the World Indoor Championships.

St Pats tug-of-war club, based in Hackballscross, Louth, wants a row over alleged "illegal" running shoes worn by a rival English squad referred to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Tug of War International Federation (TWIF), headquartered in Lucerne, Switzer- land, is fighting the action tomorrow in the High Court.

"The Killarney Incident" has given rise to one of the most unusual sporting actions to come before the courts in recent years.

The row erupted at the International World Indoor Championships at Killarney in February 2006.

St Pats was sanctioned by the Irish Tug of War Association (ITOWA) after the club withdrew from the semi-finals of the championship.

St Pats and two other semi- finalists complained that a rival English squad were wearing "illegal" running shoes.

Kilroe from Manchester were accused of not wearing regulation shoes, prompting the three teams to ask Kilroe to change their shoes. However, the team refused to do so and, after a 45- minute standoff, the other three teams -- including St Pats -- all pulled out of the championship.

The refusal led to St Pats receiving a €1,000 fine and a year-long suspension from the ITOWA.

The club has recently resolved its dispute with the Irish association,

However, it has maintained its legal action against the international federation.

St Pats claims that the TWIF demanded tougher sanctions from the Irish association leading, the club claims, to its effective exclusion from competing in world games.

Isolated

"We were isolated," said Hugh Conway, chief executive of St Pats and one of the pullers in the 2006 games.

"All we want is our good name and to pull."

St Pats is seeking a declaration that the TWIF and two of its officials acted outside of its powers and contrary to international tug-of-war rules when it allowed Kilroe to compete in non-regulation shoes.

The club also wants an injunction restraining the international body from suspending or expelling the club.

The TWIF will ask the High Court tomorrow to have the case thrown out.

Irish Independent

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