They were supposed to be the warm-up act for the main attraction but Andrew Higginson and Jamie Jones put on a real show for the Galway crowd in the absence of Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Betfair PTC Grand Finals last night.

Higginson won 4-3 with a 95 break in the decider which was all the more creditable considering Jones had stolen the sixth frame by sinking a terrific long black.

O’Sullivan had withdrawn yesterday morning, citing illness. It transpired he had got on the plane, was said to be feeling ill, was told he could not sit by his friend and got off again.

I don’t dispute O’Sullivan’s glandular fever has left him feeling drained. I’m told he was admitted to hospital after the Welsh Open.

But there was widespread anger backstage that he withdrew on the day of his match, giving organisers no time to reschedule and leaving the paying public short-changed.

I myself spoke to two snooker fans who had taken the day off work and come from across Ireland to watch O’Sullivan play. Their specific comments could only be printed after the watershed.

However, World Snooker will no longer be giving players who withdraw because of illness ranking points and prize money, even if they have a doctor’s note. From now on, if you don’t turn up, you get nothing.

This is of course harsh on a player like Ali Carter, whose battles with Crohn’s disease are well documented.

However, there is a mechanism, introduced when Paul Hunter was seriously ill, by which a player can apply to have his world ranking protected if he is unable to compete.

Xiao Guodong meanwhile turned up with a broken bone in his hand, made a century in the first frame against Judd Trump and beat him 4-2.

Perhaps subconsciously Xiao did not expect too much of himself this week because of the injury. He’s now in the quarter-finals.

Jones is on his way home but good luck to him in the future. He tweeted after the match how much he had enjoyed Galway and the people here.

This is the sort of young player the game needs: grateful for his opportunities and humble in victory or defeat.


Anonymous said...

Well here we go again with the ROS saga. How about we concentrate on the actual players - the emergence of Xiao Guodong and the re-emergence of Maguire and Lee as major forces in the game. Snooker is in a good place at the moment even if you know who isn't.

Matt said...

Personally I've never understood why players have been given minimum ranking points when withdrawing due to illness, so I think that this is perfectly sensible. If you don't take part in a tournament then it is logical to me that you don't receive points, regardless of the reason.

In terms of long-term absences due to medical reasons then there is a difference, something akin to the protected ranking system in tennis is logical enough.

Ray said...

Great match last night. This week ought to give Jamie Jones a lot of confidence. If he works hard he will achieve his goal - the only thing holding him back is his lack of self-belief and killer instinct. One for the future?

ROS let the spectators down big time (and not for the first time). He shows no respect for the game or the paying public by his tardy actions. He's got preferential treatment in the past because a lower ranked player would have been severely penalised. Anyway, seems like they've caught on to him now.

Anonymous said...

At the venue, withdrawing on the day of the tournament is unacceptable. World Snooker need to look at fining players ranking points (I think Ronnie might have made a bit more of an effort to get on the plane if there was a chance of points being deducted and him having to qualify for the worlds).

Out of interest, has Ronnie ever withdrawn from one of his knockabout exhibitions with Jimmy on the morning of the event?

Anonymous said...

If you lose your first match you shouldnt get any points. Period.

Anonymous said...

Well done Andrew Higginson. Wasn't pretty, but he has a chance to get to another final.

Anonymous said...

Some sensible and fair points in this blog post, but the bottom line is that it's fuelled by a dislike of O'Sullivan the person, and his attitude that's simply tarnished the rest of it.

It also fuels the fire of all those people out there who don't understand him and dislike him in equal measure. Fair enough, but it's moths to the flame. Irritating for everyone else.

For me what this episode shows, truly, is just how disorganised World Snooker (despite the advent of Hearn) are: having brought in a rule about first round points in the middle of a season (probably in response to one player rather than tackling that issue head on, because they're too scared to) and being unwilling to offer some form of compensation for a player withdrawing when they know full well that half the crowd have come along to see the one player in the evening session.

Anonymous said...

lets all talk about the spotlight kid, again.

the sooner we are rid of him from snooker, the better.

good ridance ronnie, the tournament has been great without you!

Anonymous said...

The game doesn't need Ronnie. This is the final nail in his coffin. He is an a**e. Flippin prima-donna drama queen.

Anonymous said...

The biggest loser here is Michael White....
If Ronnie had pulled out before, White would have got a place.

Well done Ronnie!! Bet you feel proud.

Anonymous said...

He wasn't well! He's had glandular fever for months, and he did actually get on the plane. It's so easy making snap judgements when you already have an opinion on him. Also - players appear, circumstances permitting. Circumstances, in this instance - not being able to sit next to his friend - did not permit him to appear on this occasion.

147 said...

Ronnie o sullivan has a very serious condition and if he feels he cannot play then so be it,The guy did,nt invade any country or kill anybody it beggars belief how people get so worked up over silly things.

Anonymous said...

MBE for Ronnie!

Anonymous said...

So not being able to sit next to a friend on a short flight is a good reason to let down a sold out venue??

Anonymous said...

its amazing that some people defend him, cos hes their fav player or whatever.

he treats people like dirt, but pretends he carse about fans

hes done it sooooo many times. being unwell this time (yeah right) doesnt make any difference.

a completely selfish man. only blinkered fans of his would disagree (or those who are such, but pretend thay arent)

i cant wait till he retires.

Anonymous said...

Don't keep teasing us O'Sullivan. Just GO and don't even think about coming back. The game's better without you!!!!

Norville Rogers said...

He won't be going to Beijing for the China Open, so it would have looked bad if he had turned up well enough for this, then had a relapse just in time for China.

I don't have a problem with him missing tournaments. It's up to him which ones he plays in. Just like golfers or tennis pros.

Anonymous said...

3.08 PM - I don't know the circumstances, but surely we can assume that he intended to play if he actually got on the flight in the first place. If he just didn't turn up without informing anyone or without any explanation then he'd be totally out of order, but something must have happened before that plane left.


Hi David. Today, March 18. Al ovely tribute, you paid to Alex Higgins, today, In commentary, n Higgins's 63rd birthday.

R.I.P. and happy 63rd birthday Alex Higgins.

It has been a great event, in my view. well done to all players in it.

I think it is more than fitting, that the final, of a professional, televised event, in Ireland, of all places, is played on Alex Higgins's birthday. A great Irish player, and Irish sporting hero, in general.

Anonymous said...

well played Stephen Lee. You were the real star of the show this week.

I thought Robertson would win, but you absolutely deserved this title.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3.08. Get a life, O'Sullivan didn't want to go to Ireland. Any excuse not to. He's not needed now - Hearn, put your foot down - kick him out! I suspect you don't even read this blog and see what snooker supporters think.

Anonymous said...

i see some people are defending the indefensible.

he has done it loads and loads of times.

if he wasnt such a brilliant player (with a big fanbase of people who want to watch a player running about the table) those who try to defend him wouldnt get past first base.

WS are to scared to tackle him head on, yet in the last year or two where his late no shows have been worse than ever, the game of snooker has flourished without him (except for a month of v good play)

snooker doesnt need you ronnie.

i dont wish you any ill health, but i wish youd just go and do something else and stop playing punters who turn up to see you only to be told at the eleventh hour youve "done a ronnie" AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

If a wealthy pop star didnt show at a sold out gig because he allegedly couldn't sit next to his friend on the plane, I doubt producing a sick note would have much weight in the following litigation by the promoter. But the real losers are always the ordinary, non rich fans who perhaps used a valuable days holiday to go to the gig, or maybe can only afford to go to one gig (transport, meal, hotel) a month. What compensation do they get. None. As we say in snooker, three misses and you should loose the frame.

Anonymous said...

not sure if this was the case but its been reported that he was offered a change of seat for a tenner and declined.

but, all his fans are saying...he wasnt well, he shouldnt have been there in the first place etc..

he was there. he wasnt well. fair enough. he was prepared to go if he sat next to his pal, but wouldnt pay £10 to do so?

what a baby if any of that is acurate.

if none of it is, ill or not (and we all know what normal snooker fans believe) he has pulled out AGAIN, at the last minute.

hes a let down...and hes not that good any more. only sporadically

Anonymous said...

how can he act like a mardy superstar who doesnt get his way . lets face it real superstars dont travel Ryanair in the first place .

Anonymous said...

1137, watch out. you may upset the ronnie police