BATLEY BULLDOGS head coach Craig Lingard had a trip to forget in the south of France as a lost passport saw him stranded in the country for two days.
His side fought valiantly in a 34-14 defeat away at Toulouse in the Championship last Saturday evening.
However, Lingard was left unable to board the flight back home the next day as his passport had been left on the plane when the team arrived at Limoges airport last Friday.
“It had come out of my bag in the overhead compartment,” he said. “When I came to the terminal I noticed my bag was open and my passport wasn’t there.”
However, none of the guards there spoke English and, by the time Lingard was sent to passport control, the plane had already set off again.
He was allowed to enter the country with the documentation he still had and tried to do likewise when leaving again on Sunday on the recommendation of the British consulate, after he had been told he would have to wait longer before reporting lost property following lengthy waits on the phone to both airline and airport.
When Lingard was refused to board the flight back to Manchester, he had to find a hotel and then take the train to Paris on Monday morning to reach the British embassy.
After a further two-hour delay, having arrived three minutes after it closed for lunch, he received the emergency documents he needed. However, he had to find accommodation for another night before the next available flight from the French capital brought him back on Tuesday morning.
He reckons all of the hotels and transport set him back around £750, making it a trip to forget after what had been an encouraging performance from his Batley team in Toulouse.
They led 8-6 at half-time before falling to defeat in the end against the Championship’s unbeaten leaders, and Lingard was pleased with their efforts.
“In the first half, defensively we were the best I’ve seen all season,” he said. “We caused them a few problems with ball in hand. We made errors and maybe didn’t build as much pressure as we could have done but the effort they put in in the first half was fantastic.
“We just needed to be as physical and intense in the first 10-15 minutes of the second half, but Toulouse came out at a different speed and swung that momentum. It was difficult for us to get it back.”
Half-back Aiden Ineson made his debut and showed “plenty of potential”, but their other recent addition to the squad, Tom Harrington, will have to wait another month before he is able to wear a Bulldogs jersey.
Harrington had a four-match suspension from playing for Dewsbury Moor and Batley thought that it had been served when he signed for Hanging Heaton while on trial at Mount Pleasant in pre-season.
However, the sport’s governing body, the RFL, have said that he must begin serving the suspension for Batley, starting from when he signed for the club.
That means he will be unavailable for their next three matches, against Whitehaven, Bradford and Dewsbury, and is only eligible from their match at Halifax on April 15. He cannot play for Batley’s dual-registration partners, Leeds Reserves, in that time either.
Lingard said: “We’ve had him training with us all pre-season. Effectively he could have signed a contract and run his ban down then, and he would have been able to play.
“We’re now being told he’s got another four games to serve before he can be considered for selection, so it’s a bit frustrating for him and for us as well. For me, he’s being penalised twice.”
Batley’s elimination from the Challenge Cup means they have no match this weekend. That is a blessing for the club, having returned from France with a host of injuries.
Props Jack Blagbrough and Tom Lillycrop suffered muscular and leg injuries respectively while fellow front-rower Toby Everett had a reaction to the part-synthetic pitch in Toulouse, as did centre George Senior.
Winger Johnny Campbell has a swollen ankle while loose-forward Anthony Bowman took a knock to his knee. James Brown (rib) and Luke Hooley (shoulder) were ruled out last week while full-back Dave Scott pulled out just before travelling with illness.