Bad name, bad concept. The EDF Energy Cup is a nonstarter that should be expunged from the rugby calendar without delay.

Apart from the fact it offers those impoverished Premiership sides another income stream - and they really need another one of those - I fail to see what value it has for sport. I suspect most directors of rugby would happily do with-out it too.

It is a contrived, bastardised competition that ranks third in each of the participants' lists of priorities and should therefore have the switch to the life support machine flicked off.

Quite how a Heineken Cup place can be awarded for winning as few as four games is beyond me. It is a cheap way of tempting clubs to give the event a decent crack but how many of those who played last weekend really did that?

The propagandists claim it offers fringe players and youngsters the chance to play competitive rugby - a commodity all too rare for some of those lads cocooned in the vacuum of an academy.

But it should not be an alternative to a properly thought-out fixture list for developing players.

A handful of A-team games on a Monday night, then a couple of EDF outings in a much-changed starting lineup for the 'lucky' few, is not the right way to go about finding the next generation of England stars.

For the elite players, the weekends set aside for the tournament should be left blank, so that current internationals have the opportunity to rest their battered bodies in a queue for Ikea like normal human beings.

Two hours spent buying a Poang and then several more wrestling with minute diagrams, Swedish instructions and the wrong-sized alum key is the cerebral equivalent of trying to break down the All Blacks defence.

And with the current spate of injuries emasculating the Elite Player Squad gathering at Loughborough at the moment, there seems little point in exacerbating the workload of most first-teamers. We are told, are we not, by directors of rugby that there is too much rugby for Premiership teams?

That leaves the outsiders and the kids, so often the same thing. There has to be a better way of bringing them through.

We have two issues here. What to do with the notion of a cup competition - if anything -and how to smooth the passage from age group to senior rugby.

Just because the game's organisers don't know the solution to either, it doesn't mean the problems should be bunged in the same melting pot.

With a foresighted approach to development, Gloucester and Newcastle have shown a willingness to throw their youngsters directly into the cut-and-thrust of league rugby and how lads like Ryan Lamb and Toby Flood have thrived.

So bring back an open format for the knock-out tournament, call it something decent and give National League clubs the chance to have a go at the big boys. Pertemps Bees' victory over Wasps remains my favourite sporting occasion of the last three years and it saddens me to think it will never happen again. n A big yah, boo, hiss to Coventry who have released injured prop Pete Bucknall just a few weeks after claiming they would stand by their man despite his serious knee injury.

No-one really wants to take responsibility for the decision - I have my own ideas - but it's bad form and one way of guaranteeing the club's reputation of treating players poorly has spanned regimes.

Had Bucknall been kept on, yes he'd have cost a few bob for the next few months, but it would have been worth it in the long run to have a rejuvenated, loyal and talented tighthead prop on their books. There aren't too many of those around. While injury robbed the team of a good front-row forward for this season, the fact that they won't have him next year is entirely of their own making.