Chris Hewett

Chris Hewett is Rugby Union Correspondent for The Independent.

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Ed Slater of Leicester Tigers at the Oadby Oval

Leicester's Ed Slater eager to force way into England set-up

New captain is ready to use Premiership derby with Northampton to further his red rose claims, as he tells Chris Hewett

Tom Palmer returns to the Wasps second row for today’s tough challenge against Saracens

Weekend preview: Saints’ hopes face severe local test from reviving Tigers

Northampton v Leicester (3.15pm Saturday)

Edward Griffiths believes the new European format will allow all competitors to earn more money

Saracens chief slams ‘big egos’ in saga over Heineken Cup deal

Griffiths took a swipe at the rugby establishmen

Francois Louw of Bath dives to score the late match winning try during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath and Leicester Tigers

Aviva Premiership: Francois Louw loss leaves Bath exposed for showdown with Sale

Things are getting just a little tight at the business end of the Premiership, thanks to some unexpected results in the last couple of rounds, so fresh injury concerns over seriously good players are enough to drive head coaches to the brink of despair. Ask Mike Ford of Bath and Rob Baxter of Exeter, neither of whom can afford a slip-up in their pursuit of the big prizes – a semi-final place for the former, European qualification for the latter.

Neck condition forces Exeter's Chris Whitehead to quit

It is only 10 days since Chris Whitehead helped drive Exeter towards a first major title in their 143-year history, scoring a try in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final victory over Northampton in front of a capacity crowd at Sandy Park. Now, his career is over at the depressingly young age of 27. The hooker has retired on medical advice, after a long struggle with a degenerative neck condition.

The former Wales captain Ryan Jones will join a new-look Bristol after 10 years with Ospreys

Ryan Jones joins Bristol’s big-money revolution

Bristol, one of England’s great rugby clubs, have spent much of the professional era in a financial pickle, but now they have some serious money behind them – their principal investor, the billionaire tax exile Stephen Lansdown, makes most Premiership chairmen look like Big Issue salesmen – they are beginning to make their presence felt again. On Monday they announced the signing of Ryan Jones, the former Wales captain and Lions Test forward, who may arrive at the Memorial Ground in time to play a part in their promotion push.

Chris Robshaw, the national
captain

Weekend preview: Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown rested for Wembley showdown

Saracens v Harlequins (Saturday, 3.15pm)

Rob Baxter at Sandy Park

Rob Baxter’s building for good times at Exeter

Lifting the Anglo-Welsh Cup was only the start – the Chiefs coach is planning for more glory days in the club’s £24m new home, as he tells Chris Hewett

Toulon raise the Heineken Cup after their victory last year

Heineken Cup replacement ready to launch

The 20th and final place will go to the winner of an Anglo-French play-off this May

Warburton, right, dislocated his right shoulder in last weekend's Six Nations victory over Scotland

Shoulder injury puts Wales captain Sam Warburton out of South Africa tour

The Cardiff Blues flanker dislocated his right shoulder in last weekend's Six Nations victory over Scotland

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