Popplewell to face charge

Rugby Union
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Nick Popplewell, the Ireland and Newcastle prop, has been ordered to appear before a Rugby Football Union national disciplinary panel for bringing the game into disrepute by punching Bedford's Scott Murray two weeks ago.

Newcastle's rugby director, Rob Andrew, fined his old Lions colleague a week's wages - believed to be pounds 1,000 - reprimanded him and warned the player as to his future conduct. However, having studied the evidence at length, Roy Manock, the chairman of the RFU disciplinary commission, has decided that Popplewell's act may merit further penalty.

Bedford were extremely unhappy at Newcastle treatment of the prop. "Popplewell's punishment hardly fits the crime - especially as the punch could have endangered not only a young man's eyesight but also his whole future in the game," a Bedford spokesman said.

Because Popplewell was shown only a yellow card by the referee, Bedford could not cite the Irishman for the punch and the prop must be dealt with under the provision of disrepute, which has been used only twice before since the national panel was formed. If Popplewell had been sent off for punching, he would have received a minimum ban of one month. If found guilty next week, that is the likely suspension.

Bristol are likely to reject an offer from Bath for Mark Regan, their 25-year-old England hooker, but the player has welcomed the bid. The reported pounds 65,000 attempt to buy out the remaining year of Regan's contract may be too low, with Bristol aware of interest from Wasps and Richmond.

"I haven't had any talks with Bath but I'm flattered that they have shown an interest," Regan said. "It allows me to keep my options open when I come to review my future at the end of the season."

Regan had previously said: "Money talks, but you have to remember where you come from. Bristol have been everything to me."

Tony Swift, the Bath chief executive, refused to comment on the approach for Regan.

n Brendan Cannon, a Queensland front-row forward, is planning to appeal against the severity of a 15-week ban for stamping on the New South Wales winger, Alistair Murdoch, in a ruck during Queensland's 26-16 victory in a spiteful Super-12 match in Sydney on Saturday.