Rugby: Red faces for Welsh `pansies'

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The Independent Online
Wales yesterday had to take steps to replace Allan Bateman while fending off enquires as to how an official press release had labelled their captain, Jonathan Humphreys, a "pansy".

A knee ligament injury forced Bateman to withdraw from Saturday's Five Nations match against Ireland in Cardiff. The Richmond centre is replaced by Bridgend's Gareth Thomas, who moves from left-wing to partner Scott Gibbs. Dafydd James, also of Bridgend, is drafted in to wear the No 11 jersey, earning his fifth cap.

The Bateman blow came amid other injury concerns which inadvertently led to the slur on Humphreys and his fellow injured Cardiff internationals: Robert Howley, David Young and Gwyn Jones.

A bulletin issued by the Welsh Rugby Union's official press agency was headlined "Rugby (injuries to Cardiff Pansies)" and revealed that hooker Humphreys, scrum-half Howley (both shoulder), prop Young (flu) and replacement flanker Jones (ankle) had sat out Monday's training session.

The gaffe was traced to the Cardiff-based Westgate Sports Agency which handles the team's press releases. The secretary, who was off sick yesterday, had typed the offending description while filing the story on to the agency's computer. This agency's automatic fax system then distributed it to newspapers and other media.

An apologetic Robert Cole, Westgate's director, said: "It was a stupid thing to do, however innocently it was done. I would never call a Welshman a pansy - an Englishman perhaps."