Rugby Union: Acrimonious end as Hill departs from Bath

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The Independent Online
Richard Hill, the former England captain, yesterday acrimoniously resigned as chairman of selectors at Bath, the club from which he won all his international honours. Hill had effectively been frozen out of power and influence since John Hall's appointment as team manager.

Hill, 34, who won 29 caps at scrum-half from 1984 to the 1991 World Cup final, was last season's coach of the Emerging England side and is now likely to pursue a coaching career with another club in order to help him remain on the representative ladder. He is still a Bath vice-president, but otherwise has severed all his connections with the club for whom he made 247 first-team appearances.

The writing may have been on the wall for Hill as long ago as July, when he questioned Hall's credentials before the new manager was appointed. Hall had retired at the end of last season, Hill a year earlier after appearing in eight winning Cup finals and five League Championships. In addition, another ex-England man, Gareth Chilcott, is no longer assisting with coaching at the Cup-holders.

"The structure of the club has changed with John Hall's appointment as team manager and I can see no position for me as a coach in the senior side," Hill said yesterday. "John Hall, Phil de Glanville [captain] and Brian Ashton [coach] are selecting the first team, the United and the Spartans, so in practice I don't have a role to play."

Hill's resignation is said to have upset some members of the Bath management committee, which has a meeting tonight - though, once a team manager had been appointed, there was scarcely any point in retaining Hill's former role. "What we have to look at is whether there is a need in the immediate future for both a chairman of selectors and a team manager," Richard Mawditt, the Bath chairman, said yesterday.

Yellow cards in English club rugby have belatedly been given genuine significance with the Rugby Football Union's decision to punish those who offend more than once. Last season, when red and yellow cards were tried for the first time, being shown the latter was no more than a stern admonition, unless it were followed by another yellow - causing a sending- off - in the same game.

"We are going to adopt a totting-up procedure applying to clubs in the top five divisions," Steve Griffiths, the RFU's national referee development officer, said yesterday. "If they receive two yellow cards, they won't be suspended immediately but they will be requested to go before their constituent body's disciplinary committee. It will be as if two yellow cards had been awarded in the same game."

Last season this would have applied to seven players, one of whom even had a third yellow card. There were 16 red cards in the national divisions of the league, including nine in the Fifth North, and 119 yellows (16 in the First, 17 Second, 24 Third, 25 Fourth, 16 Fifth North, 21 Fifth South) plus two reds and 10 yellows in the later stages of the Pilkington Cup.

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