Rugby Union: Angry Lions await action

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The Independent Online
Twenty-four hours of philosophical contemplation have not improved the Lions' mood; if anything they are angrier than ever. When a distraught Doddie Weir, his left knee in tatters thanks to the vicious attentions of Marius Bosman, flies home after tomorrow's game here with Northern Transvaal, he will leave behind him an unholy row that may yet end up in the courts.

If the officials of the Mpumalanga union fail to discipline both Bosman and his partner in crime, Elandre van der Bergh, for their violent excesses during Wednesday's match in Witbank - and to the Lions' satisfaction, at that - Fran Cotton, the manager of the tourists, will explore alternative avenues of redress, including support for any civil action Weir might feel inclined to bring.

"As it stands, we are taking no further action," said Cotton, who revealed that Bosman's stamping attack on Weir had caused structural damage to the popular Scot's knee and would result in both surgery and a lay-off of months rather than weeks. "But we have made it absolutely clear to the local union that we expect them to take appropriate disciplinary steps against both lock forwards who played against us. If that doesn't happen, we'll reconsider our situation; it's a hard enough game without gratuitous violence and we're not taking it from anyone."

Nigel Redman, the veteran lock forward from Bath, has been called in to replace Weir. That decision deprives Jack Rowell, the England manager, of another influential figure in advance of tomorrow's second Test with Argentina in Buenos Aires - Mike Catt, the goalkicking outside-half, was summoned earlier in the week - and once again, Cotton refused to countenance a delay. "We've asked for Nigel immediately and it would be unprecedented if he were to be prevented from joining the Lions as soon as practicable," the manager said, bluntly.

Despite lingering doubts overMartin Johnson's fitness, the tour captain will lead the Lions at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow. Experimentation has been kept to a minimum; Eric Miller, the No 8, tests out the repairs to his fractured cheekbone at open-side flanker, but plans to give Allan Bateman a run outside the first-choice half-back pairing of Rob Howley and Gregor Townsend were abandoned when the in-form Welsh centre tweaked a hamstring in training.

LIONS (v Northern Transvaal, Pretoria, tomorrow): T Stimpson (Newcastle and England); J Bentley (Newcastle and England), J Guscott (Bath and England), A Tait (Newcastle and Scotland), T Underwood (Newcastle and England); G Townsend (Northampton and Scotland), R Howley (Cardiff and Wales); G Rowntree (Leicester and England), M Regan (Bristol and England), J Leonard (Harlequins and England), M Johnson (Leicester and England, capt), S Shaw (Bristol and England), L Dallaglio (Wasps and England), S Quinnell (Richmond and Wales), E Miller (Leicester and Ireland). Replacements: S Gibbs (Swansea and Wales), M Catt (Bath and England), A Healey (Leicester and England), B Williams (Richmond and Wales), D Young (Cardiff and Wales), T Rodber (Northampton and England).

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