Rugby Union: Ban on Rees leaves Cardiff seeing red

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The Independent Online
Cardiff have lodged an official protest with Heineken Cup organisers against the 90-day suspension imposed on their second row Tony Rees.

The Welsh Cup holders had 72 hours to appeal following last Friday's decision of the tournament director, Roger Pickering, to uphold a complaint by Cardiff's Pool D rivals, who cited the 32-year-old former Brive lock for kicking their Welsh international Gareth Llewellyn at Cardiff Arms Park nine days ago.

Llewellyn suffered a cut close to his left eye, and ended the match brawling with Rees, although the French referee, Didier Mene, took no action against either player. Rees will be suspended until 21 December unless Cardiff can overturn Pickering's verdict.

Peter Manning, the Cardiff team manager, said: "There was no intent on Tony's part, he was simply rucking for the ball. Llewellyn was lying on the wrong side, and made no attempt to get out of the way. It was normal rucking by Tony - Llewellyn was struck by no more than a glancing blow."

Meanwhile, Llanelli and Pau are no closer to discovering what disciplinary sanctions the tournament's directors will impose against them following the violence that marred their Pool E match in France a fortnight ago. Both clubs had expected a decision from European Rugby Cup Limited yesterday, but an announcement from Dublin has been postponed until this morning.

Gloucester officials have written to Beziers demanding an explanation after a fan claimed he was the victim of a stone-throwing attack at the end of their match against nine days ago. Roger Payne, a 59-year-old architect, said he and his daughter were both verbally abused before being pelted with stones after Gloucester had beaten Beziers in the Conference game in France.

The club's chairman, David Foyle, said the issue will be discussed at the next Gloucester board meeting. "We take this very seriously," he said.

Clive Woodward, the England coach, has named an unchanged 23-man elite squad for tomorrow's training session at Bisham Abbey. It is the second get-together of Woodward's reign, and he plans two more October work-outs as preparation for England's tough autumn Test schedule.