Rugby Union: Banned Quinnell misses S Africa

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLISH have contributed more than their fair share to the demise of the once glorious Welsh in recent years, but last night the judiciary of Twickenham dealt the Principality a real body blow, writes Chris Hewett. A Rugby Football Union disciplinary tribunal decided that Scott Quinnell, the Richmond No 8, was guilty of hitting Lawrence Dallaglio, the England captain, with a late tackle in a Premiership match a fortnight ago and banned him for 14 days, thus denying him a shot at the world champion Springboks on Saturday week.

If Richmond, who lodged an immediate appeal, were none too happy with the outcome - club officials had been confident of securing an acquittal after establishing that their player made contact with Dallaglio a mere 0.33sec after the Wasps loose forward had kicked the ball - the Welsh were even more aghast. The verdict came just a few hours after Graham Henry, the national coach, had effectively named Quinnell as his No 8 to face the South Africans.

Henry will now play either Colin Charvis of Swansea or Llanelli's Chris Wyatt in the middle of the back row; Wyatt, the man of the match for the Scarlets in their weekend European Cup victory over Stade Francais, plays much of his club rugby at No 8, but is considered by Henry to be a second row. Quinnell will be available to Richmond and Wales from 16 November and while it will not be much of a consolation, he may well be involved in his country's one-off Test against Argentina at Stradey Park five days later.

"Although the normal International Board suspension for this type of offence is 21 days, the panel considered 14 days appropriate because they accepted that there was no malice and that it was not premeditated," said the RFU in a statement. Their words were unlikely to make Quinnell feel even the tiniest bit better; indeed, they might almost have been calculated to intensify his frustration.

Meanwhile, Henry, who supported Quinnell in person at last night's hearing, named Anthony Sullivan, the former St Helens rugby league among a 25-man party now preparing for the Springbok Test. Sullivan, who joined Cardiff last week but has yet to start a game of union, has two club games in which to stake a claim for a place on the Welsh wing before the coach finalises his side on Monday.