Rugby Union: Call to stamp out violence

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The Independent Online
The silence emanating from the Heineken Cup boardroom is almost deafening, but one man at least is determined to force the top brass into making some sort of noise. Roger Pickering, the tournament director, yesterday recommended that his superiors take immediate sanctions against Brive and Pontypridd in the wake of last weekend's violent excesses in France.

Pickering was not only disturbed by the punch-up between the two sides and "sickened" by the bar-room brawl that followed it - three Brive players needed hospital treatment while a similar number of Welshmen were invited to help the police with their inquiries - but he was also depressed by incidents in the Pau-Llanelli match, not to mention the Conference tie between Newcastle and Perpignan.

Tom Kiernan and his fellow European Rugby Cup Ltd directors heard evidence from both Brive and Pontypridd in Dublin on Wednesday but failed to agree a course of action. Yesterday, Pickering revealed that a second meeting had been scheduled for Monday.

Pontypridd officials added a bizarre twist by claiming that Brive had made transfer approaches to Dale McIntosh and Phil John, two of the players most implicated in the after-match violence - which puts a new perspective on McIntosh's thumbs-up sign to the home crowd after he had been sent off.

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