RUGBY UNION : Davies' ban confirmed by panel

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An International Rugby Board appeal panel yesterday confirmed the 60-day suspension imposed on the Wales prop John Davies after his sending-off for stamping against England 10 days ago, writes Steve Bale.

The panel, comprising Alan Hosie of Scotland, Marcel Martin of France and Roger Vanderfield of Australia, reached its verdict only by a majority decision. The 26-year-old Neath forward, sent off by Didier Men after the intervention of his touch judge Patrick Robin, will next be free to play from 18 April.

His front-row place in Saturday's match against Scotland at Murrayfield has already gone to the uncapped Spencer John of Llanelli but although he will also miss the Ireland game on 4 March he will be eligible for selection for Wales's World Cup squad.

In South Africa, the re-escalating rivalry between Inkatha and the African National Congress is raising fears about the use of Durban as a World Cup venue. England are due to play all their pool games at King's Park, which will also host a quarter- and a semi-final.

After all the fuss about where the England party will be staying, to have to change from Durban would be the last straw.

"We wouldn't want to change Durban as a venue but we would if we had to," Craig Jamieson, the tournament manager, said yesterday.