Rugby union: Eriksson and Nicol pull out of tour

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND'S tour to Fiji and Australia suffered more setbacks yesterday when London's Scottish centre, Ronnie Eriksson, and Bath's scrum-half, Andy Nicol, withdrew from the 35-man squad.

Nicol became the ninth player to make his apologies after suffering a torn hamstring while playing against Newcastle on Monday. Hours earlier, Eriksson had become the eighth, because of ligament damage to a finger. His place goes to Watsonians' Jamie Mayer.

The South African Rugby Football Union accepted the resignation of its president, Louis Luyt, yesterday and resolved to apologise to President Nelson Mandela for dragging him into court in March. Sarfu plans to meet the National Sports Council today to seek a reversal of the NSC's call for an international boycott of the Springboks.

But while cleaning up one conflict over alleged racism, it set off yet another when the Springbok prop Toks van der Linde was banned for six months and fined 10,000 rand (pounds 1,200) for using a racist insult against a South African women while on tour with Western Stormers in New Zealand. Sarfu suspended five months of the punishment, meaning that Van der Linde can return to play next week for the Western Stormers.

The punishment was called "too light' by the NSC. "It's typical of the mentality of rugby in this country," said the NSC president, Mluleki George. "I believe he should have been banned for life as an example to other racists."

l England Women yesterday lost their semi-final 44-11 to New Zealand, who will face the United States in Saturday's final in the first official Women's Rugby World Cup in Amsterdam.