RUGBY UNION: Farce surrounds Ubogu's sending-off

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND prop Victor Ubogu left Cardiff last night amid farcical scenes following his sending-off during a full-bloodied Anglo-Welsh friendly at the Arms Park.

Ubogu, playing for Bath in a 24-3 defeat at the hands of the Welsh rebels, was dismissed for the first time in his career by an unsanctioned Welsh referee, Alun Ware, after 40 minutes.

But his fate is still unknown because officials from neither club could confirm the exact disciplinary procedure for the friendly matches which are unsanctioned by English and Welsh rugby authorities. Ware, from Pontypridd, ordered Ubogu off for dissent after he disputed a yellow card. Cardiff went on to secure their victory thanks to tries from their Welsh international trio of Robert Howley, Gareth Thomas and Mike Rayer. But Ubogu issued a terse "no comment" after the game, while the Bath coach, Andy Robinson, banned his players from discussing the matter and would not speak himself.

Bath would not confirm or deny that Robinson had issued a threat to take his players permanently off the pitch at half-time. The Cardiff team manager, Peter Manning, said, that, in addition to the referee, an independent official would probably review Ubogu's red card, but no decision would be announced until later today.

If Ubogu is banned, then it leaves Bath with a front-row crisis. His fellow tight-head John Mallett has an ankle injury, while Chris Horsman entered a London hospital yesterday to undergo further cancer treatment.

Ubogu is the second Bath player to be sent off in 17 days, following the lock Ben Sturnham who was dismissed against Bedford on 3 October, but later cleared by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel of allegedly kicking Bedford forward Scott Murray.

The Welsh Rugby Union hierarchy were yesterday accused of blasphemy over their choice of advertising posters for next month's international against South Africa at Wembley.

The posters show the coach, Graham Henry, surrounded by the team under a banner headline saying "Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer", prompting leaders of the Baptist Union of Wales to call on members of its 530 churches to send letters of protest to the WRU. The WRU insisted the posters were not intended to offend and did not contain biblical references. A statement from the WRU read: "It is disappointing to learn that our current poster campaign to promote the forthcoming visit of South Africa to Wembley has met with criticism from some quarters. It needs to be reaffirmed that the campaign has been designed to remind the Welsh public of the old, traditional hymn singing that went hand in hand with Arms Park international occasions - a combination that set Welsh rugby apart from all other nations.

"The words on the poster make up the first line of Cwm Rhondda, the most famous of all hymns associated with those great occasions. There are no biblical references whatsoever and no intention to offend."

Wasps bring in Irish centre Rob Henderson for Nick Greenstock and the England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall replaces Mike Friday for their match with Bedford today.

Anthony Sullivan, the St Helens, Wales and Great Britain rugby league winger and Super League's top try scorer in 1998, is lined up to make his debut for Cardiff against London Irish next week.

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