Rugby Union: Guscott's nightmare may be almost over

Clive Woodward, the England coach, is fond of stating that a fit Jeremy Guscott would be one of the first names on his Test team-sheet. Woodward can start sharpening his pencil if the latest medical bulletin from Bath proves to be correct. Chris Hewett discovers a ray of hope.

"He always seems to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to glory," said one Lions hero, Matt Dawson, of another, Jeremy Guscott, during the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year programme on Sunday night. The Northampton scrum-half knows his onions, clearly; a full five months after facing the Springboks in last summer's final Test in Johannesburg, the mercurial Guscott may just be on course for the headline- grabbing comeback to end them all.

Bath believe their most prized possession will be playing again within four weeks and that prognosis gives Guscott a better than even chance of making the Heineken Cup final in Bordeaux on 31 January, provided, of course, his clubmates do their bit by seeing off Pau in this Saturday's sell-out semi-final at the Recreation Ground. It still seems too much to hope for, given the many confident predictions of Guscott's impending demise because of chronic back trouble, but there is at least a faint possibility of his returning to the England side for the Five Nations' Championship.

"Jerry is back with us and fully involved and it's been a big lift for everyone to see him around the place," said the Bath coach, Andy Robinson, whose mood had brightened considerably in the three days since his side's catastrophic Premiership defeat at Saracens. "He's been busily telling us where we've been going wrong and, more importantly, he's taking an active part in training. It's too early to give a precise comeback date, but four weeks is realistic."

Guscott, who had surgery late last month to correct a lower back problem resulting from an accidental knock in training, was more downbeat yesterday. "I don't want to say anything about a comeback," he said. "I'm training again, but that's as far as it goes at the moment." All the same, the signals are far more positive than at any time since the early autumn, when the extent of the injury was first revealed.

Much as Bath would love to see Guscott's uniquely predatory talents restored, they have more pressing fitness concerns. Although they expect to declare both Mike Catt and Adedayo Adebayo fit for what Robinson described as a "monumental" showdown with Pau, neither England player can be rated a certainty for the biggest rugby occasion ever seen at The Rec.

Catt, concussed during the England-South Africa international at Twickenham a little under three weeks ago, was to undergo a neurological scan today while Adebayo was putting his ricked back through its paces in a formal fitness test. Richard Butland will continue to fill in for Catt at outside- half if the scan is not 100 per cent clear while Simon Geoghegan stands by for Adebayo. If the Irish wing does get a run, it will be his first senior outing of a campaign all but wrecked by a serious toe complaint.

Talking of comebacks, Tony Hallett, the former Rugby Football Union secretary who was aggressively and, as it turned out, falsely accused of all manner of chicanery by his enemies within the corridors of power, is about to return to the fray. He replaces Symon Elliott as chief executive of Richmond early next month.

Hallett resigned from his RFU post in the summer following accusations that he misled the membership over the precise terms and implications of the multi-million pound broadcasting deal he helped broker between England and BSkyB. He was exonerated following a judicial investigation.

"There are big challenges ahead, both for the club and for the future of Premiership rugby," said Hallett, who was chairman of the club before taking over the reins at Twickenham. "The potential is enormous." Whether his views dovetail with those of his most powerful Twickenham adversary, RFU chairman Cliff Brittle, is a moot point indeed. "It will be interesting meeting Cliff again in my new role," Hallett added mischievously.

Richmond are certainly moving in the right direction; their five-try victory over Leicester on Tuesday night elevated them to third in the Premiership table. It was not all sweetness and light at the Athletic Ground yesterday, however. The club fined their Lions hooker, Barry Williams, an undisclosed sum after Bristol cited the Welshman for stamping on the head of Paul Burke during last Saturday's close-fought game at the Memorial Ground.

"We categorically refute the suggestion that Barry intended any injury to the player," said John Kingston, the Richmond coach, who nevertheless agreed that Williams might legitimately have been given a yellow card by the referee, Graham Hughes. Bristol have made an official complaint to the RFU disciplinary panel, who must now decide what further action, if any, should be taken.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
i100
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Voices
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK
voices

Environment
A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past