Rugby Union: Lamaison faces being left out

Christophe Lamaison, the Brive kicker who was France's match-winner against England at Twickenham last year, could be left out for the confrontation between the sides in their Five Nations' Championship at the Stade de France outside Paris on Saturday.

There is no questioning his ability - what worries France's backs guru, Pierre Villepreux, is the centre's mental state after missing a potentially decisive kick in his club's stunning defeat by Bath in the Heineken Cup final on Saturday. He suggested yesterday that Lamaison "may not be mentally up to it".

Lamaison, who scored 18 of France's points as they came from behind to beat England 23-20 last year on their way to the grand slam, was devastated after Saturday's defeat.

Should the French selectors decide to drop him, then Thomas Castaignede would play at centre with the goal kicking duties and David Aucagne at stand-off.

Villepreux said the match with England would prove a huge test particularly for the younger players in a fresh French team under a new captain, the hooker Rafael Ibanez.

"We're hoping for a successful fusion of the young players with the more experienced," Villepreux said.

Ireland have named the Garryowen scrum-half, Steve McIvor, among the replacements for Saturday's Five Nations game with Scotland in Dublin.

The 28-year-old, who won his two caps against Australia and Italy last season, replaces Niall Hogan after the London Irish half-back fractured his cheekbone playing for his club on Sunday.

The London Irish lock Gabriel Fulcher and Victor Costello, the St Mary's College No 8, have been switched from the Ireland A team to play Scotland A on Friday at Donnybrook to the senior squad's replacement panel.

Their places in the A side will be taken by Bath's Brian Cusack and David Erskine, of Sale, while the Bristol stand-off, Paul Burke, takes over the Ireland A captaincy from Fulcher.

Kevin Yates is expected to deny allegations of ear-biting when he faces a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel today. The Bath prop, capped twice, has been advised not to speak publicly about the notorious incident on 10 January, which left the London Scottish flanker Simon Fenn needing 25 stitches in his left ear. Yates, who has been suspended on full pay by Bath, has told colleagues and club officials he is innocent.

There are huge legal, financial and contractual implications for Yates, Bath and the Rugby Football Union and the case will be heard by a high- profile team chaired by QC Michael Burton. He will be assisted by two RFU council members - Jonathan Dance, a solicitor, and Brian Baister, who is a retired assistant chief constable.

The RFU took over the inquiry by mutual agreement when the original intention was for Bath to continue their internal attempt to uncover the truth. London Scottish originally cited the entire Bath pack but reduced the citing to the front row before later eliminating Victor Ubogu and Federico Mendez, leaving only Yates to face a hearing.

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