Rugby Union: Leonard and Mallett face censure

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The Independent Online
It is not a good time to be an England prop. If the last four weeks have been bad enough for Bath's Kevin Yates, the next few days look like being uncomfortable for his club-mate, John Mallett, and Harlequins' Jason Leonard.

In Yates' case, the allegation that he bit the ear of the London Scottish flanker Simon Fenn in a Tetley's Bitter Cup match four weeks ago was due to be settled late last night, when the Rugby Football Union's three-man panel was expected to deliver its verdict after some 20 hours of deliberation.

It does not look as if Mallett, capped against Western Samoa in the 1995 World Cup, will have to wait long to know his fate. He was sent off for stamping while playing for Bath United, the club's second XV, at Exeter on Saturday, for which he could be suspended for 60 days. If Yates is found guilty he too will face a ban - a much longer one, possibly as much as two years.

Last night the water was being heated for Leonard, too. The French governing body, the FFR, announced that it is to send an official letter of complaint to the RFU over an alleged stamping incident, which resulted in France's No 8, Thomas Lievremont, suffering fractured ribs after 54 minutes of England's 24-17 defeat in Paris. The FFR is not citing Leonard because that has to be done within 24 hours of an incident, but the French body is asking the RFU to take some form of action.

If the England coach, Clive Woodward, who intends studying a video of the incident with the manager, Roger Uttley, concludes that Leonard is guilty, there is little doubt that he will take action. Only last November the Lions captain and England lock, Martin Johnson, was banned for one match after punching New Zealand captain Justin Marshall in the first test at Old Trafford, an action not spotted by the referee.

Last night Uttley said: "We take these matters seriously and having received a formal complaint we will consider the matter very closely tomorrow."

Meanwhile the Lions and England wing John Bentley, apparently unwanted by Newcastle, is suddenly in demand elsewhere. After Newcastle announced that Bentley was to join Second Division Rotherham on loan, Leicester expressed an interest. Then Bentley's rugby league club, Halifax, stepped in and said that although they would not stand in his way, they had an agreement to take him back if Newcastle had no immediate use for the player. Bentley said he hopes the Rotherham move, or one similar, could turn into a longer term one after his contract with Newcastle and Halifax runs out at the end of this year.

The former Leeds and Bradford rugby league centre Carl Hall, sacked by Moseley last month for failing to reach required fitness levels, has joined Jewson National League One leaders Worcester on trial for an indefinite period.

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