Rugby Union / Pilkington Cup: Quins draw respite from studs

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The Independent Online
HARLEQUINS, who face allegations of wearing illicit studs in their Pilkington Cup quarter-final victory at Waterloo, yesterday drew Wasps in a Sudbury semi that conveniently keeps the London clubs together. Leicester and Northampton will contest the other tie at Welford Road.

After the weekend furore Quins were glad to have something else to talk about, but the studs issue will not go away and if the club are found guilty of having changed their studs after the referee's inspection the Rugby Football Union will take action. Quins intend making a statement today.

Last night Jamie Salmon, the team manager, and Colin Herridge, the secretary, met their players to enquire why Stewart Piercy had sent Brian Moore, Jason Leonard and Alex Snow to change their studs during last Saturday's game. The offending items were allegedly longer and more tapered than the dimensions prescribed in Law 4 of rugby union.

Piercy has refused to discuss the subject, even with Salmon, though as he was wired for television it was clear he believed the studs worn by some players were not the ones he had earlier examined. Moore said they were the ones passed by the referee before the Wales-England match.

'We have to sit down and look at the implications,' Herridge said. 'It's something we've got to address but I guess there may be a wider issue than Harlequins.' How ironic that it was a Harlequin - the Scotland lock Neil Edwards - who suggested last year that illegal studs were a problem needing official attention.

'When we have studied Waterloo's report we will ask the referee for his version and, if necessary, see what Harlequins have to say,' the RFU secretary, Dudley Wood, a former player with both clubs, said yesterday.

Quins' visit to Wasps is convenient for both RFU and sponsors because it ensures that one of the well-supported Midlands clubs will be at the final on 1 May, so giving a better chance of maintaining the final's recent tradition of filling Twickenham. Wasps and Quins might fill Sudbury's 4,000 capacity but packing 54,000 into HQ would be stretching the point.

The 1988 semi-final at Wasps was won by Quins in extra time and they also won last season's postponed fourth-round tie there, but in September Wasps squeezed a 15-13 league win at The Stoop. 'We are never great starters to the season, when most of our guys are still sunbathing,' Herridge said. 'At that stage we didn't have our full team out but the players can smell the grass of Twickenham and tend to put in their best in cup games.'

Leicester and Northampton are to discuss making their match all- ticket. Welford Road's capacity is 14,000, a figure that was not far off being achieved when the two met on a Tuesday night in the league last season. Leicester's 11th semi- final will be only their third at home.

In Wales Llanelli and Pontypridd were paired for the fourth time in five years and the seventh time altogether when the Swalec Cup quarter-final draw was made last night. Llanelli have won each of the previous ties.

Bonymaen's home draw with neighbouring Swansea - Third Division against the upper reaches of the First - will pit the underdogs' former Wales stand-off Malcolm Dacey against his former club; the same applies to Swansea's current Wales flanker, Richard Webster.

David Millard, the London Scottish scrum-half, was yesterday called on to the Scotland bench for Saturday's match against England after Andy Nicol withdrew with a sprung shoulder.

PILKINGTON CUP Semi-final draw: Wasps v Harlequins; Leicester v Northampton. Ties to be played on 10 April.

SWALEC WELSH CUP Quarter-final draw: Llanelli v Pontypridd; Bridgend v Newport; Neath v Cross Keys; Bonymaen v Swansea. Ties to be played on 3 April.

Five Nations try dearth,

Alan Watkins, page 28

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