Rugby Union: Quinnell clear to play Pumas

SCOTT QUINNELL is enjoying such a purple patch of good fortune that it will be a major surprise if he fails to pocket this weekend's Lottery jackpot.

Last night, the Wales No 8 persuaded Judge Advocate Jeffrey Blackett, no less, that his now notorious megaton tackle on Lawrence Dallaglio during last month's Wasps-Richmond match at Loftus Road was not quite as bad as all that.

The judge waived the 14-day ban imposed by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary tribunal and effectively cleared Quinnell to face Argentina in this Saturday's Test at Stradey Park.

Quinnell, who has now left Richmond for Llanelli, appealed against the suspension when officials of the London club discovered that his challenge on the England captain was a mere 0.33sec late.

The hearing, originally scheduled for last Thursday, was postponed so the appellant could attend the birth of his son - a pure coincidence that just happened to smooth the way for Quinnell's appearance in last Saturday's contest at Wembley.

Having shone in his natural rugby-playing habitat against South Africa, he was equally effective in a very different environment at Twickenham yesterday evening. Although the judge, sitting as an independent arbitrator, found that Quinnell had committed an offence in flooring Dallaglio, he also deemed the sending-off to be sufficient punishment.

Another RFU tribunal faces a potentially awkward hearing tomorrow when Victor Ubogu, the Bath prop, answers a charge that he abused referee Alun Ware during an unsanctioned game against Cardiff a little over three weeks ago.