Rugby Union: RFU pass the buck to France

Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

England, or rather the Rugby Football Union, yesterday took up with their French counterparts the stamp by Richard Dourthe which was shown by television to have opened up Ben Clarke's head in last Saturday's match in Paris.

The No 8 himself seems to be a reluctant party to the RFU's action. Having been in one or two scrapes himself, and even been the first Englishman to receive a yellow card in an international, he doubtless appreciates that complaints can be reciprocated.

Hence Dourthe has not been cited, as it was the RFU's right to do, and is instead the subject of a letter to the French federation (FFR) as opposed to a complaint. Yet Andre Herrero, France's chairman of selectors, confirmed yesterday that the 21-year-old centre might be suspended for a game or two once Herrero had viewed a recording of the first-half incident.

Tony Hallett, the RFU secretary, said yesterday: "In consultation with Ben Clarke, we will not be citing Dourthe or taking the matter further. In not pursuing the incident beyond this letter, we are leaving it to the judgement and good sense of the FFR, who will be informed of what Rugby Special highlighted.

"Ben is still in France and I spoke to him before sending the letter. He is happy with our action. He did not see who did it and has no impression of how deliberate the injury was, but he said that he did feel it."

While the defeated English ponder their team for the match against Wales on Saturday week, Wales are poised to reintroduce Jonathan Davies to the international scene by including him in a squad of 32 for the Five Nations to be named today. If the recent re-convert from rugby league were English, the selectors would not yet be permitted to consider him.

Time is running out for Neil Jenkins. The Pontypridd stand-off has not played since breaking a collar-bone on 16 December, and his chances of making the squad are slim. "I have got a big heart but I don't want to play if I'm not right," Jenkins said.

The Scottish yesterday added two more to its portfolio of paid players by placing the scrum-half Derrick Patterson and the lock Scott Murray, who were on the bench in Ireland last Saturday, on contract. The SRU also announced that Jim Telfer, its director of rugby, would manage the summer tour to New Zealand.

London will be the venue on Friday for a meeting of Europe's leading clubs to establish a Professional European Clubs' Association. The Association wants to run next season's European Cup, including negotiating the TV rights and retaining the money.

Waratahs conquer Bristol,

Alan Watkins, page 23

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