Rugby Union: Richards rejigs for European rumble

DEAN RICHARDS was an upstanding member of the Leicestershire Constabulary for the first half of his working life and spent his entire sporting career extolling the virtues of 10-man rugby by tucking the ball up his jumper and slowing down every game to his own lolloping pace. But he is not quite the ultra-conservative icon his followers would have you believe. There is a radical streak lurking around in that huge frame of his, and it came to the surface yesterday when he gambled a fair stake of his reputation - not to mention his club's immediate Heineken Cup future - on a team selection that was not so much imaginative as downright brave.

Two former Wallabies, Pat Howard and John Welborn, have been dropped from the Leicester side for tomorrow's crucial Pool A rumble with Stade Francais, the Parisian club who should have won last season's title and are joint favourites to pocket the silverware this time around. In their stead will be Leon Lloyd, playing out of position at centre, and Ben Kay, a 23-year-old second row from Moseley who caught Deano's eye while everyone else was off watching the World Cup. What is more, Richards has resisted the temptation to play Austin Healey at scrum-half. The Leicester Lip, fit again after shoulder surgery, will appear in his England position of wing, thereby leaving the half-back duties to a pair of 19-year-old shavers, Andy Goode and James Grindal.

It would be a bold call for any Heineken Cup fixture. For this particular game, a must-win occasion for the Tigers after their botch-up against Leinster in Dublin a week ago, it is courageous in the extreme. The Frenchmen, coached perhaps for the last time by Bernard Laporte, who is about to take over the Tricolore reins from Jean-Claude Skrela, have fully-fledged international half-backs in Diego Dominguez and Christophe Laussucq, not to mention a threequarter line boasting Test caps in Thomas Lombard, Franck Comba and the brilliant Christophe Dominici.

Even though Richards has been deprived of two thirds of his front-row ABC club because of the neck conditions affecting Richard Cockerill and Darren Garforth, he is clearly unwilling pick his "name" players on reputation alone. He wants Will Greenwood back in his optimum position of inside centre, hence Howard's demotion, and he wants some honest-to-goodness effort at the sharp end. The choice of Kay, lighter but taller than his Australian rival, makes Richards flavour of the week with Clive Woodward, the national coach, who will have the unexpected pleasure of watching 14 England-qualified Tigers when he joins the 13,000-plus throng at Welford Road.

It was not a great day for the international brigade on the other side of the Irish Sea, either. Dion O'Cuinneagain, the Irish captain, and Niall Malone, a former Test stand-off, were left out of the Ulster side for tonight's game with Wasps at Ravenhill as the European champions' coach, Harry Williams, reacted to last weekend's reverse in Bourgoin. Andy Ward, thought to be suffering from a fractured foot but clearly healthier than originally feared, relieves O'Cuinneagain of the open-side duties, while Bell resumes his midfield partnership with Jan Cunningham. "Our performance in Bourgoin wasn't as bad as people made out, but I was disappointed with our management of the game," explained Williams, who has also dropped Gary Longwell from the second row in favour of Mark Blair.

Down in All Black country, the fall-out from a third successive World Cup continued yesterday when Rob Fisher announced his intention to resign as chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. Fisher, who hopes to continue as a board member, admitted that his decision was influenced by the All Blacks' failure to bring home the Webb Ellis Trophy.

Jason Jones-Hughes, the Australian-born Wales centre, has been told he is ineligible to play for Newport in the European Shield. The Welsh Rugby Union informed the 23-year-old, who made his Wales debut in the World Cup, that he has missed 12 November closing date for registration.

Jones-Hughes joined Newport after he was finally released from his contracts by the Australian Rugby Union and New South Wales. Should Newport qualify from the group stages of the Shield then Jones-Hughes can be nominated by Newport as one of two new players eligible to play from the quarter- finals onwards.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Ashdown Group: Junior Reports Developer / Application Support Engineer

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Recruitment Genius: Client Support Officer

£10 - £11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The candidate must be committed, engag...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible