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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Automation Test Lead (C#, Selenium, SQL, XML, Web-Services)

£50000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Automation Tes...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Long Term Primary Teacher - Stockport - Start ASAP

£90 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Primary: Experienced Primary...

Science Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - South Es...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering