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Rugby Union: Richmond challenge Quinnell's ban

A NATION waits. And clearly, as far as Twickenham is concerned, Wales can go on waiting. So can Richmond for that matter, not to mention the man in question, Scott Quinnell. Richmond lodged an appeal yesterday against the 14-day ban imposed on the Richmond No 8 (he has so far served four days of it), and although a spokesman from the Rugby Football Union confirmed that the hearing would be sometime next week, as yet no date has been fixed.

Richmond have gone ahead and named Quinnell, who was sent off against Wasps last month for an alleged late tackle on Lawrence Dallaglio at Loftus Road, in the team to face Saracens at Vicarage Road tomorrow. But Wales will have to wait to know whether he will be free to take his place in the middle of the back row against South Africa at Wembley next Saturday.

Champions Newcastle, meanwhile, will be bringing the latest overseas player to arrive on these shores, the gargantuan South African Marius Hurter. The 6ft 2in, 20st prop with a name as intimidating as his physique, who has played in 13 Tests, arrived on Thursday morning and went straight on to the training ground that afternoon.

He obviously impressed everyone who mattered and Rob Andrew, the Newcastle manager, had no hesitation in inking him on to the team-sheet for what promises to be a titanic get-together with England's own strong man Jason Leonard. "Marius is a fantastic player and a great addition to our squad," Andrew said yesterday.

The Stoop was where Newcastle sealed their Allied Dunbar Premiership title last season, but there is little doubt that Quins will not roll over so easily this time. Although they are without the scrum-half Nick Walshe, Huw Harries is an able deputy.

Just down the road from that game, another batch of overseas players has landed and the beneficiaries are London Irish. The Exiles' director of rugby, Dick Best, has been impatiently awaiting the arrival of the former All Black Steve Bachop and New Zealand-born Kevin Putt along with an armful of other southern hemisphere ammunition.

Half-backs Bachop and Putt were drafted straight into the team to face Sale today and a delighted Best said: "This is it. Subject to a major disaster this is the full metal jacket. This is the squad that that will take us through to the end of the season and hopefully into next year."

There is no doubt that Sale will have their hands full. Their coach, New Zealander John Mitchell, himself an All Black tourist, knows what to expect and said: "I have played with Bachop and Putt. I know all about them. We will have to hope they take time to settle in together as a partnership."

Sale are struggling just three places off the bottom of the Premiership, but although their international hooker Phil Greening and wing David Rees are fit again, having proved that in a second XV match at Bath in the week, they have both been named on the bench.

The club is resigned to losing Greening and Rees to England over the next four weeks and it was felt wiser not to disrupt a settled side for just one match. They are not a bad pair to have in reserve, though, and even 20 minutes from them could change the complexion of the game.

Greening's old club, Gloucester, have left their captain, Dave Sims, on the bench yet again for the visit of Bedford, with Mark Cornwell getting the nod over the England man. At Franklin's Gardens, where Northampton entertain Wasps, the Saints are without their prop Frederico Mendez who is on international duty for Argentina against Italy. More significantly, the England stand-off Paul Grayson makes his first start in three weeks, having finally been preferred to Alistair Hepher.

The leaders, Leicester, have named a 22-man squad for their crunch game at home to Bath. England's Will Greenwood and Graham Rowntree are included in the squad having come through a midweek work-out in the seconds.