Rugby Union: South Africans provide perspective for Italy

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Italy were told yesterday by the International Board that their admission to the Five Nations' Championship in 2000 should be approved in January, and then found themselves on the receiving end of a 62-31 drubbing by South Africa in Bologna.

Johan Erasmus, Pieter Rossouw and James Small each scored two tries and Justin Swart, Os du Randt and Dick Muir one apiece for the world champions while Henry Honiball kicked 17 points. Italy, who trailed just 22-20 at half-time, scored three tries through Paulo Caccari, Julian Gardner and Ivan Francescato, and the boot of Diego Domin-guez supplied the other 16 points.

"We've given Italy the keys to enter the house. Now Italy just has to show it's capable of turning the key," said the IB chairman Vernon Pugh after yesterday's meeting with Giancarlo Dondi of the Italian federation.

Gloucester's European Conference campaign ended in Paris yesterday when they were hammered 53-22 by Stade Francais, who ran in eight tries.

Bedford opened up a four-point lead in Allied Dunbar Premiership Division Two with an 11-try, 77-3 demolition of last season's promotion rivals Coventry. Ben Whetstone claimed a hat-trick of tries and Mike Rayer, the former Wales full-back, contributed 32 points to Bedford's tally. Waterloo, who prevailed in a 15-14 thriller at Blackheath, and London Scottish, 27-13 winners at Orrell, lead the chasing pack.

Lawrence Dallaglio, the new England captain, expects Wasps to react to three successive League defeats "like wounded animals" when they face the holders Brive today in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals. The Wasps captain described the fixture as "our biggest game of the season" and added: "We hit back to win the League last season after a similar run of three defeats."

Leicester are aiming for their second successive away win over the French side Pau in today's other quarter-final but are likely to be without their new South African lock, Fritz van Heerden, who is still subject to a contract registration dispute.

The transfer-listed England full-back Tim Stimpson looks certain to miss his fourth consecutive match when Newcastle entertain Castres in a European Conference quarter-final because of a persistent thigh injury.

New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina have agreed in Buenos Aires to campaign for the introduction of a sin bin at Test matches. South Africa and Argentina have also thrown their weight behind a joint bid by Australia and New Zealand to host the 2003 World Cup.