Rugby Union: Stadium crew apply to work 24-hour days

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THERE ARE tremors in the vicinity of Cardiff Arms Park as the Millennium Stadium, which will be the focus for the 1999 Rugby World Cup to be hosted by the Welsh Rugby Union, begins to take shape. The fate of the largest sporting construction project in this country for the last 75 years would appear to lie in the hands of Cardiff County Council.

The construction company Laing, who are in charge of the pounds 121m project, have warned that unless they are permitted round-the-clock work then they cannot guarantee meeting the completion date, set at 16 June, 1999.

An application by Laing for 24-hour working has been deferred by the council until 30 September while more consultation with the public is carried out; residents in neighbouring Westgate Street are fearful that their lives will be disrupted by the all-night working, although Laing have offered to install secondary glazing to help cut out the noise.

Laing have said that if 24-hour working was not allowed then it would not be able to keep the project on track. According to a spokesperson for Laing, the 24-hour working for certain areas of the project had been incorporated into the original scheduling." To date everyone insists that the 72,500-seater stadium is on schedule and the marketing is geared up for the inaugural match between Wales and South Africa on 26 June next year.

A little earlier than that, one or two players have discovered that they will be unable to meet their recovery schedules. Richmond captain Ben Clarke, who injured his left shoulder against Gloucester last week, misses a return to his old stamping ground at Bath after failing to recover in time. Scott Quinnell is set for a return although John Kingston, Richmond's director of rugby, is not naming his side until tomorrow and there are signs that changes may be made following last week's defeat at their new home in Reading.

And Bath's stand-in captain, Phil de Glanville, who has led the side in their opening two Allied Dunbar Premiership matches, finds himself dropped to the bench for the clash. The former England captain's place goes to the Ireland international Kevin Maggs, signed from Bristol in the summer, who has been playing out of his skin for the club's second team. Meanwhile, flanker Ben Sturnham, signed from Saracens in the summer, is moved up to the second row with Nigel Redman.

Another former captain in the news is Lawrence Dallaglio. He is ready to make a long-awaited return for Wasps at London Irish tomorrow after making a complete recovery from a shoulder injury.

Dallaglio, who gave up the leadership of Wasps at the end of last season and stood down as England captain for the summer tour, has not played since the Tetley's Bitter Cup final last May. Wasps will also be without concussion victim Gareth Rees, whose place at fly-half goes to Josh Lewsey, with Jon Ufton coming in at full-back. The Exiles give the England Under- 21 prop Michael Worsley his first start in the Premiership. He takes over from Peter Rogers, who joined the England prop Jason Leonard at a disciplinary hearing in London last night after being sent off against Gloucester on 5 September.

Harlequin Leonard was facing the prospect of a lengthy ban following his dismissal for alleged stamping against Northampton last weekend and that could jeopardise his England career. A 60-day ban, the statutory punishment for such an offence, would free Leonard for action just two days before they play the Netherlands on 14 November.

Another player back in action, and favour, is Gloucester and England hooker Phil Greening, who also went on England's nightmare trip to the Southern Hemisphere. Greening has come in ahead of close rivals Neil McCarthy and Chris Fortey for Sunday's game at home to West Hartlepool.