Rugby Union: Townsend to miss summer tour please

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The Independent Online
THE SCOTLAND stand-off Gregor Townsend is to miss his country's summer tour of South Africa.

The Brive player was a major influence in Scotland's Five Nations triumph this season, becoming the first man to score tries in all four matches, plus the friendly victory over Italy in March. However, a hectic workload has taken its toll on the player and Townsend will sit out the four-match non-Test tour in favour of resting ahead of autumn's World Cup campaign.

Joel Stransky plays his first match for 12 weeks when the Allied Dunbar Premiership champions, Leicester, visit Swansea in an Anglo-Welsh friendly today.

The South African stand-off has been sidelined with knee ligament damage, an injury he first sustained before Christmas, and missed Leicester's victorious title run-in as a result. Leicester will predictably rest the majority of their big names, although there are starts for the internationals Dave Lougheed, Dorian West and Graham Rowntree. In addition, there is a first-team debut for the 25-year-old Australian lock Angus Innes, who became a Cambridge University Blue during this season's Varsity match.

John Pugh, the brother of International Rugby Board chairman Vernon Pugh, is a candidate for Vernon's position as a general representative on the Welsh Rugby Union.

Vernon will quit as the WRU chairman at the annual general meeting at Port Talbot on 10 July, but the other four members - Sam Simon, Les Williams and the former Wales internationals Alan Phillips and David Pickering - are standing again.

Seeking election along with John Pugh are Howard Watkins, Ken Parfitt, Roland Griffiths and the former referee Alan Barham. Nine candidates will be fighting for five positions.

New Zealand's 26-year-old goal-kicking scrum-half Elton Moncrieff, who has impressed in three trial games at Kingsholm, has signed a two-year contract for Gloucester, who have regular scrum-half Scott Benton on the transfer list.

The Scottish Rugby Union has raised pounds 1.2m in just two months from its 1999 debenture scheme. The offer was originally made exclusively to interest- free loan holders, whose financial support enabled the East Stand to be constructed in 1982. Now the offer is to be extended to holders of the (1991) Murrayfield debentures and irredeemable debentures, which date back to 1925.