Rugby Union: Worcester dispute points loss

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The Independent Online
WORCESTER ARE considering taking legal action against the Rugby Football Union after being deducted two points for fielding an unregistered player in an Allied Dunbar Premiership Two match last month.

It happened in their 48-22 victory at Wakefield when they selected their new hooker, Tom Robinson, on the bench. The player subsequently came on for Gary Clarke in the 78th minute. Last night the Worcester secretary, Adrian Harling, accused Twickenham Services, who are responsible for the registration of players, of substantial administrative errors in the registration procedure over Robinson. The loss of the two points still leaves Worcester in second place behind Bristol, but they are now only ahead of Coventry on points difference.

The Second Division was a hive of off-field activity on the registration front. Leeds, at present lying in 10th place, are now looking at the possibility of playing the Australian rugby league wing Wendell Sailor as an amateur, after resigning themselves to the fact that the Brisbane Broncos man will not be granted a work permit to play as a professional in the union code because he has not played an international match in the 15-man code in the last 18 months. Leeds were not prepared to reveal exactly how they will go about arranging Sailor's amateur career.

Further south and a division higher, Gloucester announced yesterday that they had parted company with their forwards coach, Keith Richardson. At 53 days it has to be one of the shortest lived roles to date in the professional era.

Their team manager, John Fidler, said yesterday: "Richard Hill [director of rugby] and I had a meeting at the beginning of the week and made the decision with the full backing of the directors. Everyone had seen over the last few games that it hasn't been right in the forwards and we want to go back to where we were before. Unfortunately, that means moving Keith on."

Richardson was self employed, taken on in a consultancy role on 7 September, almost four years after leaving Kingsholm to join the Harlequins coaching team, before taking charge at Newbury. He and Hill had worked together with England A and Richardson now coaches England Under 21. Gloucester are turning back to John Brain, who was taking the forwards prior to being promoted in his full-time job working for the Trading Standards department. Because he found it impossible to juggle a full-time career with a part- time job Brain was forced to give it up, but now Gloucester have decided to re-schedule certain sessions with the forwards in order to accommodate Brain's job and have him back at the helm.

On the playing front Mark Mapletoft, the England fly-half, has recovered from a chest injury sustained against Wasps at the beginning of the month and returns to the bench for Sunday's match away to Richmond. But the French international Philippe Saint-Andre strained a thigh muscle scoring his try against London Scottish last weekend and Rob Jewell comes in on the left wing.

The Gloucester captain, Dave Sims, steps down to allow Rob Fidler to start at lock, but Hill insisted England's hero of the disastrous summer tour of the Southern Hemisphere has not been dropped. The centre Richard Tombs assumes leadership.

Pontypridd have put their interest in the Bedford flanker Jason Forster on hold. They flew out to Treviso yesterday with a club spokesman, Cenydd Thomas, saying: "We will continue talks next week."

Geoff Cooke, the former England coach and now director of rugby at Bedford, said last night: "The ball is now in the Pontypridd court. I have suggested a sensible and appropriate fee and they have said they will get back to me."