Clohessy 'lucky to be alive' after explosion

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The Ireland prop Peter Clohessy yesterday said he is thankful to be alive after being burned in an explosion at his home on Monday evening.

The 36-year-old, who played his final international for Ireland at the Stade de France on Saturday, will see a plastic surgeon in Galway later today having received burns to his arm and face when a garden bonfire he was tending at his Limerick home caused an explosion.

The Munster front row said: "I was burning rubbish when there was a loud explosion and the flames burned my arm and the side of my face. I rolled around the garden to extinguish the flames but by then they had burned into my skin. I don't know what exploded in the fire, there may have been an aerosol can in it, but there was an almighty bang and I am lucky to be alive to tell the tale."

Clohessy is unlikely to be fit to face Castres in Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final in Beziers on 27 April. "At this stage I am extremely doubtful for the match. I am a quick healer but it all depends on what the plastic surgeon says."

Olivier Magne believes it would be to France's detriment if they were to become too disciplined.

"It is good for us to keep our Latin temperament, that reactivity to the games which are important," he said.

France became the first team to win the Grand Slam in Six Nations rugby, but Magne reckons there is room for improvement still. "Even if by the end we could raise our game against Ireland and England, you must not forget that we had a difficult start [a 33-12 win against Italy]. The balance is still fragile."

New Zealand Rugby Union officials hope to appeal to the International Rugby Board's sense of history and tradition when they press their case to be allowed to co-host the World Cup in 2003.

The IRB is set to make a final decision next Wednesday on whether to allow Australia to act as sole hosts or insist upon the original co-hosting idea involving New Zealand. With Kiwi officials now able to present stadia that are 97 per cent free of existing corporate contracts, the plan is to argue that tradition and culture should not be overlooked for financial reasons.

The NZRFU chief executive, David Rutherford, said: "If it comes down to money then I think it is pretty clear that it is always going to be a problem for a country like New Zealand."