Leicester look at legal action over White slur

Leicester 38 Worcester 5
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The Independent Online

Leicester Tigers are burning bright with indignation at the lack of action by the European Rugby Cup over remarks made by Ospreys coaches about one of their players after the Heineken Cup match between the two sides last month.

The comments, made by the Ospreys’ Jonathan Humphreys and Sean Holley, named an innocent player, Julian White, as the culprit in an eye-gouging incident for which a different Leicester player, Martin Corry was subsequently cited and found guilty.

Corry was handed a six-week ban but Tigers feel that by naming White as the guilty party immediately after the match, which was widely reported at the time, Ospreys have brought the game into disrepute.

Chief executive Peter Wheeler’s programme notes stated: “We have not received any satisfactory response from ERC in relation to the Ospreys’ coaches comments regarding any disciplinary action they [ERC] will be taking. We will continue to seek a proper conclusion to this affair, which we believe brought the game into disrepute.”

Yesterday, Wheeler said: “That was an ERC press conference at which Ospreys made some very serious accusations about Julian and by extension the club. We are not a cheap-shot team. We are known to be physically hard and tough, the things you have to be in rugby, but not that sort of thing.”

Late yesterday an ERC spokesman intimated that they regarded the matter as closed because Ospreys had apologised. Wheeler had said if ERC did nothing, then they might take action themselves.“I think we’d take legal advice as to what we could do in support of Julian. He would have the final say because it is his name and his reputation going through the mud.”

At least Tigers enhanced their reputation on the pitch with an exciting, if error-strewn, comprehensive Guinness Premiership win over Worcester on Saturday. One of the architects of the victory was Sam Vesty, something of a stand-in stand-off this season because Tigers’ first choices are England’s Toby Flood and the talented South African Derek Hougaard.

At least Vesty can point to the fact that in the last two matches, against Wasps last week and now Worcester, when he has started at fly-half, Leicester have ended with a try-scoring bonus point each time, the only two occasions this season that they have managed to score four tries in game.

Vesty explained: “We were given a bit of a licence to throw the ball around and that is exactly how I like to play. It is not really throwing the ball around, we were more pragmatic than that, we were using the ball and scoring tries in the process.”

Vesty scored the bonus-point try, one of five for Tigers, and throughout the afternoon ensured that the powerful Leicester backs had a good supply of ball. The fact that many of the recipients chose to spill every other pass was not Vesty’s fault.

But he said: “It was frustrating to see passes spilled when we were in promising positions. But when you try to throw the ball around you are going to make mistakes. We will get better.”

Leicester: Tries Ayerza, Tuilagi, Youngs, Vesty, Smith; Conversions Dupuy 2, Vesty 3; Penalty Dupuy. Worcester: Try Bowley.

Leicester: G Murphy (J Murphy, 54); S Hamilton, M Smith, A Mauger (capt), A Tuilagi (A Erinle, 68); S Vesty, J Dupuy (B Youngs, 59); M Ayerza, B Kayser (G Chuter, 66), M Castrogiovanni (J White, 50), L Deacon (T Croft, 67), B Kay, C Newby, B Woods, J Crane (B Deacon, 58).

Worcester: W Walker; R Gear, D Rasmussen, L Crichton (A Grove, 40+6), M Garvey; J Carlisle (M Benjamin, 72), M Powell (R Powell, 76); D Morris (M Mullan, h-t), C Fortey, T Taumoepeau (A Lutui, 62), W Bowley, C Gillies (G Rawlinson, h-t), T Wood (N Talei, 76), P Sanderson (capt), K Horstmann.

Referee: R Poite (France).