Six-week ban for Ellis over Carter tackle

By Chris Hewett

Harry Ellis of Leicester, the best scrum-half in England until Danny Care accelerated into view and still a central plank in Martin Johnson's planning for the red-rose way ahead, will not have much match practice ahead of the Six Nations Championship.

In fact, he will be lucky to have any at all. Ellis has been suspended for six weeks after tipping Daniel Carter, the most valuable player in world rugby, on his precious head during a fierce Heineken Cup contest in Perpignan last weekend, and unless he mounts a successful appeal, he will not have a chance to play before international business resumes in early February.

Ellis, who admitted a charge of dangerous tackling, had already been banned for a week by his club, but a three-man European Rugby Cup disciplinary panel, sitting in Dublin, decided the player had committed a "top of the range" offence and dished out a heavy punishment. He will miss Leicester's important Heineken pool match at Ospreys next month, as well as a fistful of Premiership fixtures.

With the domestic league as closely contested as it is – the top seven clubs are covered by as many points – there is no good time to take the field without four members of the current England squad. But this must be the least bad moment for Leicester to find themselves without Ellis, Dan Hipkiss, Tom Croft and Jordan Crane. Their opponents at Welford Road this afternoon are Newcastle, who have been struggling all season and now visit the least hospitable club venue in Christendom with a squad not so much weakened by illness as ravaged by it.

While the Tigers are sufficiently blessed with talent to make do and mend on the personnel front – their resources allow them to give Hipkiss, Croft and Crane the week's rest stipulated under the Elite Player Squad agreement between the clubs and the governing body and still put together a roster of replacements including Martin Castrogiovanni, Martin Corry, Tom Varndell and Seru Rabeni – the Tynesiders are right up against it. Rory Clegg, the gifted young outside-half currently filling in for the stricken Jonny Wilkinson, has definitely been ruled out, as has the experienced back-row forward Adam Balding. Others will be assessed shortly before kick-off.

Gloucester have also copped it on the virus front, to the extent that their entire midfield – the captain Mike Tindall, the goal-kicking centre Olly Barkley and the fast-developing outside-half Ryan Lamb – missed much of this week's training, having been ordered to stay home and keep their germs to themselves. All three have been named in the line-up for today's first-versus-second meeting with London Irish, the leaders, at the Madejski Stadium, although it remains to be seen whether they find their way on to the field. Happily, there are no doubts surrounding the West Country club's latest international recruit, the All Black prop Greg Somerville, who takes his place in the front row.

London Irish are in the rudest of health: they have not lost a Premiership match since September and are ambling along at 50 points a game in the European Challenge Cup. But those travelling to Reading in the hope of seeing the brightest of the Exiles' younger generation – the midfielder Shane Geraghty, the prop Alex Corbisiero, the flanker Richard Thorpe – take it to Gloucester from the start will be disappointed. If they feature, it will be off the bench.

Bristol, glued to the foot of the table and operating on a frayed shoestring of a budget, are not in a position to give part-time roles to full-time talents, and will throw the kitchen sink at Worcester when they visit Sixways. Richard Hill, master of the minor miracle, believes this is a game his side can win, and has been summoning the furies all week. "Worcester have spent a lot of money trying to break into the top six but are still in the bottom half of the table and could be dragged right down into it," Hill said yesterday. "There's a lot of pressure on them, but this situation is nothing new to us and we're not nervous. We know how to deal with it."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain