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."

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

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

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable