Five cited as Swansea square up to French

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The Independent Online

Oh dear, what a pantomime. It hardly required two crystal balls and a mug full of tea-leaves to predict that disciplinary citings would start flying hither and thither across the Channel once the Heineken Cup started getting serious. Sure enough, the warring parties of Swansea and Stade Français slipped straight into tit-for-tat mode yesterday by charging no fewer than five of the players involved in Saturday's wonderfully competitive set-to at St Helen's with crimes of violence.

Oh dear, what a pantomime. It hardly required two crystal balls and a mug full of tea-leaves to predict that disciplinary citings would start flying hither and thither across the Channel once the Heineken Cup started getting serious. Sure enough, the warring parties of Swansea and Stade Français slipped straight into tit-for-tat mode yesterday by charging no fewer than five of the players involved in Saturday's wonderfully competitive set-to at St Helen's with crimes of violence.

Two Swansea forwards, the hooker Garin Jenkins and the lock Andy Moore, had their collars felt by the Parisians for unspecified acts of skullduggery.

Given that Colin Charvis, the All Whites' international flanker, had already been banned for two matches for treating the Stade outside-half, Diego Dominguez, to a bunch of fives, the chances of the Welshmen fielding a representative pack in L'Aquila this weekend suddenly looked very slim indeed.

Swansea, who won a compelling encounter 18-16, would have been happy to bury the hatchet with Stade. However, the moment it transpired that their opponents had no intention of co-operating, the home side weighed in with some naming and shaming of their own. They cited Dominguez for kicking Charvis in the unmentionables - an assault, they claimed, that provoked the wing forward into an act of purest retaliation - along with two Stade Français forwards, Fabrice Landreau and David Auradou. Landreau was said to have punched Moore and stamped on Tyrone Maullin (busy chap) while his colleague was accused of kicking Maullin.

At some point, rugby's authorities will realise that the whole citing culture is causing serious, perhaps irreparable damage to a sport that has enough problems already. The "citing commissioner" system used in last year's World Cup was daft enough: embarrassingly inconsistent at best, downright unfair at worst. Unfortunately, the custodians of the Heineken Cup have dropped a bigger clanger by awarding citing powers to the clubs themselves. This outbreak of nonsense - "If you cite two, we'll cite three" - could hardly be more juvenile.

The hearings are likely to take place on Thursday, by which time the board members of European Rugby Cup Ltd will surely have made a final ruling on another undignified affair: the eligibility ruckus over Peter Rogers, the Cardiff prop. Cardiff are "extremely confident" that Rogers will make his club debut against Saracens at Vicarage Road on Saturday. If he does, the Saracens hierarchy will probably go ballistic.

Why, they will ask, should Rogers get a reprieve and not Tim Horan, their Wallaby centre, who has also fallen foul of ERC's registration regulations? In fairness to Cardiff, the two cases are entirely different: Horan is ineligible because he was not registered to play rugby in England, let alone Europe, due to a clerical error by his club. The Welshmen, on the other hand, were assured by ERC sources that Rogers' late move from Newport would not prevent his turning out for his new employers.

All the same, the next 48 hours or so will require some nifty diplomatic footwork from those charged with making the best of a sorry business. Happy days.

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