Rotherham's return to the Zurich Premiership looks assured after the Yorkshire side strolled to a 30-8 victory over Rugby in National League One yesterday. That result put them 12 points clear of second-placed Worcester who were unable to make any inroads into their rivals' lead despite thrashing Otley 71-14 at Sixways. Chris Garrard, Worcester's Australian wing, helped himself to five of his side's 11 tries while Tony Yapp, who also went over, landed eight conversions.
Exeter's outside hopes of promotion were virtually extinguished by their surprise 28-19 collapse away to the bottom club Henley.
Fifth-placed Bristol aim to consolidate their presence in the top half of the Premiership when they visit relegation-threatened Leeds today. The former Harlequins pair, Jamie Williams and Brendon Daniel, are expected to line up against the Tykes while the 25-year-old Argentine prop Emiliano Bergamaschi, who joined last week, will start on the bench. In addition, the former New Zealand A coach Peter Thorburn takes charge of the Bristol forwards for the first time.
Victory over Saracens two weeks ago took Leeds above Harlequins and off the foot of the table. But Leeds' director of rugby, Phil Davies, insists: "This is going to be one of the most difficult games of the season. Bristol have a big pack with an excellent line-out and good scrummagers."
Scotland's full-back Brendan Laney ran in a hat-trick of tries as Edinburgh extended Swansea's miserable season in the Welsh/Scottish League. The former All Blacks' forward Todd Blackadder also breached the champions' line as the visitors won 27-22. The Wales wing Daffyd James claimed a try as Bridgend beat Caerphilly 34-21.
The Irish Rugby Football Union have have decided to restructure their domestic league championship. The rise in stature of the provinces has forced the leading Irish clubs to compete in the AIB League for much of the season without their best players. That in turn has seen attendances fall sharply. Consequently, the current structure of three divisions of 16 teams each will be replaced by a top division of 14 and two lower divisions of 17 each. The change will be implemented over a two-season period from the end of the 2002-03 season.
Shannon lead the AIB League by two points after defeating Garryowen 22-15. Second-placed Cork Constitution also won away, 18-6 at Carlow.
Gordon Hunter, assistant coach to the All Blacks during the mid-1990s, has died after a long battle with cancer.Reuse content