Lions players' rest row rumbles on

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The Independent Online

Yesterday, both sides indulged in claim and counter-claim, with the Rugby Football Union declaring that a full report would be considered by its management board on 21 September. An interim report on last weekend's shenanigans in the Guinness Premiership, when five Lions started club matches and stayed on the field long enough to be credited with a full appearance despite being regarded by the RFU as unavailable, has been submitted to the union's chief executive, Francis Baron.

Twickenham also issued its official list of Lions tourists governed by the 'élite player' accord. This list identified five players - Martin Corry, of Leicester, Jason Robinson, Mark Cueto, Charlie Hodgson and Andrew Sheridan of Sale - as acting outside the agreement, if indeed there is one, by turning out last weekend. The RFU take the view than none should play this weekend, along with eight others, three of whom - Matthew Dawson, of Wasps, Jonny Wilkinson, of Newcastle, and Julian White, of Leicester - were involved in the first round of Premiership matches, but spent less than 40 minutes on the field and therefore did not actually play under the rules that may or may not exist.

The clubs responded by saying they were continuing to manage players' match-time on a case-by-case basis, adding that their on-field activity was a matter for England Rugby Ltd, the joint body set up between the RFU and Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation representing the Premiership teams. The next meeting of ERL is on 22 September.

One of the English Lions who has yet to take the field this term, the Northampton hooker and captain Steve Thompson, has signed a new contract to stay at Franklin's Gardens until the end of the 2008-09 campaign

Meanwhile, the North-umberland referee Dave Pearson has been promoted to the international Board's A-list and will control the Ireland-Italy fixture in this season's Six Nations.

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