Andy Hazell, the Gloucester flanker sent off for throwing a volley of punches at the Mont-de-Marsan prop Sébastien Ormaechea during a roughhouse Amlin Challenge Cup match in France five days ago, may be planning to make severe provocation the basis of his mitigation, but he will not be helped by the tournament's disciplinary machinery. Despite the Gloucester's allegations of dirty deeds by Mont-de-Marsan, no member of the home team will face a charge arising from the game.
The citing commissioner, John West of Ireland, had not raised any concerns over behaviour by the Mont-de-Marsan side when the 50-hour time limit expired on Sunday. A tournament spokesman indicated yesterday that Hazell would be the sole accused when he appears before an independent judicial officer at a hearing next week.
Hazell said after the game that he had been in danger of severe injury on three occasions during the contest, which Gloucester won 11-6. By way of supporting the long-serving forward's version of events, the West Country club's head coach, Nigel Davies, said he had serious issues over what happened in the build-up to his player's loss of self-control, adding that Hazell's eye was sufficiently sore to warrant medical inspection. It was tantamount to an accusation of gouging.
Two of the three Welsh teams in the elite Heineken Cup have injury concerns ahead of demanding fixtures in this weekend's second round of games. Cardiff Blues, hurting badly after failing to defend a big lead against struggling Sale, fear their captain Sam Warburton's serious finger dislocation may rule him out against Toulon, one of tournament favourites, at the Arms Park on Sunday.
Scarlets picked up four injuries during a heavy defeat at Clermont Auvergne. Both of their Wales centres, Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams, were hurt and it is not yet clear if they will recover in time to face the reigning champions Leinster in Llanelli on Saturday.
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- Mark Tucker