Ruck and Maul: Abramovich chips in as statue of prince finds resting place

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The Independent Online

A statue of Prince Obolensky, one of the game's most charismatic figures, will be unveiled in Ipswich on Wednesday by his niece, Princess Alexandra Obolensky. The campaign has been years in the planning and the £50,000 raised was from private donations, including contributions from Chelsea Football Club's owner, Roman Abramovich – who wasn't born when Obolensky was lighting up Twickenham – and the Rugby Football Union. The dashing wing, who was born in Russia in 1916, volunteered for the RAF in 1939 and was killed the following year when his Hurricane crash-landed at a base near Ipswich. He was buried in the town. There is one odd footnote. The image of Obolensky will stand in Cromwell Square. Oliver was not a noted admirer of royalty.

Crumbs, Shane's lost his head!

A less permanent likeness of another wing who captured the public imagination was unveiled at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last week. It is a life-sized pie of Shane Williams, which means they have used less ingredients than if the model had been, say, Ryan Jones, the Wales captain. Unfortunately, three days into a tour of Wales, Shane lost his head, and the decapitated pie had to be diverted to a "food artist" in Gloucestershire. After the Six Nations, the pie will be auctioned for charity.

Gavin needs to talk a good game

Some Welsh supporters, such as Charlotte Church, might have thought that Gavin Henson was good enough to eat. Sadly, Henson is becoming the Andy Farrell of Wales. There are more lows than highs for the centre of attention as he spends more time with the medics than the team. A serious ankle injury, followed by a two-match ban, imposed by the Ospreys for missing training, has been compounded by a calf strain which has so far kept him out of the Six Nations. With Henson it seems to be as much mental as physical. "We are working with Gavin to get him to talk more and get confidence and self-belief in his ability," Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, said. "Gavin expresses himself by the way he looks on the field. Off it he's a very quiet and private person." Henson the wallflower needs to get back on the dance floor.

Force is not with Mitchell

It doesn't look as if the force is with John Mitchell, formerly of England and the All Blacks. The head coach has been put on restricted duties by the Western Force club in Australia after his relationships with players and coaches broke down. "He will no longer have the final say on selection," the club said. "There's always a better way of doing things," Mitchell said. "If you tend to plateau, then you will get replaced." In Perth, the Force lost their opening game in the Super 14 to Auckland Blues.

Haka verdict is a right result

The New Zealand government have agreed to acknowledge Maori ownership of the haka and to pay "millions of dollars" to protect the war dance from commercial exploitation. The Manchester-based law firm Mathys and Squire have been involved in the case. As intellectual property experts, they also work for Chelsea FC. There could be an oxymoron there.

t.glover@independent.co.uk

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