Ruck and Maul: Busy Blackett suspends judgement over Fuimaono-Sapolu tweets

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The Independent Online

Jeff Blackett has had a busy week. The Rugby Football Union disciplinary officer and Judge Advocate General was with David Cameron in Downing Street on Wednesday generating support for yesterday's Help for Heroes fund-raising match.

Blackett also appeared in print voicing his views on Charles Flint QC's report, which concluded that the RFU chairman Martyn Thomas had no disrepute case to answer for his actions in the sacking of the Union's chief executive John Steele last summer.

Ruck and Maul understands Blackett has yet to decide if Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's recent three-week RFU suspension for his Twitter antics will trigger the six-month suspended sentence given to the Samoan by Blackett during the Rugby World Cup. This despite Fuimaono-Sapolu's club Gloucester making private noises that they believe their star centre will be free to play on.

Robinson tops the pie charts

Less controversially, the Scotland coach Andy Robinson took to Twitter to answer fans' questions and confirmed that Tim Visser, the big Edinburgh wing who is one of the form players of the Pro 12, will be considered immediate by the Scots when he qualifies by residency in June.

Robinson also revealed his love of the cheese and onion pies – "I'm a vegetarian," he explained – available at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium. He may get a chance to eat some more if he goes back as a Lions coach in 2013.

Was Clive utterly wrong?

In January 1999 Roger Uttley was sacked from his part-time job as England manager in what was described by the RFU as a cost-cutting measure. It left Clive Woodward in charge of the coaching staff who went on to win the 2003 World Cup, in a job specification broadly similar to Martin Johnson's of the last three years.

But now the RFU, advised by the Professional Game Board, have decided Woodward's model was wrong and the current New Zealand and Wales set-ups (with Darren Shand and Alan Phillips as managers) are right. Of course it might be argued that it wasn't Johnson's job specification that was wrong, it was that the wrong man was given it.

Mallett hits the right notes

England have never had a foreign head coach (the closest they got was New Zealander John Mitchell, who took the forwards under Woodward, and Brian Smith, an Aussie, with the attack) and if Nick Mallett lands the job for June's three-Test tour to South Africa, they still won't.

Mallett was born in October 1956 above the music room at Haileybury public school in Hertfordshire, where his English father Anthony was teacher and cricket coach. Six weeks later the family emigrated to Rhodesia, and moved on to Cape Town while Mallett was still a boy.

He returned to England for three years at Oxford University, where he won two rugby Blues.

Slip showing with Euro balls

Stand by for another bout of balls belly-aching, à la Jonny Wilkinson in the World Cup.

An England player who scored a try in the second round of Heineken Cup matches complained he almost lost his grip as he went over the line and that the Adidas ball deployed in Europe is known commonly to be more slippery than the Gilbert one used in Premiership matches.

"But I don't want to say anything about it," pleaded the scorer in question. "This isn't the time to get controversial."

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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