Ruck and Maul: Cipriani has full backing of the Rebels but there may be a stand-off
Sunday 21 February 2010
When Danny Cipriani's move to Australia was confirmed on Friday morning, Wasps' executive chairman Mark Rigby was not so much up a gumtree as climbing a mountain, on the French leg of fellow club director (and fellow former Wasps back-rower) Lawrence Dallaglio's Cycle Slam. With a target of raising £1m for Sport Relief and other charities, the pair were pedalling north to Provence while the departing Cipriani was tying up his long trip south to join Melbourne Rebels at the end of the season. "Rod Macqueen and his coaching staff are intending to play Cipriani at full-back, the position he currently fills at London Wasps," said the Rebels' media handout. That'll be the Cipriani selected at fly-half today against Saracens and for his last four club matches against Sale, Racing Métro, Roma and Leicester. Communication problems already, Cips?
Evans above, it's a miracle
Chris Evans has been keeping his BBC Radio audience abreast of his second cousin Thom, the Scotland wing who broke his neck playing against Wales last weekend. By a strange coincidence, Chris was at the match; a few minutes after seeing Thom taken off on a stretcher (the initial reports were of a leg injury) he was kicking goals with fellow presenter Jonny Saunders as guests of Wales's kit manufacturer. The truth of Thom's injury, which has since required two operations in a Cardiff hospital, quickly emerged and Chris wrote in his BBC blog on Monday: "This is dedicated to anyone who spends their working day fixing other people... In short, he [Thom] broke his neck and they saved his life. Not only that but the expertise with which he was carried from the field, transported to the hospital and then operated on and cared for means he should make a full recovery. Something quite miraculous, if you could have seen the extent of the devastation sustained by the top of his spine". An update on Friday revealed: "Thom my cuz called yesterday from hospital to have a chat. The guy is a legend, officially now a hero. Life is sweet – look at the good in your life. Don't delay, do it today."
France win numbers game
France have so far justified their pre-Championship odds as favourites to win the Six Nations, so what to make of coach Marc Lièvremont's status as Test rugby's top tinkerer? When the prop Luc Ducalcon came on against Scotland a fortnight ago – and promptly got injured – he was the 72nd player chosen in Lièvremont's two years and 23 matches in the job. Ruck and Maul yearns always to lend some context, so let's look at the other major teams in the same period from February 2008 to now. England are second on the meddle-o-meter, Matt Mullan last week becoming the 68th player picked in 23 matches. England and France have the largest playing populations. There is a significant gap to New Zealand (55 players in 29 matches), Wales (54 in 24), Ireland (52 in 22), South Africa and Scotland (49 in 25 and 20 respectively) and Australia (a comparatively stable 43 in 28 matches). National tours which ran alongside last summer's Lions tour bumped up the Home Union's totals a little, but the message is that the more players you have to choose from, the more you choose. And, we guess, the more who can get injured.
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