Ruck and Maul: Clinically deaf Cohen signs up to help hard of hearing

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The Independent Online

Ben Cohen, the Sale and England wing who is clinically deaf, is helping to publicise a series of video clips of signing for rugby players. The signs for such words and phrases as tackle, pass, attack, scrummage and first aid are designed for coaches to communicate better with deaf and hard-of-hearing players and can be seen at Cohen spoke about his deafness for the first time in a national newspaper in The Independent on Sunday last month and he told Ruck and Maul: "Everyone in rugby knows me as 'Eh?' because of my deafness. It didn't stop me becoming a professional player but it's never been easy. In a quiet room I'm fine but I was on the team bus down to Gloucester on Friday and with the other players chatting I had to strain to hear the person next to me. I've also got tinnitus – a permanent ringing in the ears – which doesn't help. If the ability to sign rugby words helps more kids get into the game, it's got to be good."

Tigers who came to tea

Say hello to Boris Baloo, Marcos Mip and Danny Merangi – and if the first names sound familiar, they should be. They're characters based on Leicester Tigers players Messrs Stankovich, Ayerza and Hipkiss and they appear in a new children's book written by the assistant coach and flanker Ben Herring. The opening passage reads: "Let me tell you the story of Boris Baloo/Who is stronger than me, even stronger than you/He's so strong he can pick up a big London bus/I would not mess with Boris or cause him a fuss." You get the idea. 'Boris Baloo' is on sale at the club, details on Tigers' website, with proceeds to the Matt Hampson Trust.

Dowson sinks leaders

The real Tigers are top of the Guinness Premiership, despite losing 19-3 to Northampton last night. The Saints back-rower Phil Dowson scored the only try of the match, Stephen Myler kicking four penalties and a conversion. Jeremy Staunton kicked a penalty for Leicester. Gloucester hammered Sale 47-3 at Kingsholm. Lesley Vainikolo scored two of his side's seven tries – Akapusi Qera, Nicky Robinson, James Simpson-Daniel and Andy Hazell also crossed the Sale line and Gloucester were awarded a penalty try. Charlie Hodgson kicked a penalty for Sale.

Not such a Goode debut

It may be beyond even Herring's imaginings to dream up the next twist in the career of a former Tiger, Andy Goode, recently with Brive in France and due to return to the Premiership with Worcester next season (assuming they stay up). Goode is filling in time with a short stint in the Super 14 on loan to the Natal Sharks – and short it was on Friday when the England fly-half's debut against the Crusaders in Christchurch lasted five minutes before he high-tackled Dan Carter and went to the sin bin. In yesterday's Super 14 action another well travelled No 10, Carlos Spencer, had his homecoming to New Zealand after five years in England ruined by a 33-18 defeat for his Johannesburg-based Lions by the unbeaten Hurricanes in Wellington. There were prosperous trips by Kiwis to the east and west coasts of Australia: the Blues downed the Reds 27-18 in Brisbane and the Chiefs made it 109 points in two games with a 37-19 win over Western Force in Perth.