Ruck and Maul: Cockerill isn't one to crow before Tigers' title summit with Saracens

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The Independent Online

Whether or not Brendan Venter gets his day in the Twickenham sun – the Saracens director of rugby's appeal against his touchline ban is likely to be heard on Wednesday – two old rivals will go head to head at Saturday's Guinness Premiership final. Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill was the hooker in the Tigers team beaten 25-21 at good old Bramley Road (one of Saracens' less posh homes before they began renting Wembley) the week Nigel Wray was unveiled as Sarries' new owner in November 1995. Leicester lost the league title that season by a point to Bath. These days it is down to a play-off final with 38 medals for each club to distribute as they see fit. Cockerill, who assisted Pat Howard, Marcelo Loffreda and Heyneke Meyer before becoming top Tiger in January 2009, is not interested in baubles. Of the medals from his playing days, he told Ruck and Maul: "My kids play with them, they're strewn around the house, all that stuff is semi-missing now. And now I'm a coach we don't get medals. We've never had them, it's not important. Only the players get them at Leicester, they get the silverware, it's the players' game." A useful motto, perhaps, when so much attention is being focused on the wrong side of the touchline.

Brits will be abroad

Wray is still Saracens' chairman, though much of the investment now comes from South Africa. The multi-millionaire Johann Rupert flew in for last Sunday's semi-final at Northampton, having been stymied by the volcanic ash cloud recently, and he will be at Twickenham for the final. Any plans to include two Saracens – Schalk Brits and Ernst Joubert – in the Springbok squad announced last night for next month's Test in Cardiff fell on deaf ears. The pair, both named in the Premiership team of the season, were not keen on a one-off appearance and booked a holiday cruising around the Mediterranean.

Nice little urner

Talking of ash and Twickenham, there was quite a scene at HQ last weekend when a team contesting a junior club cup final took the chance to bring one of their, er, former players with them. An urn was upturned to create a dusty cloud near the halfway line, at which point the head groundsman went potty. The calcium apparently does terrible things to grass.

Make up and mend

Saracens had a boggle-eyed break from training the other day to cheer a photo session involving England's women in playing kit, complete with hairdressing and make-up. In a publicity drive aimed at the forthcoming World Cup in Surrey in August, 11 brave souls from women's lifestyle magazines did a boot camp with the England squad including an hour's skills session with head coach Gary Street. Mauling practice cost one editor a black eye. The England full-back Fiona Pocock is also to feature in a fashion shoot in 'Grazia'. World Cup tickets can be bought at ticketmaster.co.uk/WomensRugbyWorldCup.

Food for thought

Bank on a Kiwi front-rower to keep us sane. Crusaders prop Ben Franks was asked on NZ Radio what he would save if his house was burning down. "It'd depend what time it was." Eh? "If it was the morning, I'd save my breakfast. Middle of the day, my lunch. Do you see where I'm going with this?"

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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