Ruck and Maul: Concussion claims could be pushing the bounds of credibility

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The Independent Online

It's been a while since Bloodgate, so high time for another episode of CSI: European Rugby Cup. The latest case file belongs to Northampton's Springbok prop Brian Mujati, who will be available to play against Bath on Saturday after completing a six-week ban for pushing a referee in the back. The maximum sentence for "physical abuse of match officials" is a life ban, and the "low-end entry point" is six months. So why the leniency? Mujati admitted shoving Nigel Owens 62 minutes into a Heineken Cup match in Perpignan, but successfully argued he was suffering concussion and "confused, disorientated and unwell" when he mistook the referee's green shirt for Perpignan maroon. A few minutes after the push, Mujati vomited on the pitch and, complaining of nausea, was examined by David Cleal, the Northampton doctor, who suspected concussion but allowed him to complete the rest of the game. Mujati recalled Dr Cleal telling him the team "already had a prop off the field and there was no one else to play prop amongst their replacements". Dr Cleal testified he had said no such thing. Hang on, so when Mujati pushed Owens, was he concussed or not? "Concussive episodes often show changing symptoms over a relatively brief period of time," Dr Cleal said. OK, we'll go along with that. So the only mystery is why Owens didn't send him off in the first place.

Centre of sexual attention

Lions centre Jamie Roberts is, according to the 'Western Mail' website, "officially the Sexiest Man in Wales". What qualified the countdown of "the hottest 50 Welsh males" as "official" was unclear but Roberts declared it was "pretty cool" to be top. Second place went to well-fed über-warbler Bryn Terfel (yes, this is Wales), with Martyn Williams, Ryan Jones and Mike Phillips the also-rans coming in at Nos 50, 44 and 43 respectively, Gavin "indefinite leave" Henson rated 36th and "baby-faced" Leigh Halfpenny placed a creditable 13th.

Seeking chorus of approval

Staying with the young and the gorgeous, The Saturdays singer Una Healy has popped up on YouTube duetting with her boyfriend and (very occasional) England back Ben Foden. Their acoustic, sofa-based version of 'Forever is Over' is, as the Sexiest Man in Wales might say, pretty cool. Perhaps if Johnno continues not to pick Foden, the boy could get a Twickenham gig providing the pre-match entertainment. The stunt at England versus Argentina of getting fans to hold up purple cards, making out the logo of the kit manufacturers, showed how to get the warm-up wrong. Similarly, Springboks are still seething over Ras Dumisani's stumbling take on Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika before the Test against France in Toulouse. One day, somewhere, a national union might try an experiment before kick-off: utter silence. Just let the crowd have a beer and a chat. Failing that, Ruck and Maul recommends the 2007 World Cup overture, Jean Michel Jarre's 'Industrial Revolutions' – unrivalled as an atmosphere builder.

Astonishing feat of Tinner

When it comes to cunning stunts, Saracens hit the jackpot with Welwyn Fifth XV hooker Stuart Tinner's success in Tuesday night's crossbar challenge at Wembley. Days of priceless publicity followed the 30-metre kick that won Tinner £250,000. He had kicked in his socks to avoid "messing up my work shoes". Bootiful.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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