Ruck and Maul: Déjà vu for Meehan after day of ecstasy and agony in France

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Steve Meehan, the Bath coach who has had a week to remember, or forget, is not a novice when it comes to dealing with prop forwards embroiled in a drugs scandal. Meehan spent four seasons at Stade Français and was there in 2002 when Peter de Villiers was accused of taking cocaine and ecstasy. De Villiers claimed his drink had been spiked on a night out. The French anti-doping officials said that only performance-enhancing drugs in out-of-competition testing were relevant, and the prop was suspended until the end of 2003 for bringing the game into disrepute. "It was a difficult moment for the club but we handled things pretty well," Meehan recalls. "The guys supported Peter but got on with the season. Peter later resumed his Test career with France." Matt Stevens will be envious; in-competition cocaine use carries a two-year ban.

Any time, any place, anywhere

In England, any player can be tested for drugs anywhere at any time. There have been more than 1,700 RFU tests in and out of competition in the past four years, producing just 14 positive results. The RFU are the only union of the IRB to employ a full-time anti-doping officer: Gavin Dovey from Australia, who liaises with players, coaches and medical teams.

Strange bank business

The Royal Bank of Scotland may be up to their necks in debt, but it hasn't stopped them extending their sponsorship of the Six Nations by another four years at an estimated cost of £20m. "We recognise the need to ensure our sponsorship reflects the process of restructuring that the bank has under way," said a spokesman. "We are trying our best to strike a proper balance. The sponsorship has been selected to meet very specific business objectives within the six competing nations." So the corporate hospitality junket continues apace despite RBS having just recorded a loss of £28bn, the biggest in British corporate history. What happened to the "specific business objectives" thrown up by supporting the Six Nations?

Kids display great touch

Now is not the time to bury good news. The success of tag rugby – it evolved from touch rugby – for children is such that last week the game produced its millionth player. The mile-stone was reached at Allesley Primary School in Coventry, where England internationals Mark Cueto and Sarah Hunter were on hand to join in the celebrations. "Tag rugby is a great way to teach them the basics without the contact element," Cueto said. Hunter played tag rugby at school: "We also use it in senior training because it's good for the basics of passing, catching and running." Since the RFU launched their Yazoo tag programme two years ago, 10,000 primary schools across England have been involved and 40 per cent of the players are girls. Allesley received a cheque for £5,000, which will enable the school to send pupils to an international match at Twickenham.

t.glover@independent.co.uk

Comments