Ruck and Maul: From running the line at Twickers to runs galore in Bangalore

The Irish referee Alan Lewis has had the week of his life. Formerly his country's most-capped cricketer, Lewis was a touch judge at last weekend's England v France match at Twickenham before paying his own passage to India to see Ireland's World Cup win over the English.

"To witness the greatest day in Irish cricket was brilliant," Lewis told Ruck and Maul from Bangalore, where he defrayed some of his costs by summarising for Test Match Special.

"I'm a huge TMS fan and being involved with Aggers, Vic Marks, Simon Hughes and dear old Geoffrey [Boycott] was just great."

Aggers listened in to the commentary from Twickenham and was surprised at the lack of swearing by players. Lewis suggested there might be more than the microphones were picking up. Another old English quickie was pivotal in Lewis's final appearance for Ireland in 1997.

On an end-of-season tour, Lewis, a top-order batter, played against the Duchess of Norfolk's XI at Arundel and anticipated hanging up his bat after the next match, against MCC at Lord's. But he whispered his retirement plans to Ireland's coach, Mike Hendrick, and was demoted to carrying the drinks.

Raising their game for charity

An Australian XV led by Wallaby great George Smith will meet a Pacific Barbarians side featuring All Black flanker Jerry Collins and former Wasps hooker Trevor Leota in a charity match at London Welsh this afternoon, with Munster's Doug Howlett and Sam Tuitupou among the spectators. Funds raised will go to the relief efforts in Queensland and Christchurch.

The latter city's 45,000-capacity AMI Stadium was flooded during the recent earthquake and there is a doubt over seven World Cup matches scheduled there this autumn, including England's opening pool games against Argentina and Georgia, and the potential quarter-final with France. Other fundraisers have seen Newcastle and Harlequins auctioning jerseys after Friday night's match at Kingston Park, while Leicester's Craig Newby, Thomas Waldrom and Christchurch-born Scott Hamilton auctioned signed shirts and boots for £2,000.

The London Irish centre Dan Bowden has cousins, nephews and nieces left homeless by the quake and a bucket collection by players at last weekend's match with Quins raised £2,200.

Swap shirts or just get shirty?

Delon Armitage has been training with England while serving his eight-week playing suspension (it will end on 17 March) for pushing and verbally abusing a doping officer. The London Irish full-back was found to have repeatedly used the C-word towards the officer, Bryan Thompson, after a match against Bath in January.

The judgement in the subsequent appeal noted Armitage "should consider himself fortunate" that Thompson did not give up on the test and report the player for not complying – an offence with a possible two-year ban. And the original judgment contained a helpful tip for us all in quelling post-match temper: "Had he [Armitage] remained on the pitch to congratulate the opposition, as he should have done, he may have recovered his composure. However, he left the pitch immediately after the final whistle..."

Failing to tackle the problem

Until 1993, when the then Five Nations Committee introduced a trophy and points difference to determine their winners, there were seasons when the title was shared – most recently by Wales and France in 1988.

The five-way tie in 1973, when each team won their two home matches and lost twice away, seems ludicrous in our winning-obsessed era. Yet is the modern Six Nations system better and fairer?

England gained a huge advantage in the title race with their 59-13 win over Italy three weeks ago. Is it right that Chris Ashton's four tries against a notably non-tackling outfit counts more than the victories over Italy eked out by Ireland and Wales in Rome?

If England win on points difference they might consider sending a crate of something bubbly to Luciano Orquera, the fly-half whose "ooh don't hurt me" defence epitomised his side's efforts.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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