Ruck and Maul: Good Evans could have been Turner's prize guy at Dragons

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The Independent Online

Forgive the Newport Gwent Dragons coach Paul Turner a pang of envy last weekend. After seeing his side give Toulouse a run for their considerable money, he retired to the Rodney Parade clubhouse to watch on TV as the equally cash-rich Stade Français were kicked to death by Harlequins' Nick Evans in the immediately immortal move of 29 phases. Turner's Dragons were offered the All Black at an eye-watering £325,000 a year last February but, like Leicester, who plumped instead for South Africa's Derick Hougaard, they declined. Eventually Quins announced Evans' signing in May – and at a decent discount, to boot. Turner, a richly gifted Wales fly-half in his day, had the consolation of one fan piping up that "Paul could have back-heeled that drop goal over the bar".

Healey's Tiger feat

A modicum of solace, too, for Austin Healey, jettisoned from 'Strictly Come Dancing' a fortnight before last night's final. Healey has been voted Leicester's all-time favourite scrum-half and takes his place in a classy back-line alongside Dusty Hare, Rory Underwood, Sir Clive Woodward, Paul Dodge, John Duggan and Bleddyn Jones. Not so happy is the current Tigers No 9, Harry Ellis. The Heineken Cup judges awarded him a "six" on Friday – as in weeks' ban – for the unusual drop-your-partner-on-the-head move in the tango he performed with Perpignan's Dan Carter.

'Record crowd' loses fizz

Sorting the champagne from the plonk in a deluge of emails about ticket sales, grande cuvée goes to Harlequins and their predicted 50,000 sell-out for Saturday's "Big Game" at Twickenham. Bubbling nicely are Ospreys, who sold out the 20,500 capacity Liberty Stadium for Saturday's clash against the Scarlets weeks ago, and Sale with their "house full" signs for Wasps' visit on Boxing Day. It's all quiet on the Wasps front over their Twickenham tie with Leinster in January, so perhaps it's one for the new year sales. But how's this for hyperbole? "Edinburgh and Glasgow are bracing themselves for a record crowd in the first leg of the David Lloyd 1872 Cup at Murrayfield." Blimey, tell us more. "The last time the two teams met at the home of Scottish rugby for a Magners League fixture they attracted a tournament home record attendance for Edinburgh. As a result, Edinburgh chief executive Nic Cartwright is confident the 2008 meeting will smash that figure." Phew. And the record figure? "6,225." Oh. Pass the Blue Nun, Nic.

Gravy train hits buffers

While the Italians are working on plans for four clubs to join the Magners League, in France they are packing away the boots for a two-week break. If any British players worried about their contracts fancy joining the Eurostar gravy train, beware: The French newspaper 'Midi Olympique' says only Toulon among the leading French sides are confident of avoiding a slash in the playing budget for next season. Just as Christmas pud is followed by indigestion, you knew we'd finish on the money.