Ruck and Maul: Hill's exit and Sarries' mass exodus show rugby is the new football

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The Independent Online

It hasn't reached the stage where the chairman gives his coach a vote of confidence, but the Guinness Premiership is picking up bad habits from football. Utter carnage last week from Bristol to Saracens as Richard Hill left the West Country club and Sarries announced a mass exodus of players. Hill (pictured right), a former England scrum-half and one of the most respected coaches in the game, has been replaced by Paul Hull at Bristol, who remain bottom of the table after a season during which nothing has gone right.

Hill is supposed to be moving to Montauban, but Ruck and Maul understands this is not the case. Nor was it player power that edged Hill towards the exit. There is mutual respect, and it was Hill who decided the time was right after losing the support of the men in suits. He will be looking for employment as of tomorrow. Meanwhile, half the Saracens squad have until the end of the season to pack their bags after being informed by the incoming coach, Brendan Venter – the club are a Springbok in sheep's clothing – that their services are no longer required. The players are considering legal action.

Regan to make new mark

Mark Regan, the Bristol hooker who is to retire at the end of the season, could join the club's coaching team. It has become fashionable for players with little experience to be entrusted with the job. Jason Robinson has been recruited at Sale, where he will not enjoy the company of star signing Luke McAllister, who is returning to New Zealand.



Fallout hurts Worcester

Bristol are odds-on to be relegated but Worcester, since the departure of assistant coach Clive Griffiths, have been having a tough time, despite winning yesterday. It was not a player revolt, though it is understood he did not see eye to eye with senior Australian import Chris Latham.

McGeechan link is fanciful

London Scottish, in National Division Three South, are benefiting from the coaching of Brett Taylor, recruited from the Exiles' co-tenants, Richmond. Scottish, who are unbeaten this season, are reaching for the sky. There has been talk that if they continue their rise, Ian McGeechan could move from Wasps to the Athletic Ground. It sounds too fanciful to be true; McGeechan has enough on his plate dealing with Wasps and the Lions. Taylor, who is a friend of McGeechan's, is of the old school. "Coaching is not just something you walk into," he said. "You have to learn the trade. Clubs are looking at box-office figures, it's just the way of the world."



From lines to ChildLine

The ChildLine support centre has the slogan "kicking bullying into touch" and is endorsed by Premier Rugby... and Matt Stevens. "Remember," the prop says, "you can speak to someone who can help you think about what you can do." After a two-year ban for taking cocaine, Stevens will not be back in the game until January 2011. He says he will return a "better person and player".



t.glover@independent.co.uk

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