Ruck and Maul: King's in line to join the house of Lancaster after Farrell stays put

 

Thursday's announcement by Saracens that head coach Andy Farrell would be staying with the club rather than joining England fitted the former Wigan rugby leaguer's words at Twickenham immediately after last month's match against Ireland at the conclusion of his temporary secondment to the national side.

"I've got a good contract [at Saracens]," he had said. "I love my job." The club say there was no significant contact from England after that, which hardly speaks of an employer desperate to tie a prospective employee down.

Whatever Farrell's merits, England are left with a head coach and forwards coach in Stuart Lancaster and Graham Rowntree respectively, six weeks before they play the Barbarians and fly to South Africa.

One name in the rumour mill is Alex King, the former Wasps and England fly-half who has been at Clermont Auvergne since 2007. King is in charge of the Massif Central club's Espoirs, the academy side who have been champions of France for the past two years and are favoured to make it a hat-trick. He looks after the first team's kickers and assists the backs coach Franck Azéma, with both answering to head coach Vern Cotter.

Interestingly, King was tipped by Leon Holden as a possible coach of Wasps when Holden left that role last year, but that was at a time when Wasps' fluid position regarding the playing budget and where they would play may have made them an unattractive proposition compared with rich, stable Clermont.

Medal hopes for Paralympians

Sevens will join the Olympic Games at Rio in 2016, but wheelchair rugby is in the 2012 Paralympics and Great Britain are taking part in a test event at London's new Olympic Park basketball arena this Wednesday and Thursday.

The team, ranked sixth in the world, are facing Australia, Sweden and Canada, and Andy Barrow, who captained Team GB to fourth place in Beijing in 2008, said: "The fact that we are able to have a test event, albeit slightly scaled down from the actual Paralympic event, is a massive leg-up for all the teams, to see what the playing environment will be like. We weren't able to do that in Athens or Beijing, so it shows London is head and shoulders above the last two Games. We think we'll be able to advance to the semi-finals. Then we have two shots at a medal."

Tindall is up for grabs

Mike Tindall has not given up hope of playing for England despite being fined £15,000 for his behaviour at the World Cup and dropped from the elite player squad. The Gloucester centre has turned down a new one-year deal offered by his club – the same term as the 33-year-old's last contract extension but on reduced pay after his England omission cost the Kingsholm side around £100,000 in compensation from Twickenham – but has no intention of retiring from playing.

Whoever emerge as Championship winners in May and fulfil the criteria for promotion to the Premiership would be a popular destination for out-of-contract waifs and strays. Bristol go to Pool A leaders London Welsh today.

Leaving Ireland at the double

Ulster and Munster, the winners and losers respectively from their Heineken Cup quarter-final, will both appoint new head coaches at the end of the season. Munster's Tony McGahan is returning to Australia while Brian McLaughlin of Ulster, who face Edinburgh in Dublin on 28 April, will be redeployed in charge of the province's academy, even if he wins the Heineken Cup.

European Rugby Cup are flogging four tickets for £80 in a bid to fill the Twickenham Stoop for the Amlin Challenge Cup final on Friday 18 May after defeats for Wasps, Harlequins, Scarlets and Exeter left France's Toulon, Stade Français, Biarritz and Brive to contest the semi-finals.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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