Ruck and Maul: Pocket Rocket's season ends like a damp squib at Worcester

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The Independent Online

What a shocking start to the new year for the Pocket Rocket and the Volcano. Sam Tuitupou, the Worcester Warriors' New Zealand centre, will miss the rest of the season after rupturing the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament in the game against Newcastle. The Pocket Rocket, as he is known at Sixways, has made a big impression at Worcester, scoring 12 tries in 35 appearances since joining from the Auckland-based Blues in 2007. "What is amazing is that Sam was able to play on against Newcastle after such a trauma," said Mike Ruddock, Worcester's head coach, "but that typifies the toughness of him and the steel that will be missed." What is perhaps even more amazing is that neither Tuitupou nor the medical staff on the touchline realised the player was in such distress. In American football, he'd have been treated on the spot and taken off on a stretcher. It shows that professional rugby still has lessons to learn. The Pocket Rocket will spend six weeks in rehabilitation at Worcester (another appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon – they are finding profitable employment from professional rugby) before going back to New Zealand to work with the Blues. He expects to return to England in May.

Volcano's case of the blues

As for the Volcano, he's been up on a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. Lesley Vainikolo, the Gloucester wing, isalleged to have been involved in a street fight outside the Second Bridge nightclub in Bath after which a man was taken to hospital with head injuries. The Volcano appearedin court wearing a blue jumper and jeans. Those are Bath colours. He could at least have appeared in cherry and white... then again, perhaps not.

Toast of town for Saracens

Saracens, who speak with an increasingly South African accent, have organised a charity breakfast in London on 13 January. You can break toast with the Sarries and England captain, Steve Borthwick, and the club's South African scrum-halfNeil de Kock. South Africahas more than 5.7 million people affected by Aids,and the estimate is that1.5 million children's livesare at risk. The breakfast is organised by the Starfish Greathearts Foundation – "How we plan to help one child at a time". For more details, call Starfish on 020 7597 3797 or visit starfishcharity.org.

Welsh stick it up punters

The Welsh Rugby Union have come up with an innovative idea. Despite the reductionin Value Added Tax from17.5 to 15 per cent they have decided not to pass thereduction on to punters who buy tickets for international matches. No, they can stick with the credit crunch. So the spectators for the Six Nations games against England and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff will be charged full value. The WRU's reasoning is that the extra profit they make will go to the "community clubs", whose representatives help to fill the Millennium Stadium. "The extra income we receive," explained a WRU spokesman, "will help to fund club improvements. We will contact the clubs with our ideas on how they can improve, and then they can decide on whether to follow the advice we give them." Well, that's just great. Most of them will probably put the money behind the bar and wait for a rainy day. And that is always just over the horizon.

t.glover@independent.co.uk

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