Ruck and Maul: Segregating fans isn't an option. This is a different brawl game
Sunday 09 May 2010
The hoary old holier-than-thou argument has been thrown at rugby union following the incident at Leeds which has led to Worcester players Chris Cracknell and James Collins facing an RFU disrepute charge on Tuesday. A couple of football writers cited the Harlequins fake-blood fiasco when accusing the oval-ball game of going easy on cheating and misbehaviour while looking down their noses at footie. This despite the Quins case ending with a coach given a three-year ban and a player suspended for four months for faking injury (yes, faking injury – if football did the same, there'd be no one left in a couple of weeks). True, Cracknell was "only" fined and suspended for two weeks by his club for the post-match fight on the Headingley touchline but this could amount to a dismissal if his contract is not renewed. And he and Collins face further sanction now from an RFU panel chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, who banned Toulouse's Trevor Brennan for life (reduced to five years on appeal) for climbing into the crowd and punching an Ulster supporter in 2007. Will Blackett be lenient? Reports suggested the Worcester fracas was confined to the two players and their dads so, while being unacceptable, wasn't it fundamentally different to a player attacking a random member of the crowd? Rugby remains wary of starting down the road to football's segregation of fans and cutting them off from players.
Baa-Baas are fretting
Wasps' failure to reach the Guinness Premiership play-offs frees Danny Cipriani and Paul Sackey to play for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham on 30 May. The pair's inclusion in the Baa-Baas' squad suggests neither is expecting to be included in Martin Johnson's 44-man party on Tuesday for the tour to Australia and New Zealand in June. The Barbarians are fretting over who makes it through to the play-off finals of the Premiership, Magners League and French Top 14 which all clash with the England match. They may lose the Munster quartet of Doug Howlett, Alan Quinlan, Jean de Villiers and Paul Warwick – Munster go to Cardiff Blues today with a Magners semi-final spot at stake between them plus Edinburgh – and a handful of players from Toulouse. A big-name coach is on standby to replace Philippe Saint-André in charge of the Baa-Baas, if his Toulon side win a semi-final in St Etienne on Saturday. Still, the invitational side beat the All Blacks last November with just one training session, so how much coaching do they need?
Roll up for 'Real Varsity'
What the participants like to call the "Real Varsity Match" takes place on Wednesday when Loughborough host Bath in front of a 4,000-strong crowd. Loughborough have won the previous five matches including 51-17 last year at The Rec though, as with the other Varsity, it seems the same two teams always get to the final.
North Wales needs help
North Wales coach Clive Griffiths is pleading for the Welsh Rugby Union to increase support for the region, arguing that Australian rugby league tapped successfully into outposts such as Brisbane and Melbourne in the past. The Conwy-based team have had a request to take part in the British & Irish Cup next season turned down but harbour hopes of joining the Welsh Premiership or Division One.
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