Ruck and Maul: Semenzato in frame to take place of Bod as the chosen one

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The Independent Online

An Italian could be the public's choice as the Player of the Six Nations when the vote closes tomorrow.

Brian O'Driscoll cleaned up in three of the five previous seasons but the rules were changed this year. The 12 nominees had been named man of the match in the first four weekends. As of Friday, Italy's Fabio Semenzato and Andrea Masi were said to be narrowly ahead of England's Toby Flood and Chris Ashton.

This dozen's feats yesterday can still be taken into account but the last three MoMs were omitted due to the organisers' wish to announce the result on Wednesday. The prospect of Semenzato, only an occasional Azzurri scrum-half, earning the same title as an all-time great such as O'Driscoll is odd to say the least.

George competition is bungled

Another poll that needs just a little explanation is London Wasps' one to "find England's most popular George", in aid of their St George's Day match which will raise funds for four military charities: Combat Stress, BLESMA, the Special Boat Service Association and the Royal Parachute Regiment Charity.

It is not a vote for the most popular English George, as the club's suggested shortlist includes Messrs Clooney, Best and Galloway. We feel it lacks a rugby influence so how about George Lindsay, who scored five tries for Scotland against Wales in 1887; or George North, the exciting Wales wing who could be a star of the 2013 Lions tour; or George Nepia, the Maori full-back who played all 32 matches on New Zealand's "Invincibles" tour in 1924-25.

No? Then go for one of Wasps' other suggestions – George Michael, Boy George or, er, George from Rainbow – if you must.

Fly-halves are flying away

A few Premiership fly-halves are on the move. Wasps' Dave Walder is heading abroad, Northampton's Shane Geraghty is believed to have succumbed to the lure of the French Euro, and Charlie Hodgson is swapping Sale for Saracens.

Then there is Nicky Robinson switching from Gloucester to Wasps – at least one Premiership club was deterred by his low goal-kicking success rate – while Saints have recruited Ryan Lamb from London Irish.

The power of French spending was revealed by one club who told Ruck and Maul their enquiries after All Black Luke McAllister were immediately trumped by a £350,000-a-year offer from a rival English team – only for both to be outbid by another £150,000 a season from a Top 14 side.

Falcons must stay up to soar

Newcastle will do well to hang on to their fly-half Jimmy Gopperth, but first things first: today's LV Cup final versus Gloucester.

The winners qualify for the Heineken Cup – a great carrot to dangle in front of the consistent Gopperth. But Falcons would need to stay up in the league to play in Europe after Premier Rugby confirmed relegated clubs would not be entered into the Heineken Cup.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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