Northampton players fight each other in bar brawl

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Not content with battling against relegation from the Zurich Premiership, bottom-of-the-table Northampton have now taken fighting among themselves.

Not content with battling against relegation from the Zurich Premiership, bottom-of-the-table Northampton have now taken fighting among themselves.

Yesterday club officials acknowledged that a fracas had taken place in the early hours of Sunday morning in a Toulouse bar, The Frog and Rosbif, after Saints' Pool Three 25-12 Heineken Cup defeat in the city.

According to reports, the bulk of Northampton's senior players had left the city centre bar by the time it all went off, but there were still about a dozen squad members who are alleged to have fought with each other. The brawling apparently spilled out on to the street.

The bar, which was packed with Saints supporters at the time, was also the scene of another alleged unsavoury incident, when one Northampton player is reported to have dropped his trousers while on a makeshift stage in the bar.

A statement from Franklin's Gardens read: "The club is aware of an incident that took place in Toulouse after the weekend's match, which involved a fracas between some members of the playing squad.

"Although there were no repercussions, the club will be dealing with the matter internally and will not be commenting further, but concentrating on this weekend's cup game against Bedford." But Keith Barwell, the chairman of Northampton, was surprised that with so many supporters said to be around no one had made a complaint to him "It's strange that not one supporter has mentioned it to me," he said.

It was the lowest point of a troubled season which saw the sacking last month of the head coach, Alan Solomons, after eight Premiership defeats on the trot.

Gloucester eased their hooking crisis yesterday by signing Wales international Mefin Davies for the rest of the season. Davies, 32, was a regular for Wales in the recent autumn internationals, playing against South Africa as a replacement and starting against Romania, New Zealand and Japan, but after Celtic Warriors folded in the summer he has been without a professional club. He has appeared a couple of times for Neath-Swansea Ospreys but otherwise he has turned out for the semi-professional side Neath in the Welsh Premiership.

Davies will be available for this weekend's Powergen Cup tie against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, but is not registered for Gloucester's remaining two Heineken Cup games against Ulster and Stade Français.

Gloucester, who are also reported to be interested in signing another hooker, Noel Curnier, from the French club Agen, have been forced into the market because Chris Fortey (broken ankle) and Olivier Azam (shoulder) have been ruled out with long-term injuries and they needed cover for the summer signing James Parkes and the youngster Rob Elloway.

New Zealand has not ruled out the possibility of a joint bid with Japan for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, even though such a partnership would span two hemispheres and different climates. "Joining up with Japan is a secondary option - but it's not something we have dismissed out of hand," said the NZRU chairman, Jock Hobbs. "We have had a couple of meetings with the Japanese. They have been very cordial."