Players oppose clash of the hemispheres

Leading international players remain opposed to plans for a game between the northern and southern hemispheres as they prepare to meet with the game's governing body.

The International Rugby Board has approved plans for the match in November at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. But the International Rugby Players' Association chairman, Tony Dempsey, insists that its members face burn-out in an already congested fixture list.

"Until such time as action is taken to address the player welfare issues, IRPA remains committed to withdrawing its support to the proposed North v South Hemisphere Match," said Dempsey. "It would be premature for the IRPA to be supporting yet another match in an already cluttered international season until the player welfare issues have been constructively resolved."

The two organisations are due to meet in Dublin on 9 and 10 September to discuss the growing problem.

Dempsey welcomed the conference as a "positive step" but warned against unrealistic expectations.

"The conference in itself will not resolve the problem," he said. "The recommendations coming out of it will be a key factor along with how they are adopted and implemented by the stakeholders in World Rugby."

The South Africa captain, Corne Krige, fractured his sternum during the Tri-Nations decider and will be out of action for at least six weeks, it was announced yesterday.

Krige sustained the injury during the Springbok's 33-31 victory over Australia in the final Tri-Nations match in Johannesburg at the weekend.

The Springboks have no more matches scheduled until November, but the injury will rule the flanker out of the provincial Currie Cup. Krige was captain of the Western Province side, and will be replaced by Bob Skinstad.

During his layoff, Krige – who on Sunday was cleared by a disciplinary hearing of punching during the victory over Australia – will undergo surgery to repair an old ligament injury to his right thumb. His cracked sternum will not require surgery, however.

Krige said doctors thought he have initially injured his sternum in an earlier Tri-Nations match against Australia in Brisbane.

"If the bone does not get the chance to knit, its always going to wiggle loose again," he said. "It is very painful. I will have X-rays taken again after six weeks."

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