Rigney ban would add to Leeds' woes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Leeds back-row forward Colm Rigney has become the second Zurich Premiership player to be cited with the season just two weeks old.

Rigney faces a lengthy ban if he is found guilty of stamping on the head of the Wasps hooker, Phil Greening, during last Sunday's Premiership match at the Causeway Stadium in Wycombe.

Rigney, signed by Leeds from the Irish provincial side Connacht during the summer, has been summoned to appear before a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel in Yorkshire next Monday after being reported by an independent citing officer. The Irishman could be given a 12-week ban, which is recommended for the offence of stamping on the head, and that will exacerbate Leeds' personnel problems.

The Tykes, who have suffered defeats in their opening Premiership fixtures against Bath and Wasps, are struggling with injuries to several key players, so they cannot afford to lose Rigney for any length of time.

The Sale Sharks prop Kevin Yates was the first player to be cited this season. He received a seven-day ban after being reported for striking Northampton's Andrew Blowers when Sharks drew 37-37 with Saints on 12 September.

Leeds are not the only team who will have to do without a key player. South Africa's World Cup preparations have been dealt a severe blow with the loss of yet another of their backs, Jean de Villiers.

Last week the Springbok coach, Rudi Straeuli, called up Western Province's De Villiers as a replacement for Gcobani Bobo only to see the former suffer a dislocated shoulder in a practice match against the Falcons in Springs on Tuesday. De Villiers will be out of action for six months with the injury. Last night Straeuli drafted in Jaco van der Westhuyzen, the Blue Bulls full-back, for De Villiers.

Van der Westhuyzen just missed out on selection for the original 30-man World Cup squad and Straeuli said: "Jaco has been part of the Springbok training group throughout the season and is therefore familiar with the squad set-up and should settle in quickly."