Semi-finals shift ends Exiles' advantage

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The Independent Online

The Rugby Football Union has abandoned its plans to hold this season's Powergen Cup semi-finals at the Madejski Stadium. Before the quarterfinals were played the RFU said the Reading venue would stage both ties back-to-back. However, one of the semifinalists – London Irish – play their home games there.

Yesterday it was agreed that the two games would take place at the home grounds of Northampton and Harlequins. So Northampton will meet Newcastle at Franklin's Gardens on 9 March, with Quins taking on the Exiles at The Stoop on the same day. One semi-final will start at 2.45pm and the other at 5pm, with the RFU yet to reveal the order of the ties.

Club officials at Coventry expect, within the next 48 hours, to have collected evidence to support its claims that Rotherham players used an illegal radio link during a recent meeting between the National Division One sides. Coventry will then decide whether to report Rotherham, the division's leaders, to the RFU. Rotherham were accused of using ear-pieces under their scrum caps to receive coaching instructions.

Allan Lewis has resigned as director of rugby at the Welsh-Scottish League leaders, Newport. The move could lead to the return of their former fly-half Paul Turner, Gloucester's backs coach. The vacancy will attract several candidates, however, given the Welsh club's resurgence over the past few seasons.

The Irish captain, Keith Wood, who is carrying an injury, has been included in the 22-man squad for the opening Six Nations' Championship match against Wales in Dublin on 3 February. The Harlequins hooker has been out with a torn calf muscle since 15 December and is unlikely to play for his club at the weekend.

POWERGEN CUP Semi-final draw: Northampton v Newcastle; Harlequins v London Irish. (Ties scheduled for 9 March).

IRELAND SQUAD (Six Nations' Championship): Forwards: P Clohessy (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), A N Other, K Wood (Harlequins), F Sheahan (Munster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), M Galwey (Munster), G Longwell (Ulster), A Foley (Munster), E Miller (Leinster), D Wallace (Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli). Backs: P Stringer (Munster), G Easterby (Llanelli), D Humphreys (Ulster), R O'Gara (Munster), K Maggs (Bath), B O'Driscoll, D Hickie, S Horgan, G Dempsey (all Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester).

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