Health was the buzzword in rugby circles yesterday, with a clutch of players being ruled out of international action next weekend, while off the field the Rugby Football Union announced a sizeable profit for the last financial year.
Wales were dealt a double blow with the news that they must tackle a resurgent Australia in Cardiff on Saturday without Kevin Morgan and the flanker Dafydd Jones. Both players were injured against Fiji and missed the defeat against South Africa last weekend, but it had been hoped that they would recover in time to face the Wallabies.
Doubts hover over the 6ft 9in lock Luke Charteris, who missed the Springbok Test with a calf strain. There was also confirmation that the second-rower Brent Cockbain was out for the rest of the season and the back-row forward Ryan Jones would be out for a further six months.
New Zealand are also suffering. Hot on the heels of the departing prop Tony Woodcock, who has returned home to deal with a family emergency, came news that the centre Aaron Mauger was also flying back to New Zealand after sustaining a shoulder injury that could sideline him for up to six weeks. But there is no disruption to All Black plans to complete their Grand Slam since neither player had been expected to start against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
News on the open-side flanker Richie McCaw is brighter. He appears to have recovered from the effects of a blow to the head suffered against Ireland 10 days ago and a decision on whether he will be considered for selection against the Scots is expected today.
The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, is to appoint a minister to take charge of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The favourite for the job is the Sports Minister, Trevor Mallard.
If the All Blacks win the World Cup it could be that their union will be able to announce profits like those revealed by Twickenham yesterday.
While the RFU suffered a £100,000 loss in 2003-04 - the year England became world champions, the positive effects are finally being reflected. Twickenham revealed a pre-tax profit of £6.3m. The figures show a record operating profit of £23.2m - a rise of 52 per cent on the previous year.
Ireland have added four Munstermen to their squad to cover for injuries: the hooker Jerry Flannery, the locks Mick O'Driscoll and Trevor Hogan and the wing John Kelly to their squad.Reuse content