Rulers look to be safe

RUGBY UNION
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The Independent Online
All is quiet on the west London front. It now looks as if rugby's rulers will not have to face a vote of no confidence, despite calls for one from various quarters over the last few days of the Carling crisis. The junior club, Worthing, were considering the possibility over the weekend but had a change of heart when the matter was resolved.

Peter Wheeler, the former England hooker, then took up the baton but it is unlikely he will succeed. Dudley Wood, the Rugby Football Union secretary, explained: "I wouldn't have thought anyone would call for an emergency general meeting since the annual meeting is only a few weeks away, on 14 July, and the deadline has passed for a motion of no confidence. The only thing that could happen is that someone could raise the matter under Any Other Business, but it couldn't be voted upon, so it would be a bit pointless."

The affair will still be raised at the meeting. Wood, who retires from the post at the annual meeting after nine years at Twickenham, revealed: "I feel sure a statement will be made at the AGM. One can't pretend that these things haven't happened." But he was unable to say whether it would take the form of a report from the president, Dennis Easby, or a report from the 18-strong executive.

Whatever form it takes the whole issue has soured Wood's last few weeks at HQ. "It is very sad," Wood, who will be 65 next Thursday, said, "because I am just coming to the end of my term of office and the game has never been so successful in this country.

"Everybody focuses on England, but we've done a lot of work at junior level with development programmes. All our competitions are well organised, the whole coaching programme has been brilliant - that is Don Rutherford's department - and then of course there is the rebuilding.

"It is costing £60m and few major projects such as this are actually finished on time and to budget. We are two weeks ahead of schedule and within budget with the West Stand. This is all down to these committee members, who are so much derided."

Bath's management committee meets on Tuesday to discuss the appointment of John Hall as team manager. The Bath captain, who retired after his club's ninth Pilkington Cup success at the weekend, is wanted by the players and although the appointment is expected to be ratified next week no one yet knows what the job will entail, other than the selection of next year's captain.

The favourite for that role is the centre Phil de Glanville, who led the side in Hall's enforced absence at Twickenham and who is believed to have Hall's backing. There is no secret about Gloucester's new captain, he is the lock Dave Sims.

Ireland suffered a World Cup setback yesterday when their prop John Fitzgerald suffered a severe calf strain. A decision on whether he has to withdraw will be made at the end of the wek. Jim Staples, their full-back, is making a good recovery from the ankle injury he suffered in the defeat against Italy last weekend.

France also had good news. The injury to Christophe Deylaud's hand is not as serious as was at first feared and the stand-off may still make it to the World Cup.

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