Virus throws Newbury into confusion

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The Rugby Football Union are expected to decide in the next 48 hours whether Newbury's Pilkington Cup match against Lydney will go ahead on Saturday.

The second-row forward Andy Newsham yesterday became the eighth player at the Berkshire club to fall ill with a bacterial infection and the Division Four South side have become increasingly concerned about the outbreak.

The Lydney manager, Gordon Sargent, said: "The problem with postponing the match is that it would lead to a fixture pile-up. I am sure Newbury would prefer the match to be played but our players' health has to be our first concern and of course we will abide by the RFU's decision."

Newbury's director of rugby, Terry Burwell, added: "We hoped we had contained the outbreak over the weekend but we now hear Andy is ill."

The eight players, all forwards, are suffering from the same strain of staphylococcus bacteria, which brings the victim out in boils. Newsham and hooker Julian Brammer, who is also ill, both played for the Combined Services against the touring Argentina side last week.