Wales escape despite going a sub too far

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The Independent Online
Wales have escaped punishment despite making five replacements - one more than the permitted number - in their victory over France on Monday night, writes Dave Hadfield.

The director of referees for the Halifax Centenary World Cup, Greg McCallum, studied the match video yesterday which revealed that Wales had broken the rules. The extra substitution took place when the previously substituted Allan Bateman came back on for Jonathan Davies, who the Welsh management apparently believed was leaving the field under the blood-bin rule.

The infringement has therefore been regarded as a genuine accident and Wales can breathe a sigh of relief that they have not been punished in the same way as the Auckland Warriors, who had to forfeit a game after using an extra replacement in the Winfield Cup last season.

Davies, who was taken to hospital suffering from concussion, will play in Wales's second group match against Western Samoa in Swansea on Sunday. His concussion has been diagnosed as slight, which does not necessitate a stand-down period.

The England captain, Shaun Edwards, has angrily denied Australian claims that he racially abused their Tongan winger, John Hopoate, at Wembley on Saturday. Edwards had accused Hopoate of unsporting behaviour in sledging England's debutant full-back, Kris Radlinski, after a mistake in the tournament's opening match.

"I didn't realise that what I said about Hopoate would cause such a commotion," Edwards said. "But it is absolutely ridiculous to say that I racially abused him during the match. I'm a Christian and I would never stoop so low as to abuse someone because they were of a different race. My own girlfriend is black."

Fiji have made just one change from the side which defeated South Africa 52-6 in their starting line-up to meet England at Wigan tonight. The prop forward Malakai Yasa replaces Malakai Kaunivalu, who was injured at Keighley.

FIJI (v England Wigan, tonight, 7.30): Sovatabua (Carpenters Motors Panthers); Dakuitoga (Penrith), Nalagilagi (Penrith, capt), Seru (South Queensland), Nadruku (Canberra); Nayacakalou (Penrith), Taga (Fish Nadi Dragons); Kaunivalu, Sagaitu (both Lautoka), Nakubuwai (Ynco Wamoon), Degei (Parramatta), Toga (Hyundai Bulldogs), Marayawa (Tumbarumba). Substitutes: Koroibulgka, Vatubua (Hyundai Bulldogs), Wainidroa (Fish Nadi Dragons), Naisoro (Lautoka).

n Wigan's French forward Gael Tallec will miss the rest of the World Cup after tearing a groin muscle during the defeat by Wales. The utility backs David Despin (dislocated shoulder) and Stephane Millet, who damaged a hamstring in training, are also out of the tournament.

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