Super League's showpiece weekend of matches next May is to move from Cardiff to Edinburgh. All seven matches, in an extra round of games, will be played at Murrayfield on 1 and 2 May.
The change comes after two years at the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh capital amid feelings that the Welsh Rugby Union had not got fully behind the event this season. "They could have been more enthusiastic, but mainly it is a case of Edinburgh having even more to offer," the Rugby Football League's spokesman, Craig Spence, said yesterday.
Part of the rationale is that Edinburgh offers a wider range of accommodation and more for families rather than the "boozy lads' weekend" that Cardiff threatened to become.
The plan is for a "fan zone" around the stadium into which spectators can wander between or during the matches, three of which will be on one day and four on the other. After the insurance of the roof at Cardiff, seven games in two days asks a lot of the uncovered Murrayfield pitch. "But they are well used to staging multiple matches and very confident about it," said the RFL's director of events, Sally Bolton.
The programme next year is to depart from the previous pattern of local derbies, with a seeded draw to be held instead, based on this year's finishing positions, with the two new Super League clubs in the lowest group.
The League is adamant that the move from Wales is unconnected with the Celtic Crusaders' prospects of being awarded a Super League licence next week.
Seven players have been called to today's disciplinary hearing for their roles in the match between the Catalan Dragons and Harlequins on Saturday that ended in a mass brawl.
Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook of Quins and the Catalans' Adam Mogg were sent off after the final hooter for punching. Four other players – David Howell, Rikki Sheriffe and Michael Worrincy of Quins and Casey McGuire of the Dragons – face charges of punching, and Quins' Tony Clubb of a careless high tackle earlier in the match. Clubb and another local product, Will Sharp, have agreed contract extensions with Harlequins.
The Australian Test centre Mark Gasnier has switched codes to join Stade Français on a two-year contract.
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