Mike Tindall, the England centre, has agreed a contract extension with Bath that will keep him at the Recreation Ground until 2005. Tindall, capped 18 times, has been one of Bath's most influential players this season, and is seen as a future club captain.
"I am very happy to be extending my stay with Bath Rugby," he said. "This is a great club, and there is a real belief within the squad that we are heading in the right direction. I am looking forward to continuing my involvement."
Bath's team director Michael Foley said: "With the amount of progress the team is making, we are extremely pleased to be signing Mike Tindall, who is at the heart of that progress, on a larger contract."
The Harlequins hooker Ace Tiatia will miss the Parker Pen Shield match at Caerphilly on Saturday after picking up a one-match ban for receiving three yellow cards since 9 November.
The Rugby Football Union has released details of an injury audit, covering all registered professional players. It is aimed at monitoring injuries sustained in matches and training at Premiership clubs and England representative sessions.
Commissioned in November, the study has reached the stage of being rolled out to the 12 Premiership clubs. "Having piloted the audit successfully at three Premiership clubs [Northampton, Saracens and Leicester] at the end of the 2001-02 season, we have been reviewing the data from this year's pre-season training period," the England team doctor, Dr Simon Kemp said. "These results show that around 18 per cent of injuries occurring during the pre-season training period were non-contact soft-tissue injuries.
"The most common injuries were hamstring pulls, calf and thigh strains. These ought to be largely preventable, and can cost the respective clubs significant sums of money when their players are not available for selection."
He added: "The study is unique in linking injury to training practices, and for the first time, we will be able to provide the clubs with evidence-based recommendations on how best to reduce the risk of injury."
The Springbok and Free State flanker Andre Venter has announced his retirement at the end of the Currie Cup season on 26 October. The forward, 31, is the third most capped Springbok with 66 Tests played between 1996 and 2001.
The Italy coach John Kirwan has called up the Fiji-born centre Apenisa Tuta Vodo as part of a 33-strong squad for a training session in Padova ahead of the two Test matches next month.
Tuta Vodo qualified for Italy by virtue of playing for Rovato for three seasons. He moved to Calvisano this season and joins the Padova second-rower Pietro Travagli and SK Gran's centre Diego Sacca as the newcomers. The session is to lay down plans for the Tests against Argentina on 16 November in Rome and Australia on 26 November in Genoa.
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