Technicality may leave De Villiers in the clear

By Paul Trow
Sunday 09 February 2003 01:00

Pieter de Villiers' positive tests for cocaine and ecstasy could be declared null and void on a technicality.

According to International Rugby Board and International Olympic Committee rules, as well as French law, the laboratory which conducted the tests should have been searching only for performance-enhancing drugs because the samples were taken from the 30-year-old prop out of competition. But France's coach, Bernard Laporte, insisted last night that the South African-born tight-head would still miss France's Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham next Saturday.

De Villiers, tested along with 12 Stade Français club-mates at a training session on 18 December last year, thinks his drinks may have been spiked at a party after a game against Harlequins in Paris.

England moved up to third in the International Rugby Board World Sevens Series table despite losing 38-26 to New Zealand in the final of the latest tournament in Wellington. England, who won the Brisbane IRB event last weekend, earlier beat South Africa (17-7) and Australia (21-15).

Wasps' home form – one defeat in seven Zurich Premiership starts – suggests they should beat London Irish at Adams Park today and stay on course for a play-off place. Lawrence Dallaglio has recovered from a shoulder knock, but Martyn Wood takes over at scrum-half from Rob Howley who has a hand injury. Irish call up prop Simon Halford and flanker Declan Danaher following last weekend's defeat by Sale.

National League One remains a two-horse race after Worcester and Rotherham won 45-9 and 75-7 respectively at Bedford and Moseley. Worcester hold an eight-point lead but their Yorkshire rivals have two games in hand.

The seventh round of the Principality Cup produced victories for Newport, Cardiff, Pontypridd, Neath, Bridgend, Llanelli and Ebbw Vale over opposition from lower divisions. Vale were made to work hard before shading Carmarthen Quins 13-8 and Llanelli only pulled away from Pontypool in the second half.

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