Woodward bemused by Richards' England gripe

By Wyn Griffiths
Tuesday 21 January 2014 02:49
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The England coach, Clive Woodward, reacted with a measure of incredulity yesterday to comments by the Leicester manager, Dean Richards, that the Tigers' preparations for tonight's Zurich Premiership match at Sale had been disrupted by the two-day England training camp earlier this week.

Shorn of 10 players, the reigning champions had only one scheduled training session, yesterday, in the run-up to a game that sees them take on the side they beat into second place last season. Richards said: "The annoying thing is that the dates for this training session changed at the drop of a hat. I wasn't consulted and only found out last Friday."

He added: "I'm delighted that an agreement is in place and we're more than happy to release players. However, England Rugby ought to have administered this much better."

Yesterday, on Sky Sports, Woodward said: "I was a bit amazed by his comments, to be frank. I'm seeing him Friday as I'm going to the game against Sale and we've agreed to meet beforehand.

"I've gone up and down the country and Leicester need to fully understand the admiration all of club rugby sees them with. It is an admiration and it's led by me so I was bemused by all the comments, I must admit."

More than 24 hours before tonight's match, it was a case of standing room only, with just 102 tickets remaining. Sharks lost both league games against Leicester last term, conceding 70 points, while last Saturday's 44-8 defeat by Gloucester was their heaviest in the league since Saracens beat them 51-6 almost two years ago.

Tigers – opening weekend casualties at Leeds, but 30-6 victors over Harlequins last weekend – could give the England flanker Lewis Moody his first start of the new campaign.

However, their hopes of pitting their wits against the best of the southern hemisphere were dashed for a second season running yesterday, when plans for a game between the Heineken Cup holders and the Super 12 champions were shelved. The idea of a challenge match first arose last season, when Leicester tried to arrange a fixture with the 2001 Super 12 champions, the ACT Brumbies, only for the initiative to fall through. Scheduling difficulties have militated against this year's game .

* Doddie Weir will make his competitive debut for Borders against Cardiff today. The former Scotland international broke his hand in a pre-season friendly and has not played for the side this year.

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