News in Brief
Smit launches Kaplan broadside
Sharks skipper John Smit has courted controversy by criticising referee Jonathan Kaplan
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- Sharks captain John Smit has risked censure by publically criticising referee Jonathan Kaplan in the wake of his side's Super 14 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria.
Writing on micro-blogging website Twitter, the Springboks skipper called into question Kaplan's handling of the game, in particular the scrum engagement, and suggested it was responsible for a neck injury he suffered during the Loftus Versfeld clash.
"Scan on my neck today, with the ref getting the engage setup distance wrong my neck got caught in an engage & now its a tad sore! Hold thumbs," Smit wrote on Sunday. He later allayed fears over the injury with a further post, declaring, "Thankfully no spinal damage,just some soft tissue issues so hoping it will settle for Saturday."
Australian fly-half Matt Giteau was fined A$5,000 last week by a Sanzar judicial panel following an outburst aimed at referee Steve Walsh that resulted in the New Zealander being stood down for the Brumbies' clash with the Reds in Canberra. Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder also raised public concerns about Australian ref Stu Dickinson's breakdown rulings after their heavy defeat to the Stormers last weekend.
- Former Scotland international Ian McLauchlan, known throughout the rugby world as Mighty Mouse, has been elected as the next president of the Scottish Rugby Union.
McLauchlan, 68, whose phenomenal scrummaging and animated loose play was at the heart of the British and Irish Lions' Test series successes in New Zealand (1971) and South Africa (1974), has been nominated unopposed by Scotland's rugby clubs. He will take up his post at Scottish Rugby's annual general meeting at the end of June.
Ayrshire-born McLauchlan (Hillhead-Jordanhill) captained Scotland on 19 occasions. He won his first cap out of the Jordanhill club against England in 1969 and his 43rd and final cap against New Zealand ten years later. "My aim will be to strengthen rugby in Scotland and assist in any way I can to help the clubs to build, the pro-teams to build and the national team to build," he said following the announcement.
- The playing future of Scotland and Glasgow wing Thom Evans has been thrown into doubt by Warriors head coach Sean Lineen. Evans, who sustained severe neck damage during February's Six Nations game in Wales, vowed last month that he would return to playing at some point next season but Linee has hinted that may not be the case when he listed the 25-year-old amongst players he expects to lose this summer.
"Tim Barker is going back to Ulster, Dan Parks (to Cardiff), Mark McMillan (to Bath) is a loss, Kelly Brown (to Saracens), Dan Turner - who is going to Japan - and probably Thom Evans," he told the Scotland on Sunday.
- Agen beat second-placed lyon 34-11 on Sunday to clinch the ProD2 title and secure promotion back to France's top division - the Top 14 - after a three-year absence.
- The New Zealand Rugby Union have anounced that around 7,500 general admission tickets remain available for next month's All Blacks Test against Ireland in New Plymouth.
A statement released by the NZRU said that all covered seating for the June 12 test at the redeveloped 25,400-capacity Yarrow Stadium had sold, but 7,500 uncovered seats were available. Tickets for the Tests against Wales in Dunedin on June 19 and Hamilton on June 26 go on sale next Monday, while tickets for New Zealand Maori against Ireland in Rotorua on June 18 went on sale today. Sales for NZ Maori against England in Napier on June 23 open on May 24. NZ Maori also play the NZ Barbarians in Whangarei on June 12, with tickets available from May 19.
Tickets for the All Blacks' opening Tri-Nations Test against South Africa in Auckland on July 10 go on sale at the end of this month.
- The outstanding Round 18 Magners League game, between Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons, has been confirmed for Friday, May 7, kicking off at 7.05pm at the Liberty Stadium. The game will be broadcast live by BBC Wales.