News in Brief
Bates plays down Wilko's Lions hopes
Jonny Wilkinson's latest injury woe is set to rule him out of this summer's Lions tour
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- Jonny Wilkinson looks unlikely to make a comeback for Newcastle in time to be considered for this summer's Lions tour to South Africa.
Wilkinson, out since dislocating his knee last September, failed to make the 32-13 European Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat at Saracens and Falcons rugby director Steve Bates does not expect him to figure in their last two Guinness Premiership matches.
"We haven't been able to get him back to do a full week's training and that has to be the bare minimum before we think about putting him on the field. The difficulty is this Lions trip is going to be really hard and physical.
"If you are not absolutely on your game you are going to get exposed in South Africa. If I was the Lions coach I'd be very concerned about that lack of rugby. He's a class player and you've got to take that into consideration but the poor guy hasn't played since September."
- Acting Leicester Tigers head coach Richard Cockerill has confirmed French scrum-half Julien Dupuy will remain with the club next season.
Reports had suggested the No.9 was unsettled at the club and was seeking a return home to France but Cockerill, speaking after Dupuy sealed the Tigers' Heineken Cup victory over Bath, said, "He's under contract, though his girlfriend (who lives in France) is a bit unsettled," said Cockerill. "We've had talks and he'll be here next year."
"We will make it as easy as possible for him to come and go back to France but he will be here for next season."
- Toulouse's loss to Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Cup quarter-final on Saturday means that there will be seven English clubs in next season's tournament. France and England are guaranteed six places, with the seventh being awarded according to the country's clubs performances during the previous year's tournament.
- The semi-final line-up and venues for this season's Heineken Cup have been confirmed with Munster set to play Leinster at Croke Park on May 2 (KO 5.30pm) while Cardiff Blues will face Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium on May 2 (KO 3.00pm).
- The semi-final line-up and venues for this season's European Challenge Cup have been confirmed with Bourgoin set to play host to Worcester at Stade Pierre Rajon while Northampton will face Saracens at Franklin's Gardens. Both matches will take place on the weekend of May 1/2/3.
- Harlequins are facing a fly-half crisis after both Nick Evans (knee) and Chris Malone (hamstring) were injured in their Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster.
"Nick tweaked his knee halfway through the first half. At half-time he said it was sore," said Quins boss Dean Richards. "We gave him 10 minutes then he came off. Putting Nick back on after Chris had pulled his hamstring was the last throw of the dice. I was reluctant to do it but decided we had to. Nick will be out for two to three weeks now."
- The Wallabies' most-capped prop, Al Baxter, and Test centre Timana Tahu are poised to return to the Waratahs' starting side for Saturday's clash with Western Force.
Baxter, who has been sidelined for the last three weeks, hopes to make his comeback from a calf injury while Tahu is set to get the nod at outside centre with centre Rob Horne to miss two to three weeks with a hamstring strain.
- Saracens stalwart Kevin Sorrell has confirmed he will be staying with the Premiership club next season despite rumours he was set to be axed in the summer.
"I'm staying, I'm going to see out the rest of my contract here. I was contracted to 2010 anyway so I'm really pleased that's the case and looking forward to next season," he told the Hillingdon Times. "There was a lot of confusion at the beginning. A lot of that was down to some rumours flying around and chinese whispers. Things got interpreted a little differently than they were. I'm sure over a period of time everything will become a lot clearer and you will see everything get resolved shortly.
- The Denver Barbarians have taken a huge step towards a potential semi-final spot in the United States' Rugby Super League with an impressive 28-6 win over the previously unbeaten Chicago Lions in their Red Conference clash.
Elsewhere, Charlotte has pushed their way up to fifth spot in the Blue Conference with a scrappy, but important, 17-14 win over Potomac Athletic Club.