News in Brief
Bourgoin fail in bid to switch final
Bourgoin celebrate their Euro Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Worcester Warriors
© Getty Images
- The date and venue of the European Challenge Cup final between Bourgoin and Northampton later this month will not be changed, despite protests by the French club.
With the final taking place at Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium on May 22, Bourgoin feel they will be at a massive disadvantage. The match comes less than a week after their crunch Top 14 encounter with Brive, while they are also unhappy with the location of the showpiece, given its close proximity to Northampton.
However, Jean-Pierre Lux, the president of the ERC, maintains Bourgoin can have no complaints about the location and the timing of the match, and insists the schedule will not be altered.
"After the pool matches, that's to say the end of January, the ERC, like every year, sent a joint letter to the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) and the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to find out if France wanted to be candidates to organise the final of the European Challenge Cup," Lux said.
"The FFR replied to us saying they would put it to the league but we never had a response from the league, despite several conversations that we have had in various reunions. At no time in those three months did France put themselves forward to say they could be interested in (hosting) this final.
"I only got a phone call from the FFR last Thursday but it was way too late. And the LNR, through an intermediary of its president, only woke up yesterday afternoon."
Bourgoin booked their place in the final with a 22-1 victory over Worcester while the Saints edged out Saracens 16-13.
- A Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel have cleared Bath's Justin Harrison of making contact with the eyes or eye area of Saracens' Steve Borthwick after the final whistle of the Guinness Premiership match at the Recreation Ground on April 25.
- A new tournament featuring representatives from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland will be unveiled in Cardiff on Wednesday.
Reports suggest that the competition, a replacement for the Anglo-Welsh Cup, will feature Guinness Premiership and Magners League sides as well as other club sides from the respective countries. The tournament is set to be played during November and the Six Nations when the Test players are on international duty.
- This British & Irish Lions' tour to South Africa this summer is set to boost the local economy to the tune of R1bn.
South African Rugby Union project manager Andre Homan is preparing for 50,000 fans to descend upon the country for what will be the biggest international sporting event hosted by South Africa to date. The R1 billion estimate is based on the last Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005, when about 30.000 British fans visited that country.
"They contributed direct foreign exchange of R720 million," Homan explained to sagoodnews.co.za, "and there was a total GDP impact of R750 million. So we can safely say with the numbers that we're expecting, that we'll top R1 billion in direct earnings very easily and that is hard currency earnings."
- A Melbourne-based joint venture involving New Zealand and Australian players in an expanded Super Rugby competition is being mooted by Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive John O'Neill.
As the three Sanzar partners prepare to meet in Dublin on May 14 to try to thrash out an agreement for a post-2010 competition, O'Neill said Melbourne was a leading contender for an expansion team.
"Just thinking outside the square, if you're getting to market saturation point in New Zealand then that's something we should look at," O'Neill told The Australian newspaper. "When a New Zealand team plays an Australian team in Super 14, the ratings are fabulous but when two NZ teams play each other, the ratings here also are very strong and that's because there are about a million New Zealanders living in Australia."
Plans for the Super 14 in 2011 remain in limbo after fraught negotiations between the Sanzar partners, leaving Australia and New Zealand making contingency plans for a breakaway 10-team trans-Tasman competition. If a Super 15 is approved, South Africa want a sixth franchise, the Southern Kings, as the extra team.
O'Neill said while Melbourne was the favourite if an Australian team were added, there was a formal expression of interest from the Gold Coast Rugby Union.
- Newcastle Falcons prop Joe McDonnell has joined Spanish champions Cetransa El Salvador as player/coach.
McDonnell, 36, made just six starts this season, having been sidelined for much of the campaign.
Director of rugby, Steve Bates, said, "His new challenge in Spain gives him the opportunity to start out on the coaching path, which is always something he has been working towards. We thank Joe for all his efforts at the Falcons, and wish him well for the future."
- Fullback Mark Gerrard has been ruled out of the Brumbies' crucial Super 14 clash with the Blues in Canberra on Saturday after aggravating a hamstring injury.
The loss of Gerrard will see fellow Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper move to fullback while Francis Fainifo returns to the starting line-up to take up the right wing position.
Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock, who is just eight points shy of the Super rugby all-time point scoring record of 990 points held by Crusaders five-eighth Andrew Mehrtens. will remain on the left wing.