News in Brief
Perugini denies Azzurri split
Italy's Salvatore Perugini prepares to pounce on England scrum-half Harry Ellis in this year's Six Nations
© Getty Images
- Prop Salvatore Perugini has denied reports of a split in the Italy dressing room on the eve of their latest Six Nations clash with Wales.
Nick Mallett's side are winless in the competition having lost to England, Ireland and Scotland and lie bottom of the table and have conceded more than 100 points. Reports in the Italian press suggested that several Azzurri players have allegedly written a letter to Italian Rugby supremo, Giancarlo Dondi, questioning Mallett's leadership.
"It's a complete lie," said Perugini. "None of us have written anything against Mallett. The group is united, compact and aware of our own limits."
- Grand Slam-chasing Ireland cranked up their preparations for their Six Nations clash with Scotland with a sing-a-long session with folk legend Christy Moore.
Moore performed at a private audience for the Irish camp at the Killiney base on Monday night with several players singing alongside one of the nation's most popular musicians.
"A few guys sang with him and I was lucky enough to be one of those," revealed lock Donncha O'Callaghan, "as was Luke Fitzgerald, Denis Leamy and Ronan O'Gara. It was a great honour. Sometimes you need distractions during a big championship like the Six Nations." Elsewhere, Wales took a break ahead of their trip to Rome to take on Italy with a day at Cheltenham Races.
- South Africa's Jonathan Kaplan become the first referee to reach the 50 Test milestone when he takes charge of the Six Nations clash between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Kaplan, who made his Test refereeing debut in 1996, became the most-capped international referee with 47 Tests in November last year when he refereed the clash between France and Argentina in Marseilles.
- Wales and Gloucester scrum-half Gareth Cooper has agreed a switch to Magners League side Cardiff Blues.
The 29-year-old, who has battled back from a recent knee operation and is currently sidelined with a groin injury, has reportedly put pen to paper on a two-year-deal to move to the Arms Park. He is set to replace Jason Spice in the Blues' No.9 jersey with the New Zealander told he can leave the club due to Welsh rugby's limit on non-Welsh qualified players.
- Bristol hooker Mark Regan is set to make his 200th Guinness Premiership appearance when he starts against Leicester Tigers at the Memorial Stadium on Friday evening.
Regan follows in the footsteps of Simon Shaw (212), Kris Chesney (206) and Hugh Vyvyan (200) and the former England and British Lions hooker acknowledged that he was delighted to get to the milestone. "I'm very happy and very honoured to be making my 200th appearance. It's been a very long time. The Premiership started in 1997 and I started playing in 1991 so I could have added an extra 70 appearances to that total!"
- The action at this year's Adelaide Sevens will kick off on the Friday night for the first time. The sixth stop on this year's IRB Sevens Series takes place April 3-5 at the Adelaide Oval. The next stop for the Sevens elite is Hong Kong, March 27-29.