News in Brief
Australian Super Rugby bidder withdraws
Hurricanes wing David Smith's rugby future is up in the air
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- New South Wales Country Rugby Union (NSWCRU) has withdrawn its 'expression of interest' in hosting a Super Rugby franchise when the tournament is expanded in 2011.
NSWCRU chief Bruce Worboys admitted that they had been unable to complete all of the SANZAR criteria, leaving three bidding parties from Victoria, two from Queensland and one from Western Sydney to compete with bids from New Zealand and South Africa for the final slot in the Australian conference.
"Participating in the EOI was a very positive and productive exercise for Country Rugby," said Worboys. "We thank the ARU for their support and guidance through the process. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet all of the key criteria set by SANZAR and felt it proper to withdraw our EOI to allow the ARU to work with the other applicants."
- Toulouse may head in to the new Top 14 season without a recognised fly-half after Frederic Michalak suffered a torn hamstring. The French international joins Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and David Skrela on the sidelines and may miss the start of the season. Toulouse kick off against Montauban on August 15.
- Hurricanes winger David Smith's professional career could be in jeopardy as the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) reopens disciplinary proceedings following his drink-driving conviction. Smith, 23, was fined $800 and disqualified from driving for nine months after pleading guilty to excess blood alcohol and careless use of a motor vehicle.
Smith appeared in the Wellington District Court yesterday, though the sanctions may not end with his fine and suspension. Further punishment from his employer, the NZRU, is not his only potential problem, as the Department of Immigration could choose to revoke his work permit.
A Samoan national, he had sought a discharge without conviction but Judge Craig Thompson refused to accept possible immigration problems outweighed the seriousness of the offence. If Smith's work permit was withdrawn he may have to leave the country.
- Waikato coach Chris Gibbes is undecided as to whether he will use returning All Blacks Brendon Leonard and Aled de Malmanche for their Air New Zealand Cup game against Manawatu this weekend.
Both players have been released after playing no part in New Zealand's loss to South Africa last weekend, but Gibbes will wait and see how they adjust to Waikato's structure before deciding on their inclusion.
"They're back in the squad this week but whether I play them or not, I'm not sure yet," Gibbes told the Waikato Times.
- Lock Paul Tito will again captain Cardiff Blues for the 2009-10 season. Tito has been asked to take the armband for the second season after guiding the Blues to the Anglo-Welsh Cup title and the Heineken Cup semi-finals in 2009.
- Ospreys have signed 18-year-old South African-born USA youth international Henno Dirksen. A centre or fly-half, Dirksen will be loaned to Swansea RFC for the 2009-10 Principality Premiership season.