News in brief
Murray explains Sunday decision
December 21, 2009

  • Scotland prop Euan Murray has explained his decision to stop playing rugby on Sundays for the first time. Murray will miss Scotland's Six Nations opener against France as a result.

    The Northampton star recently announced the decision to opt out on religious grounds, and follows a path similar to former All Black Michael Jones who also refused to take part in Sunday rugby because of his beliefs. And the British and Irish Lion says he had stopped enjoying playing the game on the Sabbath.

    "It's basically all or nothing, following Jesus. I don't believe in pick 'n' mix Christianity," Murray told The Daily Record.

    "I believe the bible is the word of God, so who am I to ignore something from it? I might as well tear out that page then keep tearing out pages as and when it suits me. If I started out like that there would soon be nothing left. I was going against my conscience and it became impossible to enjoy.

    "I realised it's quite simple, really. Jesus said, 'If you love me, keep my commandments' and there are 10 commandments - not nine. I want to excel in rugby because that's where I've been given the opportunity to serve my God - but it has to fit with the way I want to live my life."

  • Munster captain Paul O'Connell has hailed what he called a "real Munster performance" after his side's 37-14 victory over Perpignan.

    The 2008 Heineken Cup champions answered their critics in resounding style at the Stade Aime Giral with a bonus point win on French soil and O'Connell admitted that he was relieved after a shaky start to the season.

    "Certainly from where we've been coming from it's a great feeling to finally get back to a real Munster performance," he told The Irish Times. "Reviewing the video we felt we'd done a lot of similar stuff last week but probably the three silly tries last week distorted the dominance we felt we had. We started a bit shaky today and a few silly mistakes and a few silly penalties but once we got going we really played well today and I think it was a real team performance."

  • Quade Cooper has sworn off alcohol in attempt for an indefinite period to save his Australia career according to The Courier-Mail.

    The Wallaby and Reds centre was charged with burglary last month, but he is to undertake counselling and give up the bottle to mend his damaged reputation. Cooper returned to training with his club last week, but his future as an international is still in some doubt and he pleaded with the union to give him another chance.

    "I don't want to let anyone down ever again," he said. "I don't want to get sacked over this. With the support the ARU has shown so far, and once everything is sorted out in the courts, hopefully I've still got a job. I can't take back anything that's happened in the past, so now it's up to me to work hard and control what I can control."

    "I'll do whatever it takes to get back on the pitch and play footy. It's something we've addressed, when everything off the pitch is going well it can transfer to your football on the field. I'll do anything to help my career right now. Alcohol seems to be a common denominator in a lot of incidents, not just involving myself. I need to control that side of things and if I do that, it will be a big factor in keeping me on the straight and narrow."

  • Sale Director of Rugby Kingsley Jones has tipped his team for a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after the Sharks' completed back to back wins over Harlequins at a snow covered Edgeley Park on Sunday.

    "On paper we're as good as any team in Europe," Jones said. "We've got three wins from four games and we're in a great position. We've showed we're mentally strong and we need to show it again against Cardiff and Toulouse.

    "Getting out of your pool in the Heineken Cup is one of the hardest things you will do in your career and you don't get many opportunities to do that. Cardiff and Toulouse will be very tough games but we are in a great position and need to back this up now in the Guinness Premiership."

  • Ulster legend David Humphreys has challenged the province to bounce back from their defeat at Stade Francais and win their next five matches to save their season.

    The former Irish outhalf, now Ulster's Operations Director told The Belfast Telegraph, "The next five matches will determine how our season is seen. We could win them all. If we win our two remaining Heineken Cup games we'll be thereabouts. And we still have our sights on a top four Magners League finish.

    "Even if we don't make it in the Heineken Cup we still have a Challenge Cup place to aim for," Humphreys added. "That's a much bigger competition now under the new format."

  • Former All Black Rico Gear is playing for his future at Worcester Warriors over the next three matches according to coach Mike Ruddock.

    The New Zealander has struggled for form and fitness at Sixways during his two year spell, and former Wales coach Ruddock has told him he has three games to impress him.

    "I have spoken to Rico, I have told him that we have got a number of players to make final decisions on, ideally after this block of three games," Ruddock told Worcester News. "He is playing pretty well, it is a shame that he dropped out of the home Connacht match with that calf injury. He had a very good game at London Irish so I think this block of three GP games will define certain decisions in terms of contractual status."

  • The ARU's efforts to lure League star Johnathan Thurston to switch codes have hit an expensive snag with the player demanding $1 million for the move according to The Courier Mail.

    The Kangaroos playmaker has indicated he is contemplating a switch, but his manager Sam Ayoub revealed his client would require a seven figure sum to change codes. "He'd have to look for at least a million dollars (to go to rugby)," Ayoub said. "It would take a lot to entice him away from what he has got in rugby league. He has representative opportunities and he loves playing for Queensland and Australia. An asking price like that would not be unreasonable for one of the best players in the world."

  • Rising talent Richie Gray has committed his future to Glasgow. The 6ft 9in lock has signed a new two year deal after making nine appearances this season.

  • Irish rugby was celebrating once again on Sunday night after the national team swept the boards at national broadcaster RTÉ's Sports Awards.

    Ireland won the Team of the Year award after a year that saw them go unbeaten, claim a first Grand Slam since 1948 and beat world champions South Africa at Croke Park. Captain Brian O'Driscoll picked up the Sportsperson of the Year award for his influential contribution to the aforementioned success as well as his stirring performances for Leinster during their Heineken Cup win and the British and Irish Lions in the summer.


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