News in Brief
Botha banned for four weeks
Bakkies Botha will miss the rest of the Super 14 season and South Africa's opening two summer Tests
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- The Bulls and South Africa have been rocked by the news that Bakkies Botha has been hit with a four-week ban after being found guilty of a dangerous tackle on Stormers winger Gio Aplon.
The incident occurred just two minutes into Saturday's Super 14 clash in Newlands and resulted in Botha being summoned to a disciplinary hearing in Pretoria. After just over two days of deliberation, the veteran lock was found to have dangerously and recklessly entered a ruck without using his arms or grasping a player.
Botha is now suspended for four weeks, meaning he will not only miss the remainder of the Bulls Super 14 campaign, he will also be forced to sit out the Springbok's upcoming Tests against Wales and France, on June 5 and 12 respectively.
- Western Force head coach John Mitchell has dismissed speculation that he will lead the Lions in next year's Super 15.
The former All Blacks boss insists that he will see out the remaining year of his contract with the Force. However, Mitchell did admit that he is in talks with the Lions about taking up a consultancy role with the Johannesburg-based franchise for this year's Currie Cup campaign.
"I'm here (in Perth) right until the end of my contract so I'll be coaching the Western Force next year," Mitchell is quoted as saying by AAP. "There have been discussions in coaching Currie Cup only between now and next Super 14. That's only been discussions, there's been no decision made."
- Samoa prop Sakaria Taulafo has put pen to paper on a new three-year contract with London Wasps. Taulafo only arrived at Adams Park in December, on an 18-month deal, but Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks has been hugely impressed with the way in which the 27-year-old front-row has settled into his new surroundings.
"His positive attitude and desire have allowed him to rack up an impressive appearance total in a short space of time and that is a reflection of his hard work and why he is a valuable asset to the squad," Hanks said.
Taulafo, meanwhile, was only to happy to sign a contract extension just six months after his arrival at Wasps from New Zealand's Tasman Makos.
"Wasps is a very special place and the people here have become like a second family to me," he said. "To play alongside some of the best props in the game like Phil Vickery and Tim Payne, and against players like Carl Hayman, has made this first season very enjoyable and I hope that I will continue to develop and play a strong part in the club's future."
- Toulon will have to make do without the services of Luke Rooney for Sunday's European Challenge Cup final against Cardiff Blues in Marseille. It was confirmed on Tuesday that the Australian fullback suffered a fractured collarbone in last weekend's Top 14 semi-final defeat by Clermont Auvergne.
- Newcastle Falcons have announced the signing of former England U18s captain Glen Townson from Doncaster Knights. The 23-year-old lock, who is a product of the Sale Sharks Academy, has signed a two-year deal with the Falcons.
"Glen is a huge physical specimen who has been getting great reviews across the board in the Championship, helping Doncaster to reach the end-of-season play-offs," Newcastle boss Alan Tait said.
"As well as the nuts and bolts of his line out and scrummaging game, he also offers a big ball-carrying threat and strong defence. There were a number of other Guinness Premiership teams after Glen, but he has chosen to come to Kingston Park and we're delighted he has made that call."
- Munster No.8 Nick Williams and Leinster prop Stan Wright have been cited in relation to separate incidents in Saturday's Magners League play-off meeting between the two provinces at the RDS.
Williams has been accused of stamping on Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton in the 20th minute of the game in Dublin, while Wright is alleged to have punched Munster flanker Alan Quinlan five minutes later. Both players have been summoned to appear before an Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) disciplinary panel at Ravenhill on Wednesday.
- Northampton Saints have announced that Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Juandre Kruger, Neil Best, Mark Hopley, Scott Gray, Barry Everitt, Chris Mayor, Joe Gray and Darren Morris will all leave the club this summer.
In addition, Alan Dickens has confirmed his retirement in order to concentrate on his new role as the Saints' Academy manager, while youngsters James Cannon, Jon Vickers and John Brake have all been released.
"All of the players who are leaving have played a big role in helping the Saints get where we are over the past two or three years," Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder said. "They have all made a contribution, in big and small ways, and we wish them the best for the future."
- Former France fly-half Francois Gelez has announced his retirement from the game. The 31-year-old, who was capped eight times by Les Bleus, played an integral role in Agen's Second Division title success this term but has now decided to take up a coaching role with the club rather than make himself available for next year's Top 14 campaign.