News in Brief
Wasps swoop to sign Varndell
Leicester wing Tom Varndell has joined Wasps on a two-year deal
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- Guinness Premiership side Wasps have announced a triple signing, with Leicester winger Tom Varndell, Bristol No.8 Dan Ward-Smith and former Wallaby centre Steve Kefu all signing deals with the club.
All three players have signed two-year deals with the club. Ward-Smith and Kefu have signed as replacements for England duo James Haskell and Riki Flutey, who will both leave the club in the summer after agreeing deals with Stade Francais and Brive respectively.
"As a club we are delighted with these three outstanding signings," said Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan. "Dan Ward-Smith one of the strongest back row carriers in the Guinness Premiership and a very high quality player who we are delighted to have join us.
"Tom Varndell is a very exciting signing for us. Probably one of the most promising young wingers in the game and at just 23 we feel he will bring a lot again to the way Wasps want to play. Steve Kefu provides us with the experience we want to replace Riki Flutey at 12."
- The British and Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa will be announced on April 21. The captain of the squad will also be confirmed at the same press conference.
- David Holwell has brought the curtain down on a long representative rugby career. The Kiwi fly-half, 33, has told Northland coach Bryce Woodward he will not be available for this year's Air NZ Cup season. Holwell has enjoyed two spells with Northland and also played for Wellington where he was part of the 2000 NPC winning team. In Super Rugby he played for the Hurricanes for whom he made 76 appearances, scoring 676 Super rugby points. Holwell also enjoyed two stints with Magners League side Leinster.
- The WRU has pulled the plug on a proposed charity match in aid of the "Help for Heroes" campaign, citing the difficulty of obtaining player release and ensuring rest periods for their players likely to be used by the British and Irish Lions this summer. The match was slated to take place in September at the Millennium Stadium.
- The two most high-profile referees to emerge from round six of the Super 14 have been dropped from this weekend's games.
Australian Matt Goddard has seemingly paid for his stringent control of last Friday's match between the Hurricanes and Bulls in Wellington, where he dished out five yellow and one red card, while South African Mark Lawrence is also rested despite high praise for his officiating.
- Irish cider company Magners has extended its title sponsorship of the Celtic League for another two seasons. The competition, that features the leading franchises from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, will continue to be known as the Magners League until 2011.
- Bath wing Matt Banahan and Saracens lock Kris Chesney both had their citings for foul play dismissed by Rugby Football Union disciplinary chiefs at a hearing on Monday.
Banahan was cited for an alleged body-check on Saracens centre Adam Powell during Bath's Guinness Premiership defeat at Vicarage Road eight days ago. Chesney, meanwhile, was cited for an alleged punch on Bath's Alex Crockett. Referee Chris White yellow-carded Chesney following the incident, and the panel decided that was a sufficient sanction.
- Newcastle Falcons flanker Ed Williamson has signed a new two-year deal with the club. Williamson, 24, has made 17 first-team appearances so far this season.