News in Brief
Du Plessis ruled out for rest of season
Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks
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- Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a neck injury.
The Springboks international underwent an operation this week to repair damage to a disc in his neck that was in turn causing nerve damage. Sharks coach John Plumtree revealed that the 25-year-old will be sidelined for around three months which rules him out of the remainder of the Super 14 season and South Africa's international clashes with Wales, France and Italy in June. He also faces a battle to prove his fitness ahead of this year's Tri-Nations.
"Bismarck will probably be out for three months, which is sad for him because he's been in great form and would have been looking forward to the Tri-Nations after a disappointing Super 14," Plumtree told reporters after the Sharks lost 27-19 to the Bulls in Pretoria.
- The Irish Rugby Football Union have reacted cautiously to a government proposal to ensure the Six Nations and Heineken Cup are designated 'free to air' events".
Ireland's Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan yesterday unveiled plans to use legislation and an EU directive to designate certain events, primarily sporting events, as free-to-air as opposed to pay-per-view.
"At this juncture we do not feel it appropriate to make a detailed comment, other than to say that Ireland's ability to compete at the highest levels, both internationally and at European Club level, has brought tremendous enjoyment and pride to the country as a whole and has been built on rugby's ability to invest major financial resources in our teams," IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said in a statement. "We will obviously engage actively with the Minister and his Department as part of the consultative process to ensure any proposals being brought forward would not lead to a weakening of our teams' abilities to compete, and so strike at the very heart of the game in this country".
European Rugby Cup also expressed their concern, adding, "This is a serious issue. We're examining the implications at the moment. We will be ready for the consultative process."
- The semi-final line-up for the inaugural season of the RFU Championship has been confirmed following the final round of pool action.
Bristol will play host to London Welsh at the Memorial Stadium in Friday, May 7 and Exeter Chiefs will tackle Bedford Blues at Sandy Park on Saturday, May 8. Coventry will be relegated subject to final confirmation by the RFU Management Board. The two-legged final will take place on May 19 and 26 with the winning semi-finalist with the best playing record in the play-off pool given the choice of playing at home in the first or second leg.