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British recruits go back to school
Scrum.com
July 17, 2009
England's Tom Palmer and James Haskell joke around in training, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, March 16, 2007
England internationals James Haskell and Tom Palmer will be going back to school ahead of the new Top 14 season © Getty Images
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  • Internationals James Haskell, Tom Palmer and Hugo Southwell will be seeing as much of the blackboard as the rugby pitch as they settle into life in France with Stade Francais.

    The former Wasps pair were among a batch of English-speaking players signed by Stade for the forthcoming season. To enable them to integrate better into French life and the Stade squad, they will undergo an intensive course of French lessons over the next month.

    Stade team manager Ewen McKenzie, the former Australia front-row forward who speaks fluent French, is intent on getting his English-speaking signings up to speed with the language as quickly as possible.

    Second-row Palmer, who did not make England manager Martin Johnson's 32-man elite player squad for the forthcoming season, hit the books as soon as he knew he was moving to Paris and has welcomed the extra tuition.

    "I already read French without too much problem - I knew some words but before getting the rugby terms right, it is just for my integration in daily life that I want to speak French as quickly as possible," he told L'Equipe. "For the spirit of the team, speaking the language of the country where you play is paramount."

  • Scottish Rugby have announced that former Scotland international Gregor Townsend has been appointed attack coach for the national side.

    Townsend, who won 82 caps for Scotland and was a member of the series-winning British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 1997, was famed during his playing days for his attacking flair and will now work alongside head coach Andy Robinson.

    "I have been working closely with Andy Robinson over the last few months and am relishing the opportunity to work with him and the rest of the team," said Townsend.

    Robinson welcomed the appointment of Townsend and believes he will be an asset to his coaching staff. "He was a wonderful player for Scotland and his enthusiasm and commitment always shone through. As our attack coach I am confident he will make a very positive impact on the team."

  • Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne are reportedly closing in on signing World Cup-winning South Africa centre Jaque Fourie.

    Fourie is contracted to The Lions in Johannesburg Clermont vice-president Jacques Pineau is confident of acquiring the services of the 26-year-old.

    "There is an agreement between the club, the player and his agents," Pineau said in L'Equipe. "I think his arrival is going to happen."

  • Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has been arrested for an alleged public order offence involving a a taxi driver.

    The 26-year-old was arrested and questioned yesterday in connection with a dispute over a taxi fare. The incident happened in the early hours of July 8 in Penarth, close to Cardiff.

    South Wales Police confirmed today that a man has been released on bail pending further inquiries. The alleged incident took place just days after Phillips had returned to the UK from the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

    Phillips, who plays for the Swansea-based Ospreys, was a member of the triumphant Wales team which won the Grand Slam in 2008.

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