Bath trio quit The Rec
Bath skipper Michael Lipman is one of three players to have quit The Rec
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- Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins have resigned from Bath with immediate effect.
The three players had been called to face a disciplinary hearing after they declined on three separate occasions to take a drugs test, according to Bath. The club had been conducting an internal investigation into allegations linked to drug use and fighting at an end-of-season celebration on May 10.
The players resigned immediately before today's disciplinary hearing was due to begin.
Lipman, an England international with 10 caps to his name, and Crockett were co-captains at The Rec this season. Bath have now lost five senior players in the space of three months.
Justin Harrison's decision to request an early release from his Bath contract and retire from rugby is understood to be linked to a fracas involving Harlequins players in a London pub. In February, England prop Matt Stevens resigned from Bath before he was sacked after receiving a two-year ban for taking cocaine.
Bath chief executive Bob Calleja tonight confirmed the departure of Lipman, Crockett and Higgins in a brief statement. He said, "Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins had been required to appear at an internal disciplinary hearing today to address the failure on three occasions to take a drugs test following allegations surrounding player conduct on Sunday, May 10.
"Immediately before the hearings were due to take place the players resigned from the club with immediate effect. The club regards this as an internal matter and intends to make no further comment."
- England captain Ollie Phillips has been named as the IRB Sevens Player of the Year.
The announcement of the year's first IRB award-winner follows the introduction of an exciting new format for the IRB Awards. Starting this year, the winner of each of the 13 coveted categories of awards will be named at different stages throughout the year, culminating in the announcement of the prestigious IRB Player, Coach and Team of the Year in November.
Phillips led England to seven events in this year's IRB Sevens World Series and was inspirational in their two Cup successes, a first ever in Wellington, New Zealand and a first for five years at their home Emirates Airline London Sevens at Twickenham last weekend.
"It's been a fantastic year personally and collectively for our team and to captain any England side is a huge honour," said Phillips after receiving the award from Scottish legend Gavin Hastings at a function in Murrayfield Stadium. "I was surprised to be on the shortlist of nomineees for the award, so to win it is really very special.
"To do the things that we've done this season, where we've fallen short at some points and then we've had massive highs - Wellington, Twickenham last week - was huge for us and this award is a special thing for me obviously, to be named as the best Sevens player in the world, but there's a lot of players who've graced that turf who are pretty special too, some get recognised, some don't and fortunately for me people have picked me out."
- Shaun Edwards expects the Golden Lions to put their troubled build-up behind them when take on the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday night.
Golden Lions coach Eugene Eloff was sacked last week, while rumours abound of possible high-profile player departures. But Lions assistant coach Edwards believes the Super 14 outfit will put aside any off-pitch problems.
"An apparent anarchy can be a real unifier, so we are expecting them to be at their absolute premium," he said. "I've seen their games. They've pushed a lot of Super 14 teams close, a lot of very good teams close, and they seem to have found some form late on in the season.
"We talk about how special it is for our players - think how it is for them. For us, it's (a Lions tour) every four years - for them, once every 12 years. So they won't be thinking about what is going on off the field.
"They've got some very important ball-carriers, both wings are very powerful and the half-backs are a huge threat as well. They are a team who love to play rugby, and they've come out and said they want to run it as much possible, so it should be an entertaining game."
- Barbarians coach Dai Young insists Saturday's clash with Australia will be anything but an exhibition match.
The Baa Baas showed what they are capable of with an entertaining 33-26 victory over England at Twickenham last weekend. And while Young insists his side will look to entertain the capacity crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium, he made no secret of his desire to defeat Robbie Deans' Wallabies.
"We'll try to come into the game we want to throw the ball about (and) we want to be entertaining but make no bones about it as well, we want to win," he said. "It's a fine balance but one we can strike.
"Obviously the Barbarians stand for a lot of things, a lot of great players have played for them in the past and it's important we keep that tradition going," he said. "But not only was the commitment there but I thought we scored some really good tries as well."
- South Africa 7s coach Paul Treu heaped praise on his side after they were confirmed as IRB Sevens champions.
The Springboks were beaten 20-19 by Fiji in the final of the Edinburgh Sevens, the last event of the 2008-09 season, but they were already assured of the overall title. Treu's side finish the season with 132 points, ahead of Fiji (102), England (98), New Zealand (88), Argentina (68) and Kenya (64) in sixth position on the log.
"It's a bit disappointing to end the season like this, but I told the guys that we have been the most consistent team of the year. We have waited for 10 years to win the IRB World Sevens Series so we might as well enjoy this," said Treu. "We are the best team in the world and now we are going back to South Africa as the champions of the world. Let's not forget that feeling because it does not happen every day.
"There's been some great moments this season and what the guys have achieved will go down in eternity. I would also like to thank all our great supporters in South Africa and then also a huge thanks to SA Rugby for their support."
- Argentina will host next year's IRB Junior World Championship, the International Rugby Board has announced.
The tournament will be played in Argentina's Littoral region with the cities of Rosario, Santa Fe and Parane all hosting matches. This year's junior world championship will be held in Japan from June 5-21. New Zealand are the reigning junior world champions.
"The Championship is hugely important to the IRB in terms of providing a platform for the next generation of international Rugby stars to showcase their skills on the international stage and develop into elite athletes," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. "It also plays a significant role in increasing global playing standards. Argentina has the facilities and infrastructure to ensure that the Tournament will be organised to a very high standard which is vital for its success."
"Rugby in Argentina is at an all-time high, boosted by the success of the Pumas at Rugby World Cup 2007. The Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) has successfully implemented a new High Performance strategy which is aimed at raising the standard of Rugby within the country through a series of IRB funded elite coaching and player development initiatives.
"The Union has achieved significant growth in player numbers since 2007 and continues to produce outstanding results on the international stage."
- Edinburgh have confirmed that four promising young players, Mark Robertson, David Blair, Andrew Easson and Ryan Grant have all agreed new deals that will keep them with the most successful Scottish team in Magners League history for the next two years.
- Worcester Warriors have announced the signing of powerhouse prop Adam Black from Newport Gwent Dragons. The 34-year-old, who is the Dragons' appearance record-holder, has signed a two-year deal that will keep him at Sixways Stadium until at least 2011 and reunite him with former boss Mike Ruddock.