ARU dismisses Melbourne expansion fears
December 30, 2009
Clermont wing Julien Malzieu has signed a new deal
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- The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has moved to quell reports of further problems with the Melbourne Super franchise. An alleged breakdown in communication between the ARU and potential investors in the side appeared to be the latest stumbling block ahead of their admission to the Australian conference.
Ray Evans, from the VicSuper15 group, claims his organisation has shut down negotiations with the ARU following an alleged dispute over the amount the new franchise would receive in annual funding. While Evans, described as a 'minority shareholder', has walked away from negotiations and indicated the ARU would now fund the team, key investors Kevin Maloney and Harold Mitchell remain committed to launching the side in the 2011 competition
"Negotiations continued right up until Christmas and will pick up again shortly," an ARU spokesman said. "Suggestions that the Melbourne Super rugby team is in disarray because of a dispute with the ARU is totally incorrect. And suggestions that the ARU has now decided to run the franchise are also incorrect.
"It has never been the ARU's intention to run and manage the Melbourne Super rugby team and we're confident of finding a resolution on the ownership structure."
- Shane Williams is set to boost Wales' Six Nations bid with a return to action in the New Year. The prolific wing limped out of their November Test defeat to Australia with a hamstring injury, but Ospreys director of coaching Scott Johnson is expecting a swift return.
"Shane will definitely be back before the Six Nations," he said. "He is looking pretty good but we will monitor his progress over the festive period. But he has been diligent and is further down the track than we first thought. It's a great Christmas present for the Ospreys and Wales because you can't coach what Shane has got. He has to take all the credit for his swift return."
In a blow to the region, tight-head Craig Mitchell is looking at five weeks on the sidelines after suffering suspected fractured ribs during their victory over the Scarlets on Boxing Day.
- Colin Charvis has been appointed as the Newport Gwent Dragons' forwards coach until the end of the season, succeeding Leigh Jones. Former Wales and British & Irish Lions flanker Charvis will expand on his role as defence coach with the region, with the announcement following a new deal for head coach Paul Turner.
- French international wing Julien Malzieu has signed a new deal with Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne, keeping him at the Stade Marcel Michelin until 2012. Malzieu joins forwards Julien Bonnaire and Elvis Vermeulen in renewing their deals.
- Guinness Premiership leaders Saracens have added to their overseas playing stocks with the signing of Namibian international back-row Jacques Burger from the Bulls. Burger has already begun training with the squad ahead of their meeting with Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
- Jason Forster has joined Clive Griffiths on the coaching team of the new North Wales side, Gogledd Cymru. One-cap Welsh international Forster is currently coaching English National Three South side Henley Hawks and will combine these duties with his new position as part-time forwards coach alongside Griffiths, his former coach at Doncaster.
- Former Otago pivot Michael Witt has arrived in Wales after again switching codes to return to rugby league with struggling Super League side Crusaders.