Thursday 23 November 2017

Rugby in brief: Italians get green light for Magners

The Magners League will be expanded to 12 teams next season to include two Italian "super-sides".

The Welsh, Irish and Scottish unions agreed unanimously that Benetton Treviso and Aironi Rugby -- based on Viadana -- should join the competition as part of a four-year agreement.

David Jordan, director of tournament organisers Celtic Rugby, said: "This is another massive step forward for the Magners League. It will bring both a major cash injection into the competition and greater exposure across Europe.

"It is anticipated that the Italian super-clubs will be largely made up of Italian internationals of full, 'A' and U-20 levels, with a sprinkling of top-class overseas players set to provide further strength and spice to the tournament."

England lose Shaw

England second-row Simon Shaw has been ruled out of Saturday's trip to Scotland with a shoulder injury.

Shaw (36) had been doubtful since damaging his AC joint in the opening minutes of England's defeat to Ireland at Twickenham.

England manager Martin Johnson confirmed yesterday that the Wasps forward would not be available to play at Murrayfield and that Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer has been called into the squad.

Johnson has brought in five reinforcements, including World Cup-winner Mike Tindall, who returns to the senior squad after overcoming a hamstring injury.

Biarritz fuming

Biarritz sporting manager Laurent Rodriguez has criticised Marc Lievremont's decision to call Dimitri Yachvili into his France squad for Saturday's clash with Italy in Paris.

The scrum-half is replacing Frederic Michalak -- whose knee injury could sideline him for 12 months -- but he only returned from a knee problem of his own last week.

And Rodriguez fumed "We believe he is not fit to play an international."

Irish Independent

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