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Rugby in brief: Phillips pays price for Dublin display


Wales' Mike Phillips

Wales' Mike Phillips

Wales' Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips has become the highest-profile casualty of Wales' 26-3 humbling in Dublin as head coach Warren Gatland warned that any repeat performance from his players against France tomorrow "could be the last" they put in for their country.

Phillips has been dropped in favour of Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb, although elsewhere the team is largely as expected with George North moved to outside centre in response to a midfield injury crisis, with Liam Williams taking his place on the wing. Luke Charteris returns at lock in place of Andrew Coombs.

Meanwhile, France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has named a team showing one enforced change. Flanker Wenceslas Lauret replaces his Racing Metro team-mate Bernard Le Roux, who was injured during the 30-10 victory over Italy 10 days ago. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Wales (v France) – L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, G North, J Roberts, L Williams; R Priestland, R Webb; G Jenkins, R Hibbard, A Jones, L Charteris, A Wyn Jones, D Lydiate, S Warburton (capt), T Faletau. Reps: K Owens, P James, R Jones, J Ball, J Tipuric, M Phillips, D Biggar, J Hook.

FRANCE – B Dulin; Y Huget, M Bastereaud, W Fofana, H Bonneval; J Plisson, J-Marc Doussain; T Domingo, D Szarzewski, N Mas, P Pape (capt), Y Maestri, Y Nyanga, W Lauret, L Picamoles. Reps: B Mach, Y Forestier, V Debaty, S Vahaamahina, D Chouly, M Machenaud, R Tales, G Fickou.


IRELAND Women's coach Philip Doyle has made two changes for Ireland's Triple Crown decider against England on Saturday, WRITEs Ruaidhri O'Connor.

Ashleigh Baxter comes on to the right wing in place of Hannah Casey, while hooker Gillian Bourke replaces Stacey-Lea Kennedy.

Unbeaten so far, the Grand Slam winners' tournament goes up a notch at Twickenham where they face an English side chomping at the bit for revenge after losing heavily in Ashbourne last season.

IRELAND (Women's team v England) – N Briggs (UL Bohs/Munster); A Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), L Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), J Murphy (Old Belv/Leinster), A Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht); N Stapleton (Old Belv/Leinster), L Muldoon (Bristol/Exile); F Coghlan (UL Bohs/Leinster), G Bourke (UL Bohs/Munster), A Egan (Old Bel/Leinster); S Spence (Old Belv/Leinster), ML Reilly (Old Belv/Leinster); S Fleming (Tralee/Munster), C Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), H O'Brien (Highfield/Munster). Reps: SL Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster), F Hayes (UL Bohs/Munster), KA Craddock (Saracens/Exile), L Guest (Highfield/Munster), A Davis (Blackrock/Ulster), H Casey (Saracens/Exile), G Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), J Shiels (Richmond/Exile).

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Heineken Cup bosses hope shareholder power can force the release of overdue tournament appearance fees after a second board meeting in three weeks failed to break the impasse.

European Rugby Cup (ERC) again voted to delay a decision regarding the release of appearance payment instalments to its six shareholder countries at a board meeting in London yesterday.

Another board meeting has been set for March 11 – but crucially a shareholders' meeting has been called for March 10.

Despite more than three hours of wrangling in yesterday's reconvened meeting, no tangible progress could be made. The ERC board believes the shareholders may be able to force through the release of these payments by ordering the directors to act, it is understood.

Tournament bosses are concerned about possible legal action should Sky lose out in the TV rights battle with BT Sport.

The Heineken Cup could well be replaced by a European Champions Cup run by the Six Nations committee next season, leaving ERC defunct.

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