All in the scrum



Off-field antics: Phillips in Bayonne bad books

The odds must also be against another maverick with off-field as well as on-field form, Mike Phillips, now travelling with the Lions to Australia next summer, after his “unacceptable off-field behaviour”, though unspecified, led to him being fined and suspended indefinitely by Bayonne last week. He is now unlikely to feature for Wales this November.

Cedric Heymans also received an unrelated suspension for comments made about home fans in the local media. Bayonne president Alain Afflelou told L’Equipe. “I’m furious – outraged. This is unacceptable and not worthy of a professional player. It shows a lack of respect for the club’s partners and the public. He (Phillips) will not play again until further notice and we will also punish him financially.”

Phillips was reportedly punished for partying after last week’s 35-6 defeat to Toulouse. Afflelou revealed that Phillips, who is out of action due to a hand injury at the moment, has been in trouble for similar behaviour before.

“This is not the first time he’s been sick,” he said.

When Lions come calling: Cooper's comments not helping Deans's cause

Whether Robbie Deans will be the Australian coach when the Lions come calling next year may well hinge on whether his injury-ravaged Wallabies avoid defeat against Argentina in Rosario next Saturday, and prior to last Saturday’s heavy defeat to the Springboks, a shot across the bows by outhalf Quade Cooper last week hasn’t helped Deans’s cause.

Currently sidelined with a knee injury and hopelessly out of form this season, the 24-year-old explained his recent criticism of the Wallabies’ set-up on Twitter to Fox Sports program, The Rugby Club.

“I’m just striving to be the best that I can be and that’s why I said (in reference to his Twitter comments) I didn’t want to be involved in that kind of environment. For me to continue to improve as a player and as a person you want to be in the best possible environment. And I feel that that environment is destroying me as a person and as a player, so that I can’t do the best that I can do to represent my country and my family and my friends, to the best of my ability.”

“Much of what was said on The Rugby Club has left us utterly confused. Quade wants more of a say in the game plan, he wants to play his style of game. He certainly made that clear. Yet he also said he could adapt if required,” said Australian RU managing director John O’Neill, who took particular umbrage over Cooper’s use of the word toxic in describing the Wallabies’ environment, and the lack of a dedicated training base.

“Throwing mud at the game and his employer doesnt help anyone, least of all himself,” said ex-Wallaby centre Tim Horan. While All Blacks’ captain Richie McCaw said: “I can’t understand someone going on like that but that’s just the way it is I suppose.”

Asked if that’s the way Cooper was, McCaw, who has had a long-running on-field feud with Cooper, said: “Seems to be doesn’t it? I don’t really know the guy.”

The number of minutes, since Saracens last scored a try. But it didn’t stop them beating Harlequins 18-16 yesterday.

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