Gibbs to captain Wales


SCOTT GIBBS will lead Wales against the United States in Cardiff on Saturday after Jonathan Humphreys yesterday dropped his appeal against the seven-day suspension he was given on Sunday for the two yellow cards he received in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Brive.

Humphreys initially protested that he had not deserved the first of the yellow cards, but after a meeting with the Wales management yesterday morning, he had his arm twisted.

"Jonathan has been sensible in dropping his appeal," said the Wales coach, Kevin Bowring. "He is disappointed not to be involved this week, but had his appeal gone ahead we would have been in a position of not knowing our captain or our hooker until the end of the week. That would have been far from ideal."

Humphreys, Wales's captain since September 1995, who spoilt an unblemished disciplinary record when he was sent off in Brive, said he was aware of the need to set an example. "The ultimate concern must be the national side and they can now prepare without any interruption," he said.

Gibbs was a surprise choice as captain and his appointment smacked of a one-off decision to allow Humphreys to return against Scotland on January 18th. Gibbs captained Wales youth but has been a backbencher in senior rugby; his disciplinary record on the field may be exemplary, but he has got himself into a few scrapes off it and his habit of being disarmingly frank to the media will not do anything for the Welsh management's steep.

"I know it is only a temporary appointment, but it was still a pleasant surprise," said Gibbs. At least, as a centre calling the shots, he will not be able to complain if he does not see enough of the ball.

"It will make a good change to have a three-quarter in charge of the side," said Bowring. "Scott knows how we are looking to play the game and he will bring a different focus to the job."

Pressed on whether Humphreys would return against Scotland, Bowring added: "It depends on performances. He is a major part of our set-up and he still has a major role to play."