Rugby News Leinster set to be at full strength


Gerry Thornley

Gary Ella is expected to name virtually a full-strength side today for the resumption of Leinster's Heineken European Cup campaign against Sale at Lansdowne Road next Friday, albeit with much finger-crossing for the remainder of the week. The chances of outhalf Christian Warner, especially, recovering from his strained quadricep are considered marginal.

However, the rest of Leinster's spate of casualties who were sidelined in the build-up to Friday's 32-30 win over Ulster are expected to be selected, namely Brian O'Driscoll, Shane Horgan, Girvan Dempsey, Eric Miller and Keith Gleeson, as is Gordon D'Arcy, who manfully maintained his fine form despite playing with a shoulder strain last Friday.

Munster coach Alan Gaffney was also pleased to see John Hayes yesterday come through two training sessions at Thomond Park to prove his fitness for their cup rematch away to Gloucester after he was sidelined for the 3-0 win over Connacht last Friday.

Meanwhile, the Cardiff Blues backrower Dan Baugh was suspended for eight weeks by an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin yesterday after the player had been cited by Leinster for allegedly kicking an opponent's head during the team's European Cup match on December 12th. The disciplinary committee comprised of Douglas Hunter (SRU, chairman), Jonathan Dance (RFU) and John Spencer (RFU).

"The panel found that the action of Mr Baugh was at least careless with no regard for the consequences of his action," said Hunter. "The citing was therefore upheld and the panel suspends Mr Baugh for eight weeks up to and including Monday,March 1st, 2004. The costs of this hearing were awarded against the player." Baugh has the right of appeal.

Christophe Porcu of Perpignan was suspended for five weeks by the disciplinary committee after he had been cited by Celtic Warriors for three alleged incidents of punching during their side's match on December 13th.

"In relation to the first incident the disciplinary panel found insufficient evidence to uphold the citing. In respect of the second and third incidents the disciplinary panel found Mr Porcu guilty of foul play under Law 10.4a (punching an opponent).

"These two offences were cynical, unacceptable and unprovoked off-the-ball incidents which could have caused serious injury and the panel suspends Mr Porcu for five weeks up to and including Monday, February 9th, 2004," said Hunter.