Small pays big price for late night


SOUTH AFRICA yesterday dropped James Small, their most experienced player, from the side to face New Zealand next weekend after reports of late night partying ahead of last weekend's 29-18 defeat by the All Blacks.

In another controversial move, the selectors included Northern Transvaal hooker Henry Tromp, who served a jail term for assault in 1993 after a black employee died in a beating. Tromp is one of two new caps in the side and comes in at the expense of John Allan.

"Andre Joubert returns from injury to take James Small's place at full-back," the South African Rugby Football Union said in a statement. "James was not considered for selection pending a SARFU disciplinary hearing."

Small, the most capped current Springbok with 31 internationals and who had a near-faultess match at Newlands, was reportedly seen at a Cape Town night club at 2.0 a.m. on the Friday before the test.

Flanker Andre Venter from Free State is the other new cap, replacing captain Francois Pienaar, who sustained concussion during the defeat by New Zealand on Saturday night in the final match of the Tri-Nations series.

Three Wigan players, Va'aiga Tuigamala, Gary Connolly and Henry Paul, could be heading for a legal confrontation with the Rugby Football League if their planned moves into rugby union are barred. The three men are expected to sign short, winter contracts soon, Tuigamala with Wasps, Paul with Bath, and Connolly with Harlequins.

But Maurice Lindsay, the game's chief executive, has written to all 12 Super League clubs saying that they must seek permission before releasing players to rugby union. "I am sick of reading about our best players moving to union," said Lindsay.