The Daily Telegraph - Business : 2020-09-18

Sport Tennis : 20 : 12

Sport Tennis

12 The Daily Telegraph Friday 18 September 2020 *** Sport Rugby Union Saints are playing mind games over prop, says Baxter Georgia stay in Nations Cup after player shooting By Daniel Schofield Georgia’s place in the Autumn Nations Cup will not be threatened by an extraordin­ary incident in which the union’s vice-president shot a player in the leg. According to reports in the Georgian media, vice-president Merab Beselia has been arrested by police for shooting Ramaz Kharazishv­ili, a former sevens captain, in the leg at the governing body’s offices in Tbilisi on Wednesday. Georgia will be England’s opening opponents for the Autumn Nations Cup in a match at Twickenham on Nov 14, having replaced Japan in the eight-country tournament. Six Nations Rugby, organisers of the Autumn Nations Cup, confirmed that the shooting incident would have no bearing on the competitio­n. “It is a matter for the Georgian Rugby Union and the Georgian authoritie­s,” a Six Nations spokespers­on said. Georgia have never been less well-equipped for their first entry into a tier-one tournament outside of the World Cup and have now been plunged into further disarray with police launching an investigat­ion into the alleged illegal purchase, possession and carrying of a firearm, and damage to health. Media reports suggested the shooting followed a dispute between the two men, with Kharazishv­ili, who is president of a club side, a persistent critic of the Georgian Rugby Union. “Kharazishv­ili received injuries to his leg. His life is not in danger. All employees of the Rugby Union are cooperatin­g with the police,” Tornike Gogebashvi­li, acting president of the Georgia Rugby Union told deputy rugby correspond­ent By Daniel Schofield Exeter coach claims Boyd is trying to influence the referee Northampto­n given special dispensati­on to sign Seville scrum time will decide whether it goes to unconteste­d scrums or not,” said Boyd, who added that Dan Cole, the Leicester prop, had been a “little bit kind” to Iyogun on his Premiershi­p debut on Sunday. While Baxter had no objection to Northampto­n registerin­g Seville, he did take issue with Boyd’s comments, which he suggested were an attempt to influence the officiatin­g of the scrum. “That is exactly the kind of comment I am talking about, because what does it mean?” Baxter said. “It means that Northampto­n will have to go to unconteste­d scrums if they don’t like how the scrum is going, but they won’t go to unconteste­d scrums if we don’t push. “It is just a weird comment, because the reason [we] should be able to go to unconteste­d scrums is for injured players. It is a bit of a throwaway comment at this stage in the week. For what reason is it made? It is pretty obvious; it is to create some kind of an influence on some kind of a situation.” Baxter also said that Seville played against Exeter recently without any issues, and that Chiefs tighthead prop Alfie Petch made his debut just Rob Baxter, the Exeter director of rugby, has accused Northampto­n of playing “mind games” over their claims of an injury crisis at prop before their Champions Cup quarter-final on Sunday. Northampto­n have been granted special dispensati­on by European Profession­al Club Rugby, the tournament organiser, to sign Alex Seville (below) from Gloucester on emergency loan after all four of their senior loosehead props suffered injuries. That left Manny Iyogun, a 19-year-old with just one Premiershi­p appearance, as their only fit loosehead prop, which led Chris Boyd, the director of rugby, to speculate that the match would go to unconteste­d scrums if Exeter went full-bore with their internatio­nal tighthead pairing of Harry Williams and Tomas Francis. “If Manny plays and we get someone of lesser quality, the attitude Exeter take at they first contacted EPCR on Sept 9. During that time they were contacted by props from Brazil and Portugal offering their services, but by the time that EPCR gave the green light they were unable to recruit from abroad because of Covid-19 and visa restrictio­ns. “We are pleased that EPCR have adopted a sensible approach in the ruling,” Mark Darbon, the Northampto­n chief executive, said. “Given the length of time it took for this decision to be made, and the challenge of bringing in new players at this stage of the season, we would like to thank Gloucester, who have agreed to loan us Alex Seville until the end of September. “Alex will be available for our European Champions Cup quarterfin­al match on Sunday. We are also grateful to Exeter for the pragmatism they have shown in supporting today’s decision.” two weeks ago as a replacemen­t against Northampto­n. “He was 20 years old and I can’t remember anything being in the press about there being an issue about a guy playing his first minute of Premiershi­p rugby, and the same two sides are involved,” Baxter said. “I think some of it is a little bit mind games, if I am honest, and a scenario that potentiall­y isn’t really there when you look at what clubs have been doing in games anyway. “We need to isolate ourselves from it and do what we do because we are very aware it is a Heineken Cup quarter-final and we have all got to get on with it.” Seville, 22, has not started a Premiershi­p match, but has made 10 appearance­s as a replacemen­t. Even as Northampto­n expressed relief that they were able to bring in Seville, there remained frustratio­n at how long the process took after Austin Healey have stayed together throughout the competitio­n to be rewarded, but there are situations, such as this, where you have to exercise common sense. But because of the way EPCR is structured, with so many vested interests, it is far more difficult. It is like herding cats. Northampto­n should have been able to ring up EPCR chairman Simon Halliday, so he could have said: “That’s fine, I will get it sorted.” Instead, after attempting for a week and a half to sort things, they

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