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 1TV.ge. 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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