19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been selected for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia.
And over on this side of the pond when sport needed to maintain some sort of dignity we had the continuing farce of the Martin Johnson affair.
Putting the issue in context is simple enough. England want desperately to win the championship/grand slam, whatever you want to call it so that a), they prove to everyone what is already known, that they are the best side in the northern hemisphere and, b) prove to themselves that they are not chokers after choking in the slam dunk attempt for the past three successive seasons
France remain the only real threat to those ambitions and with winning at whatever cost foremost in their minds, Johnson must play against France.
Problem of course was that the great Leicester icon punched out Robbie Russell's lights and found himself banned for three weeks. So the thing to do is appeal and that's exactly what they did and in doing so hitched their chariot to the deceit that is becoming so commonplace in sport.
Of course they did it for the right reasons. Johnson had already been punished (sin-binned) and punishing him a second time would of course set a dangerous precedent. What sort of precedent does inflicting a six stitch injury to the Sarrie (Sorry ?) hooker set ? What sort of example does it set for others ? And what are the RFU going to do about it ?
Well nothing it seems - for now or until after the French match. It looks like they won't be able to do anything because there is a difficulty about assembling a committee to deal with the appeal in such a short space of time.
Perhaps they should give the ERC in Huguenot House a call. They managed to cobble together an appeal panel in jig time to deal with the Ismaella Lassissi appeal and therefore may be able to give the RFU some pointers. Or could it be that the RFU's ambition is every bit as great as Clive Woodward's.
Johnson will lead England against France and England will win and they will go on to win the championship.
It is no more than their consistency and adventurous play deserves. What a pity they couldn't have done so without recourse to underhand methods that undermine the very tenets of the game. And what a pity that the custodians of the game were compliant in the whole sorry affair.