Despite news that Manu (“Beautiful British Name”) Tuilagi has been cited following his assault on Chris Ashton at the weekend, it is understood by your faithful correspondent that the Leicester centre is a certainty to be named in Martin Johnson’s Rugby World Cup squad.
This follows the announcement by the IRB this week that, in order to make the event more television- friendly, the Rugby World Cup Final is to conclude with an 8 round boxing match featuring a player nominated by each team beforehand.
“The last few Rugby World Cup finals have not lived up to expectations,” said an IRB spokesperson, “so, after 80 minutes the 2011 final will be decided by a boxing match.
“This will give the team behind on points at the final whistle the chance either to make up the points difference during the bout or win the Rugby World Cup by a knockout. We are confident that this will broaden the appeal of the competition, attract new audiences and increase TV revenues.”
While Tuilagi looks to have secured the England nomination after Saturday’s stoppage victory over Ashton, Matt Henjak’s recent win over Gavin Henson also seems likely to see him welcomed back into the Australian fold.
It is also believed that Jonah Lomu (who has recently added boxing to his CV) will, unless his promoter can organise a New Zealand eliminator against Williams, represent his parents' birthplace Tonga, while Frederico Mendez (famous for his knockout of England’s Paul “Bambi” Ackford in 1990) is planning to come out of retirement to box for Argentina.
South Africa are set to hold a “Bakkies Botha v The Rest” eliminator, while in France the FFR has decided not to hold specific trials but to use fighting form during the regular T14 season as its selection criteria.
Andy Powell’s chances of representing Wales appear to be gone after his recent knockout defeat to Q.P.R. Thugs.
Watch this space for further developments...