Scott Quinnell's Wales can prepare to face England at Twickenham on 23 March, knowing that influential captain Martin Johnson will not be on the park...
The man who led the British Lions on Tour to Australia in the summer will be forced to watch his country from the sidelines after his appeal against a three week ban by the Rugby Football Union was today dismissed.
The Leicester Tigers second row had an initial three-week ban, imposed for punching Saracens hooker Robbie Russell in a Zurich Premiership match, suspended when his club appealed against the decison, allowing him to lead England against France in Paris last weekend.
But after a six hour appeal hearing at Twickenham today it was decided to dismiss his appeal and his three week sanction will begin from today.
He will not only miss England's game against Wales on March 23, but also Leicester's Zurich Premiership appointments with Bath and Gloucester.
Today's six-hour hearing was conducted in front of independent arbitrator David Pannick QC.
Johnson was not appealing against either the fact he punched Russell, or the sentence. His, and Leicester's, argument was that the RFU did not have the power to effectively punish him twice for the same offence.
Referee Dave Pearson sent the England skipper to the sin bin on the intervention of a touch-judge, but this was deemed by the RFU to be insufficient penalty.
The player will not now be available until the Tigers' visit to London Wasps on Easter Sunday, before taking up his role as England skipper in the final match of the Six Nations campaign against Italy in Rome.
England coach Clive Woodward reacted philosophically to the verdict.
"I accept the decision made by the QC today," said Woodward.
"If available, Neil Back will captain England against Wales."
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Meet the members of the WRU's inaugural Youth Board - after an online selection process which saw a host of high calibre candidates submit video applications the WRU has made its first 15 appointments.The board is made up of individuals aged between 16 and 21, and will meet for the first time at Principality Stadium on Monday 15th February.
The Wales Women's team headed to Dare Valley Country Park on a team bonding exercise as the entire squad got together for the very first time in preparation for this season's Six Nations championship which kicks off on Saturday with a clash against defending champions Ireland, in Donnybrook.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland discusses his team selection for the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations where he leads his side against Ireland, on Sunday. As WRU TV's Luke Brodley discovers, Gatland is fully aware of the challenges the defending champions pose