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."
As the countdown continues for RWC2015, Tournament Chief Executive Debbie Jevans visited the Millennium Stadium to discuss preparations for the eight matches and reveal the positive news that 100,000 tickets for games at the home of Welsh rugby have sold in the last seven days.
Jason Harries is targeting a first win on the World Series circuit this season with Wales. The series returns to action this weekend in Dubai where Harries is part of a team hoping to build from its efforts in round one in October.
Wales skipper Jevon Groves says his side have addressed a few points from Gold Coast and aim to 'hit the ground running' in the next two rounds of the World Series, kicking off with this weekend in Dubai before heading off to South Africa next week.
Wales Sevens manager Steff Thomas is hopeful his side can build from a quarter-final spot in the opening round of the World Series in Australia when his side take part in the forthcoming double header in Dubai and South Africa.