WORLD champions South Africa want to play Ireland in a one-off Test in the United Arab Emirates later this year.
The Springboks plan to launch their northern hemisphere tour in the Middle East in November, before heading to Britain UK for matches against Wales, Scotland and England. If the event proves a success, South Africa will seek to play more fixtures in the region, with a Tri-Nations match against Australia on the agenda for 2009.
The Mandela Challenge match against the Irish is awaiting final approval from the International Rugby Board.
Meanwhile, England’s elite rugby director Rob Andrew has given his support to four players who are at the centre of a “serious allegation” under investigation by New Zealand police.
An incident is alleged to have occurred in a private room at the team’s Hilton hotel in the early hours of Sunday morning, New Zealand time, following England’s 37-20 defeat to the All Blacks.
According to reports, the incident involved a woman, but Auckland police said a formal complaint had yet to be lodged. No further details have been released.
Andrew confirmed England, now in Christchurch preparing for Saturday’s second Test, are cooperating with police over the matter.
He said: “The England rugby team has been informed by Auckland police that an allegation has been made against four members of the England playing squad.
“Whilst no formal complaint has been made, we are cooperating with the police and their enquiries. The players concerned have the complete support of all the players and the management.”
Andrew would not make any further comment, nor would England team travelling lawyer Richard Smith, QC.
An Auckland police statement read: “Auckland City Criminal Investigation Branch is investigating an allegation involving up to four members of the England rugby team.
“The incident being investigated is alleged to have occurred early on Sunday, June 15, in a private room. Whilst an allegation was brought to the attention of police on Sunday evening, no formal complaint has been received.
“Investigating officers are receiving the appropriate level of cooperation from the England rugby team management.”
The Hilton Hotel would not comment on the allegations. The whole episode casts a dark cloud over the England squad as they attempt to reverse last weekend’s defeat at Eden Park.
But the squad are determined not to let any off-field issues affect their focus on the job in hand this Saturday.
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