Former England World Cup winner Steve Thompson will be on the bench for Brive against Newcastle Falcons in the European Challenge Cup on Thursday after announcing his retirement following a chronic neck problem while at Northampton last season.
Hooker Thompson will have to repaying hundreds of thousands of pounds in insurance money after he got the green light to return to playing from three different specialists in France - and surgery in the United States from Rick Nelson.
Thompson returned against Connacht last week as a replacement flanker after 20 minutes before moving up into the second row and at 19 stone he reckons he needs to shed a few more pounds before thinking of an international return.
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.