[h1]Six Nations 2010: Wales coach Warren Gatland drops Andy Powell[/h1]
[h2] Wales coach Warren Gatland has dropped Andy Powell from his 35-man Six Nations squad. [/h2]
Powell will appear at Cardiff Magistrates Court on March 2 charged with drink driving after he was arrested in a golf buggy in the early hours of Sunday.
The 28-year-old Cardiff Blues flanker and another man were picked up at a service station off junction 33 of the M4, less than three miles from the Wales team headquarters at the Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort. It is understood the buggy belonged to the resort in the Vale of Glamorgan. The other man was released without charge.
After discussions with the player, the Welsh management decided to drop the British and Irish Lions back-row forward, who has won 14 caps for Wales, for behaviour contrary to the squad's code of conduct.
"We take matters of player conduct extremely seriously and have been happy with the professionalism and discipline of this squad in general terms," Alan Phillips, the Wales team manager, said.
"Andy knows he has misbehaved and is apologetic, but he also knows that he must take responsibility for his own actions and accept the repercussions.
"This kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated in a professional, elite sporting environment and we have acted quickly and incisively in order to leave no ambiguity over the dim view we take of this situation."
Robert Norster, the Cardiff Blues chief executive, said: "Following on from the surreal finish to the weekend's encounter with Scotland, the news of what appears to be a bizarre but serious lack of judgment by one of our players whilst on national duty is of real concern.
"It seems, albeit from a distance, to have been a prank that has somehow gone dreadfully wrong. Consequently, we fully accept and respect the WRU's understandable and prompt action to address the issue. Naturally, as this is an ongoing police matter, we will also not be commenting further at this time."
A specific replacement for Powell will not be brought into the Wales squad, although the inclusion of Scarlets hooker Ken Owens as cover for his injured regional colleague Matthew Rees, who has a groin problem, and Cardiff hooker Gareth Williams, who has knee trouble, means the squad retains 35 members.
Meanwhile Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery is due to appear before a Six Nations Championship independent disciplinary committee after being cited for kicking France wing Alexis Palisson during Saturday's game in Paris.
Thom Evans, the Scotland wing who underwent surgery in Cardiff on Saturday night after suffering a slipped vertebra during the 31-24 defeat by Wales, was said to be "improving".
Chris Paterson, his team-mate who was admitted to hospital after the game with a bruised kidney, is also on the mend and expected to return home to Scotland later in the week.
By Graham Clutton
Published: 10:56PM GMT 15 Feb 2010