ENGLAND coach Clive Woodward's well-earned Christmas skiing holiday in Switzerland will have been soured by yesterday's news that centre Mike Tindall will miss the entire 2004 Six Nations.
Woodward asked to be updated on events back home after Tindall sustained a serious ankle injury while scoring the first try during Bath's 24-15 Zurich Premiership victory over Saracens on Saturday.
Initial fears that the 25-year-old back had broken his leg were allayed by an X-ray which revealed no break, but an MRI scan at the Royal Bath United Hospital yesterday morning uncovered extensive tissue damage.
Tindall has ruptured all three of the lateral ligaments in his right ankle and must undergo an operation this week before then embarking on a 12-week rehabilitation programme which will force him to sit out England's Grand Slam defence.
"It is a great shame for Mike," said Bath coach John Connolly.
"It looks as though he will be out for around 12 weeks, which means he will certainly miss the Six Nations."
Meanwhile Jonny Wilkinson was last night cleared of serious injury, with Newcastle director of rugby Rob Andrew allaying fears he could miss England's Six Nations campaign.
The Newcastle and England fly-half was taken to hospital for X-rays after aggravating a shoulder injury in the Falcons' 23-19 Zurich Premiership win over Northampton at Kingston Park.
But Andrew said: "He's fine, the X-ray has shown that there's no further damage to the break."