Rugby Union: Carling dropped by Quins

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Will Carling, the former England captain , has been dropped by Harlequins for their London derby with Wasps on Saturday.

Carling has failed to attend Quins' training sessions in recent weeks, during which time he has been ill, and the Quins coach, Andy Keast, said: "We have a strict policy that first-team players must train regularly with their colleagues. We're professionals now and practice needs to be 100 per cent without absentees."

Northampton's Nick Beal will be out of action for three months after undergoing surgery on both his legs. Beal had repairs carried out to a torn tendon in his right knee and shin splints in his left leg.

Gloucester have signed the Newbury wing Brian Johnson on loan and plan to thrust the prolific try-scorer straight into Allied Dunbar Premiership action at Newcastle on Sunday.

Bath have recalled their transfer-listed England A player Richard Butland for the Premiership game against the leaders, Saracens, at Watford. Butland plays as Mike Catt is still recovering from concussion suffered during England's defeat by South Africa 11 days ago.

European Conference organisers have announced that the final on 1 February will be staged in England if Newcastle Falcons beat Agen on Saturday week. Headingley, home to Leeds rugby league club, has been chosen as a provisional venue, although if Falcons lose, the final will be staged in France.