Ruck and Maul: England count the cost of South Africa's timely bid for World Cup

While the Rugby Football Union have been prevaricating over whether or not to bid for the 2015 World Cup, South Africa have stolen a march. After talking to their governing body, Bernard Lapasset, the president of the International Rugby Board, said: "We were delighted with the meeting and very pleased with the government support for South Africa's bid. It is not possible to host the tournament without a close partnership." England said they had doubts after the IRB asked for a guarantee of £80 million. For 2019, the figure rises to £96m. Oregan Hoskins, the South African Rugby Union president, said: "It would be a significant moment to host the tournament on the 20th anniversary of the World Cup in South Africa in 1995." The presentations will be made to the IRB in May and a decision on the hosts for 2015 and 2019 announced at the end of July.

Get Carter off the pitch

What was supposed to be a lucrative "sabbatical" in the south of France could hardly have had a worse ending for Dan Carter. On Thursday he had an operation for a ruptured Achilles tendon and will be out for at least six months. New Zealand will be regretting giving special dispensation to the world's greatest No 10. Should he have been playing at all? He missed January with an inflamed tendon and the rupture occurred when he was tackled by Juan Martin Hernandez in the last few seconds of Perpignan's 13-13 draw with Stade Français last weekend. "I took the decision to play because I felt well," he said. "I discovered another type of rugby and I like that. Maybe I'll return to Perpignan after the World Cup in 2011." Perpignan's president, Paul Goze, said: "If his Achilles hurt it wasn't imperative he played. At half-time we again asked him and he said he was OK." Carter, who was on £30,000 a match, played five games. He wanted to taste the Heineken Cup. It didn't happen.

Recruit recriminations

French police investigating possible fraudulent deals in the recruitment of players by an agent are interviewing 16 administrators from clubs including Montpellier, Toulon and Biarritz. There has been no mention of Perpignan so far.

Spencer has new home in the Shed

Carlos Spencer, Carter's All Black predecessor, made one of his swiftest breaks in joining Gloucester from Northampton. He still had 18 months to run on his contract at Saints and was on £200,000 a season but he was playing second fiddle to Stephen Myler. Is there a salary cap at Gloucester? They paid a shedload to recruit Mike Tindall and Olly Barkley.

Healey shows 'Big Tackle'

From 'Strictly Come Dancing' to rugby club troubleshooter, Austin powers ahead. The one time "Leicester Lip", who is usually found on the BBC, has his own show on ITV. 'The Big Tackle With Austin Healey' will try to change the fortunes of five struggling clubs. "It's a great vehicle to give rugby and Austin fans alike a piece of great entertainment," gushed the sponsors, O2. The viewers will be the judge of that.