Saracens set to drop appeal over Little suspension

On Tuesday, Leicester's flanker Lewis Moody was given a six-week ban for a similar offence in the same league and Saracens had maintained they would wait for that verdict before deciding on an appeal.

The chances are that they will drop the idea, because, while Moody's was a first offence, Little's was not. He had been handed a three-match ban in February 2004 after striking an opponent, and because of his record an appeal panel would be unlikely to allow a plea in mitigation.

Saracens are likely to remain without their former Great Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell for another 10 days to a fortnight as he struggles to recover from a bruised toe.

Toulouse have announced that they will release the Wales captain, Gareth Thomas, for the Test against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 5 November. The match is being staged to celebrate the centenary of the first meeting between the All Blacks and Wales in 1905.

London Irish yesterday rounded up a serious bit of beef in the shape of 21-stone South Africa prop forward Faan Rautenbach, who is scheduled to arrive at the end of the month.

The tight-head Rautenbach, 29, who played in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, has 14 Springbok caps. He will be joined at London Irish by a fellow South African, the hooker Danie Coetzee, who is due to arrive at the club in early November.

Leicester Tigers are trying to track down their former captain John Elders, who played 144 times for the club between 1953 and 1958. The Tigers hope that Elders - one of 23 living past captains - will be found in time for the club's past captains' dinner, which forms part of their 125-year celebrations, on 26 October.

Martin Johnson and Martin Corry have already confirmed their attendance for the reunion.

The Irish Rugby Football Union will do everything in their power to persuade Brian O'Driscoll, who has admitted an interest in a move to France, that his future does not lie abroad.

Lansdowne Road chiefs are desperate to keep the 26-year-old British and Irish Lions captain in Ireland and hope to begin negotiations for a new central contract as soon as possible.

"We shall do everything to ensure Brian is not lost," said a spokesman. "The IRFU is committed to keeping all its top players in Ireland and O'Driscoll falls into that category."

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