Sport

It is to be hoped Phil Godman enjoyed the Doctor Who special on Saturday evening because earlier in the day the Newcastle fly-half’s adventures in space and time had an unhappy ending thanks to the tackling of Courtney Lawes.

Cockerill earns a reprieve while Venter rues union's rough justice

The Rugby Football Union really has it in for the Saracens boss Brendan Venter: even when criticising a rival coach, it cannot help laying into the World Cup-winning Springbok. While Venter prepares to spend the weekend babysitting his five-year-old son Joshua at the family home in St Albans – he has little else to occupy him, having been excluded from Twickenham and its environs for the duration of tomorrow's Premiership final with Leicester – the governing body continues to attack with him with every available weapon.

Disgraced Richards deserves award nomination says McGeechan

Sir Ian McGeechan believes banned former Harlequins boss Dean Richards deserves his nomination for a top European Rugby Cup award.

Harlequins admits stain of 'Bloodgate' has lingered

Harlequins chief executive Mark Evans admits the Bloodgate stain will never be permanently removed from the club's reputation.

David Flatman: Cold shoulder is harsh after the hard shoulder

Wales have enough problems before facing France without ostracising their motorway golf-cart driver

Nick Easter: 'It's great to have our cavalry back again'

He is among the many big guns returning to boost England. The No 8 tells Hugh Godwin why it's time for them all to stand up and be counted in the field

Ruck and Maul: Christmas message is to give rugby fans more one-off games

What, we wonder, is the real message of Christmas? By which we mean the gobsmacking 70,000-plus spectators due at Twickenham today for Harlequins v Wasps in the Premiership, which will help beat the attendance record in a single round of matches, currently 108,467 from this season's opening weekend. Is it the cheaper tickets, the lure of a national stadium or – just a theory – that rugby fans instinctively appreciate the one-off showpiece? Maybe it's time to cut back on league games, to protect players' bodies and to concentrate on what the masses appear to want. Internationals, cup finals, touring teams (e.g. Saracens v South Africa and Barbarians v All Blacks) and even the arcane fixtures like the Varsity and Army v Navy matches, watched by crowds of 30,000 and 50,000 respectively this year.

David Flatman: TV deal is great but ugly side of rugby on show

View from the front row with Bath and England prop

O'Shea inspired by Harlequins challenge

New Harlequins rugby director Conor O'Shea admits the chance of working in top-flight rugby union again was too good to turn down.

Sport Vote: Villain of the Decade

Vote for your favourite sporting moments of the decade

Cipriani left frustrated by warming the bench

Fly-half watches England hopes recede as Walder keeps No 10 shirt at Wasps

O'Shea is in contention for top job at Harlequins

Conor O'Shea, the former Ireland full-back whose post-playing career has seen him take on a number of increasingly demanding administrative jobs, is the latest man to be linked with the vacant director of rugby post at Harlequins. The Londoners have been on the recruitment trail since the summer, when Dean Richards fell on his sword over the fake blood scandal that shook the professional game to its core. Richards is now in the early months of a three-year ban.

Richards edges thrilling battle for Light Blues

Oxford 27 Cambridge 31

Quins refuse to rule out future role for Richards

Disgraced ex-rugby director 'did amazing amount for this club' says chief executive

Wasps in the clear after refusing to play at Sale

Tribunal dismisses charges against London club which found pitch not to its liking

Quins close in on securing replacement for Richards

Harlequins, who will find themselves in the bitter-sweet position of sending their fellow close-season miscreants Bath to the foot of the Premiership table if they lose at Leeds tonight, intend to name a new director of rugby before the end of the month. The lengthy process of identifying a successor to the disgraced Dean Richards, who resigned during the summer as a consequence of the fake blood scandal that spawned a dozen tribunals and inquiries, is nearing its conclusion and the Londoners expect to put supporters out of their misery within a fortnight.

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These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

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