The BBC football pundit Alan Hansen knows a thing or two about centre-halves, having been one of the finest the British game has ever seen during his playing days with Liverpool, so it was worth listening in 1996 when he described Dean Richards as the most promising young central defender in England. The tall, commanding Yorkshireman, who combined brawn and elegance to an unusual degree, became the costliest player in the land without a full international cap when he switched from Southampton to Tottenham Hotspur for £8.1m in 2001.
Wolves and Tottenham will stage a joint tribute to Dean Richards, their former centre-half whose death was announced on Saturday, when they play each other at Molineux next weekend.
Wigan manager fumes over off-the-ball forearm and accuses United of targeting McCarthy
Leicester's director of rugby tells Hugh Godwin about runs-ins with refs, trying to control his temper and Leicester's magic ingredient
A former Harlequins physiotherapist will appear before a Health Professions Council (HPC) conduct hearing today over the 'Bloodgate' scandal.
Leicester 37 Exeter 27
On the field at least, Wayne Rooney has stood up pretty well to a week which most people would consign straight to hell. He may even outrun the latest blistering accusation, from the broadcaster Gabby Logan, that he committed a grave act of hypocrisy by wearing a plastic rosary to training while awaiting the reports of his whore-mongering, a charge that we have to believe has the more worldly inhabitants of the Vatican doubled up in uncontrolled mirth.
English rugby's disciplinary classes may have made their peace with Brendan Venter – while the Saracens boss had two almighty run-ins with officialdom last season, relations are now said to be extremely cosy – but as the equally controversial figure of Dean Richards is looming large on the horizon, this is far from the end of their troubles. Richards, kicked out of the sport for three years after belatedly admitting to his starring role in the fake blood scandal at Harlequins, is currently in discussions with senior figures about taking tentative steps back into the game he disgraced.
Wales have enough problems before facing France without ostracising their motorway golf-cart driver
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
Vote for your favourite sporting moments of the decade
Fly-half watches England hopes recede as Walder keeps No 10 shirt at Wasps
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.
Simon Shaw is in line to make his England return against New Zealand this weekend as the pressure begins to grow on Martin Johnson's management team.
The Rugby Football Union's disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett last night revealed the Bloodgate scandal at Harlequins shook his faith in the game more than any other incident.
The England captain Steve Borthwick has given his approval to the expansion of the Professional Rugby Players' Association into a new organisation catering for players inside and outside the game's elite.