Ruck and Maul: Hopes of picking up player of the year award have all gone south

The International Rugby Board will name their world player of the year on Wednesday with the holder and only two-time winner, Richie McCaw, short odds to complete a hat-trick and the shortlist continuing the recent southern hemisphere domination. McCaw, who first won in 2006, has been nominated alongside his All Black team-mate Mils Muliaina, South Africa's Victor Matfield and Australian tyros David Pocock and Kurtley Beale, with France's resurgent back-rower Imanol Harinordoquy providing Europe's sole interest. Since Keith Wood (2001), Fabien Galthié (2002) and Jonny Wilkinson (2003), only Shane Williams (2008) has won from north of the equator. Poignantly, on the same day at 2.30pm, the memorial service will be held at London's Southwark Cathedral for a home-grown star of another era whose lustre never faded: Andy Ripley.

Carter the All Black pilot plays on a higher plane

There are times when Dan Carter seems to be taking a walk in, say, Hagley Park in his native Christchurch. Only this was an international match, with 80,000 watching to see if he would slip, taking with him New Zealand's hopes of a grand-slam tour of Britain.

All Blacks want Gear to put England in reverse

On the face of it, Graham Henry was in high good humour as he named his New Zealand side for tomorrow's set-to with England at Twickenham, delivering his wisecracks with a rat-a-tat rhythm that Jackie Mason himself might have admired. "A lot of people have been pressing us to play Hosea Gear," he said when asked about the Maori wing's promotion to the starting line-up. "My wife has been telling me to pick him; even my mother asked me why he wasn't in the team. Finally, I've bent to the pressure. It's a pain in the arse, this job."

Toby Flood confident Dan Carter can be neutralised

Toby Flood is confident England can neutralise the potent threat of Dan Carter in Saturday's clash with New Zealand at Twickenham.

Wilkinson to miss autumn Tests

Jonny Wilkinson's international career, so frequently punctuated by injury, was interrupted once again yesterday when the England medical team ruled him out of the autumn Test series in its entirety. Wilkinson, struggling with a fresh bout of trouble in the neck-shoulder area after picking up a knock playing for Toulon, was always a long-odds contender for the meeting with New Zealand at Twickenham a week today, but the red-rose management hoped he might be available for the subsequent matches against Australia, Samoa and South Africa, the world champions.

Jonny Wilkinson ruled out of Autumn internationals with injury

Jonny Wilkinson has been ruled out of England's autumn international campaign with a shoulder injury.

Wilkinson escapes operation but remains doubtful

Martin Johnson has confirmed that Jonny Wilkinson will not require shoulder surgery - but he remains doubtful for England's clash with New Zealand on November 6.

Wilkinson sent for scan on shoulder

Jonny Wilkinson underwent a scan yesterday after turning up for England duty ahead of the forthcoming autumn international campaign nursing a shoulder problem.

Peter Bills: England must not start declining Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson kicked four penalties and dropped a goal to score all Toulon’s points in their 22-15 defeat by Stade Francais in Paris at the weekend.

Flutey a doubt for England international

Riki Flutey's participation in England's opening autumn international against New Zealand is in doubt.

IRB's regulation 9 leaves clubs and countries at sixes and sevens

Complex rule over player release is casting a shadow over the home nations' autumn internationals

Round-up: Wilkinson takes it on the chin as rampant Munster hit Toulon for six

At Thomond Park yesterday, Munster went top of the Heineken Cup's obligatory "pool of death", Pool Three, by hammering Toulon 45-18. Bonus points mean that Munster lead the Ospreys by a point; the Welsh region are a point ahead of the French club and London Irish.

Burns is too hot for Italians to handle as Gloucester run riot

Gloucester 90 Rovigo 7

Wilkinson shines in sun in front of manager Johnson

Toulon 19 Ospreys 14: Fly-half combines with fellow England hopeful Sackey to give French big-spenders a precious victory over ambitious Ospreys
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Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

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Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

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Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

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SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

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Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

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Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

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Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

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