Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Mark Tucker

George Ford set for England promotion but Stuart Lancaster battles

George Ford will be the talk of the town if, as widely assumed, he replaces the France-bound Toby Flood in a revamped England squad this afternoon, but the 20-year-old Bath outside-half's promotion has not been at the top of the red-rose hierarchy's agenda in recent days. Stuart Lancaster and his lieutenants are far more concerned with issues up front, where injuries to important players are making life very complicated indeed.

New year, old woes in Wales as regions fail to do deal with governing

The four Welsh regional sides – Cardiff Blues, Newport-Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – have until midnight to toe the establishment line by signing an extended deal with their governing body. As there have been precious few signs of them doing any such thing, it seems certain that political meltdown will move ever closer and the lawyers will be preparing for many a long and lucrative day in court.

More headlines

Saracens 49 Leicester 10: Billy Vunipola power leads Saracens to

Billy Vunipola was in Tiggerish mood against the Leicester Tigers as Saracens stayed on top of the Premiership with a six-try, 49-10 win at Allianz Park. The all-action England No 8, playing on Sarries’ blind-side flank, spilt a coupled of restarts amid the wind and rain, scooped up an errant opposition put-in at the scrum, scored a third-quarter try and stepped mischievously into every position at rucks and mauls: offside and on.