Sport Alex Cuthbert admits that Wales will be the team to beat ahead of this year's Six Nations

Fixture list favours Wales this year although they still face a testing trip to Twickenham to take on England on March 9

Chris Ashton has vowed to maintain his try-scoring resurgence at Ireland’s expense

Six Nations: Chris Ashton insists England culture has changed

'We’re here to play rugby, to be on the back pages, not the front pages'

Former Hull chairman Adam Pearson leads the consortium

Sale of Leeds United will make GFH Capital a tidy profit

GFH bought Leeds from Ken Bates for £17m

Thomas Keneally says for him the report was ‘cosmos-changing’

Thomas Keneally: 'We used to see ourselves as the Mr Clean of sport'

Author and Manly fan Thomas Keneally reveals his shock at this week’s Australian drug report

Widespread use of performance enhancing drugs has been uncovered in Australian sport

Drugs in Sport: Stunned sports bodies admit they need help to fight back

Australian sport has reacted swiftly to the Australian Crime Commission report about widespread drugs cheating and organised crime links. Jason Clare, the national Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, summed up the mood of anger. "The findings are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans," he said. "It is cheating but it is worse than that. It's cheating with the help of criminals. We're talking about multiple athletes across multiple codes."

Clare Balding is undoubtedly a good thing, but are we in danger of having too much of her?

Out, proud and excellent at her job: Clare Balding's brilliance may just be enough to overcome the tradition of the Great British backlash

Dan’s the man: Daniel Holdsworth is one of the players who left Salford; he may solve Hull’s half-back problem as the club try to threaten the ‘Big Four’

Saving Salford gives much-needed boost

Dr Koukash flies in to ensure a full line-up of clubs start the new season

Eboni Beckford-Chambers of England defends against New Zealand last year

Netball: Goodbye to the pleated skirt as playground game grows up

England's new promise faces the toughest test with the visit of world champions Australia

RFU to investigate Leeds Carnegie v Plymouth Albion match

The game, won 34-16 by Leeds, went to uncontested scrums after just 13 minutes

The sporting week ahead (06/01/13)

Today

O'Connell captained the Lions in South Africa four years ago

Ex-captain Paul O'Connell likely to miss looming Lions tour

The chances of Paul O’Connell completing a full house of British and Irish Lions trips to the great southern hemisphere rugby nations appeared more remote than ever today, despite successful back surgery at a hospital in Dublin.

Courtney Lawes is back in squad after injury in place of Mouritz Botha

Courtney Lawes called up by England as Mouritz Botha and Tom Palmer head home

Courtney Lawes, the thoroughly modern lock from Northampton whose Test progress has been badly hampered by injury, is back in the England mix for the final international of the year, against New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday. Lawes replaces Mouritz Botha of Saracens in the match-day squad and is likely to be given a run off the bench.

Freddie Flintoff makes his boxing debut on Friday

Bunce on Boxing: Freddie Flintoff has put hard yards in – but he's no Mundine

When former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff is finally left alone on Friday night at the MEN Arena, hopefully he will not look down at the wet imprint left by his pal Ricky Hatton's stricken body on the same canvas.

Rule of thumb: Bradley Wiggins is favourite to win Sports Personality

Bradley Wiggins set for rugby sevens role

Olympic champion and Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins will be taking part in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens - as a water carrier.

Bill Drake would have thrived in the modern game

Bill Drake: Hull rugby league stalwart

Bill Drake was one half of a celebrated pair of twins who formed part of the much-feared Hull pack of the 1950s and early '60s. Unlike other twins in rugby league, notably Keith and Kevin Rayne and Kevin and Bob Beardmore, Bill and Jim were not identical, in build or in style of play. Jim, the elder by 10 minutes, was a squat, aggressive prop, a renowned handful on the pitch. Bill, who has died four years to the day after him, was tall, athletic and stylish.

Andy Hazell

Andy Hazell claims he was provoked following frenzied attack on opponent during Amlin Challenge Cup clash

Gloucester flanker Andy Hazell has claimed that he reacted to provocation in last night's Amlin Challenge Cup clash against French club Mont-de-Marsan. 

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas