Sport Sam Warburton is the first to sign a Welsh central contract

Warburton became the first to agree a deal with the Welsh Rugby Union that will keep him playing for the Cardiff Blues

Uncapped Northampton No 8, Sam Dickinson

Stuart Lancaster frustrated at block on Sam Dickinson

England coach stopped by RFU agreement from bringing in impressive No 8 for autumn Tests

Richardt Strauss: The Ireland hooker is to undergo heart surgery this week

Heineken Cup final to be held in Italy... if it’s held at all

Italian rugby folk have frequently had cause to bemoan their misfortune – the Azzurri are no strangers to being diddled out of important victories by referees or being betrayed by World Cup fixture planners – so it would be just their luck to host a Heineken Cup final for the first time in a season when no one turns up. Yesterday, the tournament organisers declared that the 2015 showpiece would be played at the 80,000-capacity San Siro in Milan. It may prove a year too late.

The sporting week ahead (06/10/13)

Today

Clash of the campus titans: Varsity for beginners

Leeds student Rosie Collington is beginning to see what the fuss is about

James O'Connor in action in the Wallabies narrow win over Argentina

James O'Connor agrees early release from Australia contract after latest indiscretion saw him thrown out of Perth Airport

O'Connor was refused onto a flight just hours after the Wallabies one-point victory over Argentina

Lamb started a couple of early-season games in the absence of Toby Flood

Ryan Lamb ban could stretch Leicester

Leicester, the reigning English champions, have some serious rugby ahead of them over the next month: a humdinger derby with high-performing Northampton this weekend, quickly followed by a horribly difficult Heineken Cup trip to Belfast, a must-win home match with Treviso in the same competition and an awkward Premiership contest at Wasps – a game they will have to play without their England personnel, who will be in red-rose camp by then.

Billy Twelvetrees of Gloucester

Billy Twelvetrees agrees new deal with Gloucester

The England centre has agreed a new two-year contract

Exclusive: Ireland could miss 2015 World Cup

A senior figure in Irish rugby is claiming that none of their provinces will join the new tournament being planned by militant English and French clubs to replace the Heineken Cup in 2014, raising fears Ireland will pull out of the 2015 World Cup.

Gloucester's Nick Wood banned for stamp on Saracens flanker Jacques Burger

Nick Wood, the Gloucester prop sent off in the opening few seconds of last weekend's Premiership match at Saracens for stamping on the head of flanker Jacques Burger, has been suspended for eight weeks.

David Cameron plays down 'bunny ears' gesture from Manu Tuilagi - 'it was just a bit of fun'

The Lions player played the prank during a photo call with the PM in Downing  Street

The build-up to the 1999 World Cup, in which the Kiwis beat England in the group stage (pictured), was plagued by a similar ruckus

English World Cup could be disrupted by breakaway row

Prolonged dispute over clubs' Heineken Cup exit may undermine money-spinning event

An expansive view of how the imperious Twickenham stadium looks today

Countdown to Rugby World Cup in England hits two years

Ticket pricing and kick-off times have yet to be confirmed

Gloucester prop Nick Wood (right) is sent off for stamping

Gloucester's Nick Wood faces long ban as referees feel the strain

Nick Wood, the Gloucester prop sent off at Saracens for using the flanker Jacques Burger as a human doormat, will face a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel in Bristol on Tuesday to answer for his crime. It should not take him long – he has already apologised to all and sundry, both for stamping on Burger’s head and for leaving his team a man short for 79 minutes of an 80-minute game – but his suspension could drag on for quite a while. He will be very lucky indeed if he plays again before the end of November.

Lote Tuqiri now plays league for Wests Tigers

Lote Tuqiri set for Leinster stint

Tuqiri returns to rugby union after a previous seven year stint

Dan Cole (R), alongside Leicester Tigers and England team-mate Geoff Parling (L), has been cleared of biting in the Aviva Premiership match against Worcester Warriors
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 12 March 2015
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
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Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor