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
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee