Sport Harlequins and Leicester Tigers players leave the Twickenham Stoop pitch after the game is stopped on 'health and safety grounds'

Play was stopped on 'health and safety grounds' after Paul Sackey, Maurie Fa'asavalu and Tom Guest

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.

England and New Zealand get acquainted at Twickenham in 2012

Back-to-back All Blacks risks devaluing the Tests

The Rugby Football Union have confirmed that New Zealand would be the team launching next year's autumn series at Twickenham – the last round of cross-hemisphere matches before the home World Cup in 2015 – and presented it as headline news.

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.

English and Welsh club captains with the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups

No mood for compromise at split Heineken launch

Neither side prepared to give ground in TV row that threatens to sink competition

Quentin Smith, the chairman of Premier Rugby says, ‘The stable door has been shut and bolted’

Clubs dismiss talks and commit to new Champions Cup

England’s top-flight clubs already have a name for the tournament they say will fill the gap in the fixture list left by their abandonment of the Heineken Cup and the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup at the end of the season. It will be called the Rugby Champions Cup. More significantly at this stage of the political game, they confirmed yesterday that together with the leading French teams, their partners in rebellion, they would not engage in any mediation process aimed at saving the two existing European competitions.

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

Australia utility back James O'Connor suspended for alleged drunken airport incident ahead of South Africa and Argentina matches

23-year-old was reportedly refused from boarding a flight in Perth for being 'intoxicated' last weekend

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.

Nadia Eweida claimed she suffered discrimination at work because of her faith

Christians forced to hide their faith by equality laws, says senior Liberal Democrat MP

Britain's longest-serving current Lib Dem, Sir Alan Beith, says 'silly things' happen because people don't understand principles of secularism

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
If Andy Goode held his head in his hands as the final whistle blew, who could blame him?

Wasps 15 Harlequins 16 match report: Andy Goode's agonising late miss sums up Wasps' day

This was not what the lawmakers or more than 60,000 spectators wanted. The start and the finish, yes, plenty of excitement there but the intervening period demonstrated that the new scrummage criteria have yet to bed in and the sumptuous entertainment these two clubs laid on in the 2012 double header was completely absent.

Conor O’Shea will keep Quins wired against Wasps

Conor O’Shea: Quins will challenge – we’ve not been worked out

Harlequins have been the least active of England’s top-flight brigade when it comes to recruitment – just three signings, none of them in the first flush of youth, and some tinkering at academy level has been the extent of their summer business dealings – but the Londoners have no plans to change their hyperactive style of rugby. Conor O’Shea, the man in charge at The Stoop, is promising more of the same, with added attitude.

Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill is suspended for nine matches over his conduct in the Premiership final

Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill claims RFU have set a dangerous precedent that he expects to be maintained

Tigers director of rugby was banned for using foul and abusive language and expects anyone who swears in the future to face the same punishment

Brian Barwick with Fabio Capello during his time at the FA

Brian Barwick: Rugby Football League gets a chairman who says the unthinkable

Brian Barwick, the new boss of the RFL, tells Dave Hadfield he wouldn't mind a Super League with no London club

British & Irish Lions: There must be no pause for breath against Barbarians

The Barbarians will have to turn in one hell of a performance in 80-degree evening heat to persuade a veritable army of critics that this peculiarly misplaced opening fixture of the British and Irish Lions 125th anniversary tour was not a lot more trouble than it was worth.

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Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
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Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
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A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
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The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
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The male exhibits strange behaviour

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Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
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A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
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Marian Keyes

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Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
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Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
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Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

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Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

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