LONDON - Former England international Hendrik Fourie is set to return to his native South Africa because of visa problems. The 33-year-old has been in England for eight years, playing for northern clubs Rotherham, Leeds and Sale and his 18-month-old son, Hendro, was born in the country. However, Fourie — capped eight times by England — was forced to retire last week because of a shoulder injury and had his contract cancelled by Premiership strugglers Sale.
CARDIFF - Wales fullback Morgan Stoddart announced yesterday his retirement from rugby after failing to make a full recovery from a double leg fracture suffered in a World Cup warm-up match against England in 2011. The 28-year-old missed the whole of last season following the shocking injury he sustained at Twickenham but returned for his regional side, Llanelli Scarlets, in October. However, Stoddart was still suffering from severe leg pain and, consequently, has now decided to call time on a career that saw him score five tries in eight Tests.
GENEVA - European football's governing body yesterday said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Lazio after the Italians' Europa Cup tie with English Premier League side Tottenham was marred by racist chanting. UEFA said the charges "relate to the alleged racist behaviour of Lazio supporters" during the 0-0 draw on November 22 last year, when some sections of the Rome club's fans brandished a banner reading "Free Palestine".
Wales go cold
CARDIFF - Wales interim head coach Rob Howley signalled a break with recent practice yesterday by ruling out a trip to Poland for a pre-Six Nations training camp. Wales have travelled to Spala and Gdansk in the past few years ahead of major tournaments to make use of cryotherapy facilities where players' brief exposure to temperatures as low as -160C are said to reduce inflammation injuries and flush away toxins. Visits to Poland were widely credited with helping Wales reach the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup and take last year's Six Nations title with a Grand Slam.
MADRID - Two goals by Francisco 'Piti' Medina helped Rayo Vallecano to a 3-1 home win over Getafe in a Madrid derby yesterday in the Spanish soccer league. Rayo's Guinean forward Alhassane Bangoura dribbled between two defenders to open the scoring in the 14th minute. Getafe goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya was peppered with three shots on target which he athletically punched away in the 24th minute — only for Rayo captain Piti to latch onto a long cross from Javier Fuego and score four minutes later.
CHELTENHAM, England - Everton swept into the FA Cup fourth round with a 5-1 rout of League Two minnows Cheltenham yesterday. Although Everton are flying high in the English Premier League and harbour genuine ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League, Toffees boss David Moyes refused to rest his key players and sent out a strong side at Whaddon Road to guard against a potential third-round giant-killing.