EDINBURGH - Scotland hooker Dougie Hall has lost his battle to be fit to face Italy in Saturday's Six Nations international at Murrayfield, the Scottish Rugby Union announced on Thursday. Hall, who started in the 38-18 defeat by England last week, has failed to recover from a knee strain suffered at Twickenham. Ross Ford was named at hooker when coach Scott Johnson unveiled his side to face the Azzurri on Tuesday, with Hall bracketed alongside Glasgow team-mate Pat MacArthur on the bench. But it is the uncapped MacArthur who will be among the Scotland replacements in Edinburgh this weekend for a match where Italy will look to build on their impressive 23-18 first round win at home to pre-tournament favourites France.
LONDON - Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher will retire from football at the end of this English Premier League season. "This will be my last season at Liverpool and my last as a professional footballer," said Carragher in a club statement on Thursday. "I'm making this announcement now because I don't want the manager (Brendan Rodgers) or the club to be answering questions on my future when I've already decided what I am going to do." The 35-year-old former England international, a rare one-club man, joined his home town outfit as a youth and has since made over 700 senior appearances following his debut in 1997.
SEATTLE, Washington - Felix Hernandez could walk into Seattle Mariners training camp on Tuesday as the highest-paid pitcher in Major League Baseball, or he might not be there at all, according to US reports.
USA Today reported on Thursday that the 26-year-old Venezuelan has agreed to a seven-year deal worth $US175 million ($F308 million), which would be the richest contract in baseball history, while MLB.com reports that no such agreement has been made. Major League Baseball's largest deal for a pitcher is currently the seven-year deal worth $US161 million ($F284 million) signed before the 2010 season began by New York Yankees star C.C. Sabathia.
LONDON - Britain is waiving its tax rules to lure Usain Bolt and other top international athletes to compete at this summer's Diamond League event in London's Olympic Stadium. The British government has agreed to an amnesty that will allow foreigners to compete tax-free at the London Grand Prix on July 27 - the anniversary of the opening ceremony of the London Games. British treasury chief George Osborne says he is "delighted to grant this exemption" and that the government "is determined to do everything possible to secure the Olympic legacy".
NELSPRUIT, South Africa - Burkina Faso have lodged an official appeal against key player Jonathan Pitroipa's red card in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final win over Ghana. As it stands, Pitroipa will miss Sunday's final against Nigeria in Soweto after picking up two yellow cards in the stunning penalty shoot-out success over the Black Stars. Pitroipa, who has scored twice in the tournament, was sent off three minutes from the end of extra time on Wednesday for diving when, in fact, he had clearly been knocked to the ground after tangling with an opponent.