FUSSELL EXTENDS CONTRACT

Wing Richard Fussell has extended his Ospreys contract till 2014. The 26-year-old joined the Swansea-based region in the summer from Newport Gwent Dragons on a two-year deal.

But his form has been such that he has been rewarded with a long-term deal.

“I’m over the moon. It just shows the faith that the coaches have in me to do my job on the field and as a player you can’t ask for anything more,” he said.

NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNION CHAIRMAN RESIGNS

The chairman of the New Zealand Rugby union resigned yesterday due to health issues. Hobbs, a former All Blacks captain, was diagnosed this year with leukemia but, after undergoing chemotherapy, was found to be suffering from more serious non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Chief executive Steve Tew said Hobbs’ illness would require aggressive treatment over a longer period and, as a consequence, he had resigned from both boards.

Hobbs has been chairman of the union since 2002. He will be replaced by acting chairman Mike Eagle.

AUSTRALIA HUMILIATE THE FRENCH

Mitchell bagged a hat-trick as Australia humiliated France. The tourists ran riot in the second half, scoring six tries in 31 minutes to embarrass the reigning Six Nations champions in front of their own fans.

Les Bleus had led 16-13 at the start of the second period, courtesy of Morgan Parra’s third penalty.

But the hosts had no answer to the Wallabies’ devastating second-half surge, scoring seven tries in total.

After Adam Ashley-Cooper’s early score, the visitors’ problems at the scrum were exposed when France were awarded a penalty try and duly moved into a 16-13 lead.

JONNY BACK ON FORM

Jonny Wilkinson chose the right game to play just like he did in the olden days when he kicked Toulon to victory with 14 points – England coach Martin Johnson was on the sidelines watching! It might just saves him having to buy some England Rugby Tickets!

With a performance that showed Wilko has managed to turn back the clock over recent years (probably something to do with being properly protected in Toulon, as well as the more relaxed climate and media attention), Jonny is now a dead-cert to be kicking again for England in the autumn internationals.

Wilkinson landed 14 points and bossed Toulon to the late victory over the Ospreys before saying that he knew the England management team were at Stade Mayol but it had not affected his game.

“It’s not a case of trying to impress and show what I can do,” said Wilkinson modestly. “It’s more the advice I need but I haven’t spoken to them yet.” There was one moment of alarm for Johnson and co, but the No10 dusted himself off after one particularly heavy tackle to announce that once again he had again come through almost unscathed.

“My knee is a bit sore now but thankfully it’s my good knee,” Wilkinson said. England expects….

WOOD DELIGHTED WITH THE START

Northampton signing Tom Wood says that he is delighted at the start that Northampton Rugby Union have made. The 23-year-old back-row, who joined Saints from Worcester this summer, has figured in the starting line-up against both Leicester and Harlequins.

“It’s something to be really proud of,” Wood told BBC Radio Northampton. “I came in and worked hard all through pre-season and have been lucky enough to get a couple of starts,” he added.

“I was really impressed with the way the Saints played last season. I thought they were on great form. And I’m really enjoying myself here so far. I’ll keep grafting to make sure that stays the case.”

LONDON IRISH WIN

London Irish managed to win against Saracens 33-16. Ernst Joubert’s try opened the scoring for Sarries before Ryan Lamb kicked a penalty for the Exiles.

Schalk Brits muscled over before Lamb struck again just before half time.

Irish then came alive with tries from Delon Armitage, Sailosi Tagicakibau, a penalty try and Tospy Ojo to outscore Saracens 27-6 after the break.

In a game that saw four yellow cards – two on each side – Joubert crossed in the corner after some slick handling from Brits and Chris Wyles while Delon Armitage sat on the sidelines after a professional foul.

Alex Goode, who was starting the game at fly-half, missed with the conversion and it was to prove the opening act of a disappointing performance for one of Sarries’ star performers of last season.

Joubert provided the impetus for the second try with a penetrating break from the base of the scrum on Exiles’ 22 before Brits handed off Delon Armitage, just back on the field, to score. Goode again failed to add the extras.

London Irish celebrated by giving their fans coupons to buy the match on DVD for just £3.

LEICESTER WIN DRAMATIC FINAL

It was, by common consent, the best Premiership final ever.

And when Glen Jackson’s fifth penalty flew between the posts after precisely 76 minutes and four seconds to give Saracens the lead for the fifth time in an absolute belter of a game it looked as though it was about to produce a brand new champion of England.

But finals rugby can be a cruel game. Toby Flood’s hanging kick at the re-start was claimed by Scott Hamilton and after he scissored with Dan Hipkiss, it was Jackson who scragged the Leicester centre around the neck before falling off the tackle.

With the referee’s arm indicating a penalty to the Tigers, Hipkiss burst out of the throng and raced over for the winning score.

“It was a high tackle, I think the guys just slacked off and he just slipped through there,” confirmed Saracens captain Ernst Joubert after the game.

“Fair play to Floody [Toby Flood],” said Tigers boss Richard Cockerill.

“We practise re-starts a lot. A lot of the time he bottles it but he kicked it in the right spot, Scotty catches it and we win the game. Fair play to the players really. They made the call under the posts.”

There was still time for Saracens to fashion one final attacking position, but Leicester second row Geoff Parling soared highest to produce a line-out steal that brought back memories of Justin Harrison’s dramatic poach for Australia in the third Test against the Lions in 2001.

Leicester’s 33-27 win gave them their third title in four years, and their ninth overall, to confirm their status as the most successful club in England.

England Six Nations Fixtures Planned

The Six Nations committee announced on Wednesday that England would travel to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Feb 4, the first time in the 127 years of the Five or Six Nations that it will not start on a Saturday.

It will also be the first time that two Home Union sides will meet on a Friday night. France hosted Wales at the Stade de France in 2009 before the corresponding game in Cardiff in this year’s championship.

The Friday night project has so far not been popular with supporters or players, but last month the committee took the decision to continue with it after a two-year trial because so far the matches have commanded record shares of viewing figures while the Wales v France match proved to be the most financially lucrative of the season for the Welsh Rugby Union.

The scheduling of the Friday night match, which will have a 7.45 kick-off, however, prompted criticism from supporters and warnings from the two main train companies serving the Welsh capital. Twickenham has already been ruled out as a Friday night venue because of police concerns about associated traffic problems.

“Switching the game to a Friday night will impact greatly on supporters trying to get to the game at what will be rush hour at a time of the year when weather can wreak havoc,” said Helen McAteer, secretary of the Northampton Saints supporters’ club.