Italy drop World Cup bid in boost for Ireland rugby
ITALY has withdrawn their bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, leaving Ireland to compete with South Africa and France in the selection process.
World Rugby last night expressed its disappointment that the Italian federation, the FIR, had taken the decision to pull out of the process but the governing body said it "fully understood" the call in a statement.
The World Rugby Technical Review Group are currently assessing the remaining applications ahead of the candidate phase which begins on November 1. The final decision on the bids will be announced in November 2017.
Meanwhile, outgoing Scotland coach Vern Cotter will take over at Montpellier next season after he was confirmed as Jake White's successor.
TIM RICE has brought himself back into contention for a place in the next stage of the European Tour's Qualifying School, after an improved second round in Hardelot, France.
The Irishman recovered from a double-bogey on the second and a bogey on the third to hit six birdies in the following eight holes on his way to a score of 70, bettering his first round total by three shots.
An overall score of one-over par leaves Rice three places outside the top 23, which he will need to break if he is to progress.
In Lisbon, David Carey tumbled 18 places down the standings with a second round of 75 - after Tuesday's 68 - to leave him one-under par overall and in contention to make the next stage. Walker Cup hero Gavin Moynihan (above) also slipped further off the pace with a second round score of 74 to leave him two shots behind Carey.
Elsewhere, Wales sprung a substantial shock on day two of the Senior Ladies Home Internationals, with a sublime afternoon performance helping them to a 5.5-2.5 victory over European champions Ireland.
The day began with Ireland taking a 2-1 lead in the morning foursomes, with Carol Wickham and Sheena McElroy earning a 2&1 victory over Welsh pair Ann Lewis and Sharon Roberts but hopes faded when British Senior champion Laura Webb threw away a one-hole lead from a win on the 16th by going on to lose the final two holes. Yesterday's result leaves Ireland fourth in the standings heading into the final-day fixture with Scotland, who lost 5.2-2.5 to leaders England in the day's other game. Ireland need to win to avoid the wooden spoon.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic has been forced to withdraw from next week's China Open in Beijing because of an elbow injury.
Djokovic, who is a six-times winner of the tournament and has a 29-0 win-loss record in Beijing, last played in his US Open final loss to Stan Wawrinka this month.
"I am extremely disappointed not to be able to compete at the China Open this year. I'm still recovering from my elbow injury and have been advised not to play until my condition improves," Djokovic said yesterday.
Women's world No 2 Serena Williams also withdrew from the China Open due to a persistent shoulder injury.