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Bianchi on programme of rehab states family

MOTOR SPORT: French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi remains unconscious but has begun a programme of rehabilitation therapy, his family said in a statement yesterday.

Bianchi, who suffered the most serious F1 race injury since Ayrton Senna died in 1994 when he crashed into a recovery tractor in the wet at the Japanese Grand Prix on October 5, was transferred to a hospital in Nice last month.

"It was a significant and very comforting step for us to be able to bring Jules home to France last month, to continue his rehabilitation surrounded by his family and friends. This is very important for Jules and also for us," the statement said.

Bianchi has been treated in the Intensive Care Unit of Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU) and is now at the CHU's rehabilitation centre.

"Jules' neurological status remains unchanged; he is unconscious but able to breathe unaided," the family added. "Whilst there is no significant information to report, we take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jules continues to fight, as we knew he would."

Prices up for Rory's Grand Slam

GOLF: It's going to cost more to watch Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and friends next year in Augusta, Georgia.

The Masters Tournament raised prices for a four-day ticket to the 2015 event to $325 from $250, a 30 per cent increase and the first price jump since 2011.

The 2015 Masters, the first of golf's four annual Grand Slam events, will probably draw additional attention as McIlroy, winner of last year's British Open and PGA Championship as well as the 2011 US Open, seeks to complete the career Grand Slam with a Masters win.

A victory at Augusta National Golf Club would make the 25- year-old Northern Irishman just the sixth player to win all four of golf's modern major titles. Bobby Jones won the US and British Amateur and Open titles in 1930, the only player to accomplish the feat in a single year.

Woods was the last player, and the youngest ever, to secure all four major crowns when he won the 2000 British Open by eight shots. Along with McIlroy and 2014 winner Bubba Watson, next year's Masters field is expected to include Woods, a four-time winner who missed this April's tournament due to a back injury.

Banville blow for Slaneysiders

GAELIC GAMES: Wexford will have to plan for the 2015 season without talented forward PJ Banville as the Horsewood clubman is returning to the United States.

Following Wexford's exit from the All-Ireland SFC Banville spent the summer in New York, where he helped Kerry to the American football championship in Gaelic Park.

He returned to Slaneyside to line out for Horsewood in the Wexford SFC, but new Model County boss David Power has confirmed that he is set to return to the Big Apple.

"When I contacted PJ he was unable to commit. He is returning to America and looking towards travelling," said Power.

Daithí Waters is also set to miss the 2015 campaign having committed to hurling, while more immediately last year's captain Graeme Molloy and Anthony Masterson are ruled out of this Sunday's O'Byrne Cup clash against DIT in Gorey (2.0) as they continue to recover from injury.

Giants retain coach Coughlin

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Tom Coughlin has retained his post as head coach of the New York Giants, despite the team's failure to reach the playoffs since 2011, co-owner John Mara has announced.

The Giants went 6-10 in the National Football League regular season that ended last Sunday, but Mara said he still had faith in Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese, who will also keep his job.

"It's been a very difficult year for our fans. It's been even a more difficult year for me because I don't stomach this very well but I do think there is reason for optimism," said Mara.

Wright and Anderson progress

DARTS: Peter Wright and Gary Anderson set up an all-Scottish quarter-final at the William Hill World Darts Championship with wins over Andy Hamilton and Cristo Reyes yesterday, as Vincent van der Voort joined them in the last eight by seeing off Dean Winstanley's fightback.

Wright, last year's runner-up at Alexandra Palace, enjoyed a comfortable afternoon as he recorded a 4-0 victory over another former finalist, Andy Hamilton, in their third round clash. Anderson, the 2011 runner-up to Adrian Lewis, joined him the in the last eight as he overcame a brave challenge from qualifier Cristo Reyes to go through with a 4-1 win.