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Sian Williams becomes first Welsh female professional rugby player

Sian Williams has become Wales' first full-time professional female rugby player.

Williams hopes others follow in her footsteps. Credit:

The 25-year-old flanker, who was born in Wrexham and plays for Worcester and Newport Gwent Dragons, has been awarded elite athlete status by the Royal Air Force to play rugby professionally.

It means that Williams, who joined the RAF eight years ago and is based at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, will be able to train full-time as a rugby player.

Williams has won 20 caps and also represented Wales at sevens. She made her Test debut in 2011.

"I am at a point in my rugby career where I want to keep learning and keep getting better," she said.

"Achieving elite athlete status gives me time before the next Women's Rugby World Cup in 2017 to strive for excellence and do everything in my power to become a world-class rugby player."


Bolton chairman Phil Gartside dies aged 63

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has passed away. Credit: PA

Bolton Wanderers have announced that long-standing chairman Phil Gartside has died at the age of 63.

On the Wanderers board since 1988, he served as club chairman from 1999 until stepping away from his duties in November due to illness.

Bolton said in a statement on their website: "Bolton Wanderers Football Club is deeply saddened to announce that long-standing club chairman Phil Gartside has died aged 63.

"Phil has passed away after a short and brave battle with cancer."

Hartlepool and manager Moore part company

Ronnie Moore has left his role. Credit: PA

League Two Hartlepool United have parted company with manager Ronnie Moore by mutual consent.

Moore leaves Hartlepool with the club in 22nd place, just one spot above the relegation zone.

“This is an extremely difficult decision but one we feel is right for the Football Club,” explained Chairman Gary Coxall.

“Ronnie has worked tirelessly to bring success to the Club during his time at The Vic and we thank him sincerely for those efforts and wish him well for the future.”

Former Arsenal midfielder set for Marseille debut

Abou Diaby is finally in line for his Marseille debut, 17 months after his last competitive appearance.

Who knows how long Diaby will remain fit and available? Credit: PA

The injury-ravaged former Arsenal midfielder last played in the Gunners' Capital One Cup clash with Southampton in September 2014 and joined Marseille last July.

The Ligue 1 club have waited patiently for their summer signing to regain full fitness but he has at last been included in the matchday squad for Thursday's Coupe de France tie against third-tier Trelissac.

Coach Michel told the club's website:

We will travel with a squad of 19 players which includes Abou Diaby.

He has trained with the squad in recent days and he feels ready. It is important for the player's morale, it can give him confidence. He will be on the team sheet.

It's normal that when someone goes so long without doing what he loves, he feels a bit of pressure, but I do not want him to. The most important thing is his physical and mental well-being.

– Marseille coach Michel

Swansea midfielder reveals ice pack treatment

Ki Sung-yeung missed the club's next game. Credit: PA

Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-yueng has revealed he spent two days with ice on his face after suffering concussion against West Brom.

The 27-year-old South Korean international was carried off on a stretcher during last week's 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns following a clash of heads with Albion's Stephane Sessegnon.

Swansea later confirmed Ki had suffered concussion and under Football Association guidelines he had to sit out at least six days before returning.

I felt really dizzy after the game and had a big headache for a few days, but I feel good now.

I tried to stop his shot and we both made contact with each other - it certainly wasn't intentional.

I had a few days of rest and I had ice on my face for two days, but now I'm back in training and ready to play this weekend.

– Ki Sung-yeung


Martinez: New striker ready for Everton debut

Oumar Niasse could play at the weekend. Credit: PA

Deadline-day signing Oumar Niasse could make his Everton debut against West Brom on Saturday.

The striker, who signed from Lokomotiv Moscow last Monday for £13.5million, did not have clearance to face Newcastle last week and was left out of the squad for the weekend's 3-0 win over Stoke after only completing one full training session.

Niasse, a 25-year-old Senegal international, has not played a competitive game since December.

He had one full session with the team before the Stoke game but I thought it was probably a bit too early.

This week has been completely different, he has had a really good working period and all he needs is some good solid work before he can compete in the team.

The Premier League is a competition that you have to be ready in order to have an impact.

It is important he gets the time and the understanding he needs but, at the same time, I have seen he is desperate to be involved.

– Roberto Martinez

Dortmund fans in tennis ball protest over ticket prices

Borussia Dortmund fans turned to tennis balls to demonstrate against high ticket prices, interrupting their side's DFB-Pokal win over Stuttgart on Tuesday night with an unusual protest.

A shot of the tennis balls after they were removed from the pitch. Credit: Reuters

After boycotting the first 20 minutes of the cup tie at Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Arena, where they were upset at having to pay upwards of 19.50 euros for a ticket, the fans entered the arena to throw numerous tennis balls onto the field of play.

Players from both sides helped to clear the field and ensure play was not halted for too long.

The message is understood to have been that football fans do not have as much money as followers of tennis, and they will not therefore be held to ransom over ticket prices and allow the sport to become elitist.

Stuttgart defended the price of tickets by saying that they were exactly the same as for their Bundesliga fixture with Dortmund, and unchanged since 2012/13.

Dortmund went on to win the game 3-1 and book their place in the semi-finals of the cup.

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