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Laidlaw ruled out of Scotland's Autumn tests

Greig Laidlaw has fractured his ankle. Credit: PA

Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw has been ruled out of the Dark Blues' autumn Tests after fracturing his ankle, his club side Clermont Auvergne have announced.

The former Edinburgh and Gloucester scrum-half suffered the injury during the French outfit's Champions Cup clash with Ospreys on Sunday.

Although he does not require surgery, Laidlaw has been told he faces 10 to 12 weeks out of action - meaning he will play no part as Gregor Townsend's Scots host Samoa, New Zealand and Australia at BT Murrayfield next month.

He is expected to return to action, however, in time to lead out Scotland for their RBS 6 Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff at the start of February.

It has not been confirmed whether his most recent injury is to the same joint he damaged during this year's Championships.

He tore ankle ligaments in his side's defeat to France in Paris and has not pulled on a dark blue strip since. He missed Scotland's summer Asia-Pacific tour after being called up for duty with the British and Irish Lions on their trip to New Zealand.


Wales closing on eventual successor to Gatland

Gareth Davies says Wales aren't far away from finding Gatland's replacement. Credit: PA

Wales hope to announce Warren Gatland's successor as national head coach by next summer.

New Zealander Gatland, who has been in charge of Wales since late 2007, will leave his post after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

It is understood that a list of eight possible contenders has already been whittled down to three candidates.

Speaking to reporters after the Welsh Rugby Union annual general meeting on Sunday, WRU chairman and former Wales fly-half Gareth Davies said: "We have got a target of announcing the new Wales head coach by the summer of 2018.

"We have been very busy boys over the last six months talking to various people, and we are making progress on that.

"We have caught up with various people when we've had the chance to do so."

Gatland's reign has harvested three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and an appearance in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, when Wales were knocked out by France after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off.

Current Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, who has twice stepped up to the lead coach role for season-long stints when Gatland has been on British and Irish Lions duty, could be in the frame as a successor, while Wasps rugby director Dai Young also has his admirers.

"Warren hasn't been involved in the interview process so far," Davies added.

"But we will want to use him in the business moving forward in terms of who gets the job."

Gatland is set to announce his squad for the autumn Tests later this month, with Wales facing games against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa between November 11 and December 2.

Sale's Josh Beaumont out for three months

Beaumont is yet to play for the senior England team. Credit: PA

Sale forward Josh Beaumont has been ruled out for three months with the biceps injury sustained in Friday's Aviva Premiership defeat by Harlequins.

Beaumont, an uncapped England squad member who can play at lock and number eight, was forced off in the first half at Twickenham Stoop after snapping the muscle's tendon.

"Josh will be out for three months. It's a blow as he had been playing really well and had adapted brilliantly to playing in the second row," Sale Sharks' director of rugby Steve Diamond said.

"He's had a few injury setbacks but he's only 23 and he's still a young lad. He's getting all the support he needs and I'm sure that he will come back bigger and stronger."

Beaumont's absence and the injuries incurred by Johnny Leota and Will Addison means Diamond is searching for "world class" signings at lock and centre.

"The message has gone out to agents that whether it is a short-term deal for three months or a long-term agreement for three years we are actively in the market for players in those two positions," Diamond said.


Fly-half Biggar to join Northampton next summer

Dan Biggar is heading to Northampton. Credit: PA

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar has signed for Northampton.

The 27-year-old will move to Franklin's Gardens next season, having agreed a contract that takes effect from the summer of 2018.

Biggar, who has won 56 caps and toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions this year, will move to Saints from Welsh region the Ospreys.

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