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Sexton up for world player of the year award

Sexton has been on fine form in the last year. Credit: PA

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton has been nominated for the 2014 International Rugby Board world player of the year award.

Sexton, who played an instrumental role when Ireland beat South Africa last weekend, is among five nominations announced by the IRB.

The 29-year-old has been joined on the shortlist by South Africa full-back Willie le Roux and Springboks number eight Duane Vermeulen, and New Zealand wing Julian Savea and All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick.

Lancaster optimistic over concussed forwards

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is hopeful that forwards Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley will be fit to face South Africa on Saturday.

Both players suffered head injuries against New Zealand at the weekend, but Lancaster is optimistic that they will pass the mandatory concussion tests.

Courtney Lawes, back, and Dylan Hartley, front, should be fine to play. Credit: PA

"Courtney is symptom-free so hopefully he will be okay. Dylan has also got bit of a head knock and is in the same situation," Lancaster said.

"They need to train on Thursday to be ready. They will do a cog Test on Thursday morning which they have to pass to train.

"We will have provisions in place should they fail that, but we are optimistic will be available."

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England centre Manu Tuilagi to miss autumn internationals

Manu Tuilagi.

England centre Manu Tuilagi has been ruled out of next month's autumn series because of a groin injury, his club Leicester have announced.

Tuilagi limped off after 15 minutes of Saturday's 25-18 Champions Cup victory over Ulster and will now miss the Tests against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia.

"I'd be very surprised if Manu plays any part in the autumn. He'll clearly be missing for a few weeks as a minimum," Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said.

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Martin Offiah: No need for police involvement over Ben Flower punch

Former rugby player Martin Offiah has said he doesn't see any point in "putting Ben Flower in jail" after the Wigan player twice punched an opponent during the Super League Grand Final.

Flower punched the St Helen's half-back Lance Hohaia in the face twice just a few minutes into Saturday's final. The first strike floored him, while the second came as he lay passed out on the ground.

Wigan legend Offiah said he saw no role for the police in the matter:

Flower charged by RFL and facing lengthy ban

Flower could be banned for more than eight matches. Credit: PA

Wigan forward Ben Flower faces a lengthy ban after being charged for his attack on St Helens half-back Lance Hohaia in the Super League Grand Final.

Flower could receive a suspension of more than eight matches after he was sent off for twice striking Hohaia, including once while the Saints man was on the floor, with the Rugby Football League's match review panel taking a dim view of the incident.

He has been charged with a Grade F offence - the most serious on the RFL's sliding scale - and is accused of "violent and aggressive punching on an off-guard opponent".

Hohaia has been charged with a lesser Grade B offence for starting the flare-up by putting a forearm into the face of Flower.

"Ben Flower of Wigan Warriors has been charged with the Grade F offence of violent and aggressive punching/punching an off-guard opponent (Lance Hohaia) in the second minute of the match," said a statement on the RFL website.

"Hohaia has been charged with the Grade B offence of striking Flower with the forearm in the second minute."

Greater Manchester Police look into Flower punch

Ben Flower after two minutes for a sickening punch. Credit: PA

Greater Manchester Police are looking into the incident which saw Wigan prop Ben Flower dismissed two minutes into Saturday's Super League Grand Final.

Flower knocked St Helens scrum half back Lance Hohaia unconscious with a punch while he was lying on the floor at Old Trafford.

Police say they haven't received any public complaints about the incident, but will continue to work with all relevant people involved.

After the match, Flower said: “I accept I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my career.

"It was a big night and I know I’ve taken the attention away from what was a special event.”

In Flowers absence, Wigan lost the match 14-6.

Demand high for Rugby World Cup 2015 tickets

England will fight for the World Cup on home soil. Credit: PA

Demand for next year's Rugby World Cup has been so high that ballots will take place for some seats for every match to determine who gets tickets.

At least 20 of the 48 matches will see a ballot held for all price categories with the demand also ensuring almost all of the lower price categories will be sold out even for the less high-profile games.

The sales window closed on Monday and the outcome of the ballots will be revealed in October, with any unsold tickets going on general sale in November.

Over 1,000 people took part in the world's biggest ever scrum to launch ticket sales in September. Credit: PA

England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said: "We are very pleased with the demand for tickets and the number of applications.

"It is clear that, for many matches or price categories, demand has exceeded supply and every one of the 48 matches will go to ballot in at least one of the four price categories - and it is likely that at least 20 matches will be balloted at every price category.

"We will be running ballots in the next few weeks to ensure tickets are allocated fairly and will let all customers know the results of their applications by the end of October and before we take payments."

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