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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."

Martin Johnson has mixed emotions about England reign

Johnson's England team flattered to deceive at the 2011 World Cup. Credit: PA

Martin Johnson reflects on his reign as England manager with a mixture of regret and defiance.

The scars inflicted by the fallout from the 2011 World Cup still linger when Johnson, conducting his first media interviews since stepping down, examines his three years in charge.

England's campaign in New Zealand was blighted by disciplinary issues that reached their nadir when some players engaged in a high-profile drunken night out in Queenstown.

On the field, they performed with limited ambition or adventure, grinding out narrow victories over Argentina and Scotland before exiting the competition against runners-up France.

Looking back at it, of course I would have done things differently. We can all do that.

You do what you think is right at the time, that's all you can do. We could all say we'd go back and change things.

In 2003 once you've won the World Cup, everything is portrayed as being great and a perfect working machine.

But of course it wasn't - we were all human beings, we all made mistakes, had our frailties and did similar things that the boys did in 2011.

– Former England manager Martin Johnson

Cruden suspended for missing team flight after drinking session

Cruden admits he's Credit: PA

New Zealand rugby international Aaron Cruden has been suspended for two matches after missing his team flight to Argentina following a late-night drinking session in Auckland.

The fly half admits to being "deeply embarrassed" by his actions, and will now miss this year's Rugby Championship fixtures against Argentina and South Africa.

The 25 year-old, who has represented his country 35 times, was quick to issue an apology, saying:

"I carry the burden of shame and disappointment and I am deeply apologetic to my team, to my family, and also the New Zealand public.

"I have no excuses. I accept full responsibility for my actions and the penalty of missing the next two games, and I will work with New Zealand Rugby to undertake any other disciplinary action to work through this situation."


RFU sorry over use of Victoria Cross on England kit

England's rugby union governing body has apologised "to those who may have taken offence" to the use of the Victoria Cross on the national side's new playing kit.

England's new Canterbury-manufactured shirts feature Victoria Cross designs that comprise numerous small rubber grips to help deaden the impact of the ball.

The new England kit features numerous small Victoria Cross designs. Credit: PA Wire

Victoria Cross Trust chairman Gary Stapleton criticised the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for having had no contact with the organisation over using the emblem on the kit, which was officially launched earlier this week.

Stapleton said the move "touched a raw nerve with a lot of people."

In a statement, the RFU said:

We would like to apologise to those who may have taken offence with our new kit. It was certainly never our intention to cause this.

We are huge supporters of our service personnel and respect and value their support for England.

We will be contacting the Victoria Cross Trust and the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association to see how we can support their worthwhile work going forwards.

– RFU statement

The Victoria Cross, the British and Commonwealth armed forces' most prestigious medal, has only been awarded 1,354 times during its 158-year existence, most recently in 2012.

The new white England shirt will be worn for the first time when the side begin their autumn Test schedule aganist world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on November 8.

British and Irish Lions could be rebranded if Scotland gains independence

The British and Irish Lions may need to change their name. Credit: PA

The British and Irish Lions could be renamed 'The Lions' if Scotland votes in favour of independence during the September 18th referendum.

A spokesman for the team, represented by players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales confirmed on Friday the issue would be discussed at the next board meeting in October should Scotland leave the union.

Speaking to Telegraph Sport, England's representative on the board, John Spencer, confirmed:

"It has not yet been mentioned but if Scotland voted to become independent then the board would have discuss it at our next meeting.

"We would have to do so out of courtesy to the countries involved. That last thing we want to do is to cause offence to anyone."

Any rebrand is likely to take place before the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017.

England win Women's Rugby World Cup

England's women last won the Rugby World Cup in 1994. Credit: ITV News/Melissa Wright

England have won the Women's Rugby World Cup after beating Canada 21-9 in Paris.

It was England's fourth consecutive World Cup final, having lost all three previous finals to New Zealand, and their first triumph in the tournament for 20 years.

Former Miss Wales 'shocked and upset' over attack

Former Miss Wales and Beauty queen Sophia Cahill choked back tears as she told how Gough shoved her into the passenger door of his white VW campervan. She said she was "shocked and upset" after the attack, which happened when Gough arrived more than an hour late for a meeting at her home on the evening January 5 this year.

Sophia Cahill, former Miss Wales. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Giving evidence from behind a blue curtain, Miss Cahill had told the court: "I opened the passenger door and Ian just stormed around the front of the van. He had the front of my shoulder and he just flung me back."

Chairman of the bench Terry Carpenter told Croydon Magistrates Court the magistrates had found the evidence of Miss Cahill was "convincing" and backed up by Mr Bowers.

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