IRB reprimands referee
The International Rugby Board (IRB) reprimanded New Zealand referee Paul Honiss on Tuesday for encouraging players to challenge refereeing decisions. "This is clearly against IRB policy," the board said in a statement. The IRB said Honiss, who serves on the governing body's 12-man Test match referee panel, made comments on New Zealand radio last week urging the All Black players to talk more to referees and question their decisions. "Paul Honiss' comments encouraging players to verbally engage the referee more were out of line," the statement said. "He has been reprimanded by the IRB referee manager and he has been told that such actions will not be tolerated moving forward."
Du Plessis called up for Cup
Hooker Bismarck du Plessis was called up to the South African World Cup squad on Tuesday to replace injured backrower Pierre Spies. Spies was ruled out of the tournament in that begins next month in France on Monday because of clots on his lungs. He is likely to be out of action for up to eight months. Springbok coach Jake White was expected to call up another backrower in Jacques Cronje or Pedrie Wannenburg, but instead picked a third hooker to support captain John Smit and backup Gary Botha.
Hansen defeats Phelps
Even though Michael Phelps is competing in some events he rarely enters at this week's US Swim Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, the 200m breaststroke might just be off his Beijing Olympic shopping list. World-record holder Brendan Hansen won the event in 2 minutes, 9.91 seconds on Tuesday in the first finals session of the five-day meet, while Phelps finished 11th in 2:15.06. Phelps, who won six golds and four other medals at the 2004 Olympics, is still deciding which events to enter at next year's Beijing Olympics.
Top wrestler banned
Japanese authorities yesterday banned top-ranked wrestler Asashoryu from competing in the next two grand tournaments over allegations that he faked an injury, reports said. The suspension is the most severe punishment ever slapped on a "yokozuna" sumo champion since the ancient sport introduced the current grand tournament system 80 years ago. The Japan Sumo Association suspended Asashoryu from the September 9-23 autumn tournament in Tokyo and November 11-25 tournament on the southern island of Kyushu, Jiji Press and Kyodo News agencies said. The association also imposed a 30-percent cut in the wrestler's salary for four months, they said.
CBA hopeful on Yi talks
The head of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) is going to the US, hoping to break the deadlock between 2.13m power forward Yi Jianliang and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks picked Yi sixth overall in the NBA draft a month ago, but the Chinese player is reported ready to shun the NBA and play next season in China unless the Bucks trade him to a city with a larger Asian community. "I will go to the United States in the coming days to help Yi solve the problem," CBA director Li Yuanwei said in Tuesday's China Daily. Yi has been playing with China's national team in the Stankovic Cup in southern China, which features China, Angola, Slovenia and Venezuela.