■ RUGBY UNION
Gatland close to Wales job
Former Ireland rugby union coach Warren Gatland is close to being appointed Wales boss, the New Zealander told BBC Wales on Monday. The 44-year-old former hooker -- who was never capped by the All Blacks despite being on the bench many times as understudy to Sean Fitzgerald -- said that there were only minor issues to be resolved after holding talks with the Wales Rugby Union over the weekend. Gatland, who coached Ireland from 1998 to 2001 when he was sacked and replaced by his assistant Eddie O'Sullivan, has enjoyed success with English Premiership side Wasps before going back to New Zealand to be coach of the Waikato National Provincial Championship side. He was one of three candidates interviewed as a replacement for Gareth Jenkins, who was sacked when Wales exited at the first stage of the World Cup.
Figo under knife over tibula
Inter Milan's veteran midfielder Luis Figo was to undergo surgery yesterday on a fractured fibula suffered in his club's 1-1 draw with Juventus at the weekend. Figo's injury comes at a bad time for Inter who are already without the services of defender Marco Materazzi and midfielders Patrick Vieira and Dejan Stankovic. The former Portual international suffered the leg injury in a clash with Juventus' Pavel Nedved on Sunday, his 35th birthday. Inter reported in a statement on Monday: "Luis Figo underwent a series of medical tests today to determine the extent of the injury which forced him out of the match against Juventus." The Italian league leaders, who face CSKA Moscow in the Champions League today, added that doctors had detected a multiple fracture of his fibula on his right leg. The statement did not specify how long the 2002 Ballon d'Or would be unavailable.
Pelous looks set to retire
France's caps recordholder and former captain Fabien Pelous looks set to announce his international retirement in Paris today after announcing that he was to hold a press conference at the French Rugby Federation's headquarters. The Toulouse lock, who will turn 34 on Dec. 7, won the last of his 118 caps in the World Cup semi-final defeat by England last month but while he has not said what he is announcing -- even his club did not learn of the press conference until Monday, it appears likely that he will bring down the curtain on a stellar international career. Pelous, who has not played for Toulouse this season because of a rib injury suffered in the defeat by England, was a member of the French side that reached the 1999 World Cup final, losing to Australia, and two successive semi-finals, both times losing to the English.
■ HORSE RACING
Emir buys broodmare
The Emir of Dubai paid US$10.5 million to buy Irish-bred Playful Act at Keeneland's Breeding Stock Sale on Monday, a world record auction price for a broodmare. The bidding was another showdown between two titans of the horse breeding industry, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stud and Coolmore Stud of Ireland. "When those two teams hook up, neither one of them wants to stop," said John Sikura of Hill 'n' Dale Bloodstock, who consigned the horse for Swettenham Stud of Australia. "It's a test of wills, test of ego. They bought a fantastic mare. Obviously we wish them nothing but the best and hope she'll bring a champion." John Ferguson, the buyer for the sheik, said he was determined to get the horse, in part to honor Swettenham's late owner, Robert Sangster, who always talked her up.