Duck lovers take action
Animal lovers in Australia have cried foul over a Sydney golf club's plan to cull native wood ducks living on its course, it was reported yesterday. The plan by Sydney's Warringah Golf Club to kill the ducks because they are ripping up its greens led to vandalism and threats against the course, local media reported. The club opted to hire a marksman to shoot its duck population after other deterrents, such as cat-like objects and rubber snakes, failed to work. But protesters dug up some of the greens in the dead of night over the weekend and left a threatening note after learning of the plan, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said. "Warning: you bastards kill one bird and we will destroy all your greens at our leisure. We will be watching and waiting," the note said. Club manager Brian Leggett said it had decided to cancel the cull because of the vandalism.
Hakuho beats Kyokutenho
Grand champion Hakuho beat fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho yesterday to move into a four-way tie for the lead on the 10th day at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka, Japan. In the day's final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Hakuho quickly took a left-hand grip on the belt of Kyokutenho before forcing him out of the ring in a matter of seconds. Hakuho, who is gunning for his second title at sumo's highest rank, improved to 8-2. Fourth-ranked maegashira Kyokutenho dropped to 2-8. Ozeki Chiyotaikai, Kotomitsuki and rank-and-filer Baruto stay in the hunt for the title in the 15-day tourney.
Ballack plans return
Michael Ballack hopes to be playing for Chelsea before the end of the year. The Germany captain has not played since April after undergoing two operations on his left ankle. "I am making great progress. I started training last week and December looks good," Ballack said on Monday. "But I am not setting a specific goal or date when I'd like to play again. I am taking it week by week." The midfielder said he hoped to play for Germany when they play Austria in Vienna on Feb. 6. He was in Frankfurt to see Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt, who works for the national team and also for Bayern Munich, Ballack's former club. Ballack also took part in the first round of negotiations with the German soccer federation over bonus payments to players during next year's European Championship in Austria and Switzerland.
■ RUGBY UNION
Robinson to coach A team
Andy Robinson, the former England rugby coach, is returning to the international scene with the Scotland A team. Edinburgh coach Robinson, together with Glasgow counterpart Sean Lineen, will take charge of the Scotland reserve side this season with the pair combining their international work with club commitments. Robinson was forced out as England coach in November last year after the national side lost 13 of 22 Tests during his two years in charge. However, the ex-England flanker -- assistant to England's World Cup-winning boss Clive Woodward in Australia in 2003 -- returned to senior rugby when he took charge of Edinburgh last month. Robinson could now coach against England's A side in North America in June during the Churchill Cup, a tournament for emerging nations and second-string teams from major Test countries.