Overseas players allowed
The new Melbourne team will be allowed up to 10 overseas players in its inaugural roster for next year’s Super Rugby season under new player concessions announced by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) yesterday. The ARU board has eased its existing foreign player policy so the fifth Australian team can be competitive for next year’s season, a spokesman said. Previously, Australian states were allowed only two overseas players in their respective squads. They allowed for one “marquee” signing who has already qualified for another nation, and a development player who could qualify for Australian selection under the International Rugby Board’s three-year residency regulation. The ARU said to ensure Melbourne had a competitive squad for its inaugural year in a revamped 15-team Super Rugby competition, its board had decided to relax its foreign player policy for the fledgling franchise.
Castres consolidate lead
Castres consolidated their lead of the French Top 14 with a six-try drubbing of Albi on Sunday as Stade Francais stuttered to a drab 6-6 draw with Montauban. Clermont moved into second place with an impressive five-try 39-3 dismantling of Toulon, for whom England outside-half Johnny Wilkinson was replaced at half-time after complaining of back pains. Outplayed up-front, Toulon conceded tries to Canadian lock Jamie Cudmore, outstanding scrum-half Morgan Parra, winger Julien Malzieu and late replacement Kevin Senio, as well as a penalty try. Racing-Metro, who last lost in September, were denied a 10th successive win by Bourgoin, who triumphed 18-17 in the French capital.
Canada beat Switzerland
Taylor Hall scored twice and Jake Allen made 20 saves as five-time defending champion Canada beat Switzerland 6-1 to set up a title showdown against the US in the world junior championship. Jerry D’Amigo scored two goals to lead the Americans to a 5-2 win over Sweden in the other semi-final. The US reached the championship game for the first time since beating Canada in the 2004 final in Finland. On Thursday night in the Group A finale, Canada rallied to beat the US 5-4 in a shootout. Marco Scandella scored short-handed and Jordan Eberle, Brayden Schenn and Stefan Della Rovere added goals on Sunday to help Canada reach the final for the ninth straight year. Eberle had a power-play goal in the first period to tie John Tavares’ career Canadian goals record with 12.
Porter players face sanctions
A post-match incident involving Givanildo “Hulk” Vieira and Ionut Sapunaru may lead to sanctions for up to five Porto players. The players are being investigated for their role in a fight in the players’ tunnel after Porto’s 1-0 defeat at Benfica on Dec. 20 that resulted in a security guard being hospitalized with a head injury. Hulk and Sapunaru had been expelled by referee Lucilio Baptista. They both now face disciplinary action. Hulk’s agent, Teodoro Fonseca, told reporters the Brazilian “had been provoked from beginning to end” during the match. Security video footage showing teammates Jorge Fucile, Cristian Rodriguez and Helton could see those three also facing similar proceedings. Calls to Porto and the Portuguese Federation went unanswered.