Bears switch quarterback
The Chicago Bears, clinging to fading hopes of reaching the playoffs, have made a switch at quarterback by naming Josh McCown as the starter in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers instead of Caleb Hanie. “We just felt like we needed a boost,” Bears coach Lovie Smith told the league’s official Web site. Hanie, who stepped in after the Bears (7-7) lost regular quarterback Jay Cutler to a broken thumb, has thrown nine interceptions in four games (all losses) at the helm, including three in Sunday’s 38-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. McCown, who joined the Bears last month after the injury to Cutler, replaced Hanie for the last two drives against Seattle, completing one pass and tossing an interception. A third-round draft pick in 2002 by the Arizona Cardinals, McCown has attempted only eight passes and completed two since the 2007 season with Oakland. McCown was looking forward to the opportunity although he faces a difficult task stepping in against the 13-1 Packers at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.
Phelan signed for two years
Santiago Phelan was rewarded for Argentina reaching the rugby union World Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday when he was re-appointed to the job on a two-year contract. The 37-year-old former international center will lead the Pumas into their first ever Four Nations tournament next year where they will play the Southern hemisphere giants recently crowned World Cup winners All Blacks, the Springboks and the Wallabies. Phelan, who replaced Marcelo Loffreda after the 2007 World Cup when they reached the semi-finals, will prepare for the Four Nations with a home test against Italy on June 9 and two against World Cup finalists France on June 16 and 23. They open their Four Nations campaign against two-time world champions South Africa on Aug. 18 in Durban.
Kvitova wins award
Reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the world No. 2 in the WTA tennis rankings, won the Czech Athlete of the Year prize at a ceremony on Wednesday. Kvitova beat mountain biker Jaroslav Kulhavy, last year’s world and European champion and World Cup winner, and speed-skating world champion Martina Sablikova for the prize. The 21-year-old Kvitova also led the Czech women’s tennis team to the Team of the Year prize after clinching the Fed Cup trophy following a 3-2 win over Russia in Moscow last month.
Ford, Wells to leave RFU
Former England assistant coaches Mike Ford and John Wells are to leave the Rugby Football Union (RFU) with immediate effect, the governing body announced on Wednesday. Defense coach Ford and forwards chief Wells reached an agreement with the RFU after they lost their roles with the England team following the side’s World Cup quarter-final defeat by France in New Zealand in October. Ford and Wells had held their posts since 2006, coaching England through two World Cup tournaments. England team manager Martin Johnson and attack coach Brian Smith had already resigned following a World Cup campaign marred by incidents of alcohol-fueled misbehavior off the pitch. Several leaked reports into England’s performance painted a damning picture of a divided squad containing greedy players who were led by a coaching staff unable to impose discipline and lacking rugby skills compared with their rivals.