England want Twickers
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have rejected a proposal from their Welsh counterparts that the 2015 Rugby World Cup match between England and Wales be played in Cardiff. Hosts England were drawn in the same group as Wales in Monday’s draw, prompting the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) to suggest the encounter between the sides should take place at the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh capital. England’s bid to host the event listed the stadium as a potential venue for up to eight matches, but RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said that England would prefer to tackle Wales on home ground. “We have a very nice home of our own and I would hope very much we would contemplate playing the match here,” he said on Tuesday, before proceeding tongue-in-cheek. “With our modest little stadium here at Twickenham, with the further investment we might be able to make it into a decent spot to play rugby. We equally believe we are very good hosts here and that we could hold a decent game here, and would very much want to do that. Shock, horror and astonishment that I would suggest that!” Ritchie is overseeing a ￡76 million (US$122.4 million) upgrade of Twickenham, the home of English rugby.
Toulouse star gets fine
Former Tongan and Toulouse star Finau Maka was on Tuesday given a hefty fine in France for paying an illegal Tunisian immigrant a pittance for years of housework and confiscating his passport. An appeals court in Toulouse overturned an earlier judgement that had acquitted Maka and handed him a 2,000 euro (US$2,600) fine and 5,000 euros in damages for taking advantage of Moncef Derbali and illegally employing him. Maka, who starred for Tonga at the 2007 World Cup and again last year when the Tongans claimed a famous win in the pool stage over France, was accused by Derbali of making him work on the black for four years in his villa near Toulouse and to have paid him just 1,260 euros. Maka sent the money to Derbali’s mother in Tunisia. The state prosecutor in his summing up said Derbali was reduced to a submissive state because of his “vulnerability and his dependency” (on Maka), and lived in a “lodging not compatible with human dignity.”
Ethiopia want security
Ethiopia’s soccer federation will not allow its team to travel to neighboring Eritrea for a qualifying game in the African Nations Championship because of simmering hostilities between the countries and a lack of security guarantees. Federation spokesman Melaku Ayele says Ethiopia is happy to host the Eritreans for the second leg of their tie next month, but wants a neutral venue — preferably Sudan — for this month’s first leg, scheduled for Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. Melaku told reporters yesterday: “Who can give you a security guarantee in Asmara? Nobody can give you a security guarantee ... even you foreign journalists don’t get that. That’s the reality.”
Marlins trade Escobar
The Miami Marlins continued an off-season of cost-cutting by trading away recently acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. Escobar was signed last month in a 12-player deal that sent Miami players Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to Toronto. However, the six-year player with a .282 career batting average has now been quickly shipped to the Rays in exchange for a minor leaguer.