France drop Nyanga
Flanker Yannick Nyanga was dropped from the France squad to face Italy in their Six Nations opener in Rome on Sunday when manager Philippe Saint-Andre trimmed his group to 23, the French federation said on Wednesday. Louis Picamoles, Thierry Dusautoir, Fulgence Ouedraogo and Damien Chouly are the four loose forwards remaining in the squad. Saint-Andre had decided to keep 24 players from the initial 33-man squad, because of uncertainties surrounding the fitness of No. 8 Picamoles, who was suffering from a thigh injury.
Barnes linked to Japan
The coach of Australian Super 15 club New South Wales Waratahs played down reports yesterday that playmaker Berrick Barnes was leaving the side for Japan’s Panasonic Wild Knights. Barnes, 26, was linked to the Wild Knights by Australia’s Fairfax Media, who said he was due to replace France-bound former All Black Mike Delany at the end of this year’s Super 15 season. Waratahs coach Michael Cheika poured cold water on the story, saying he had received no indication that Barnes, a key player for both the Waratahs and the Wallabies, would sign with the Japanese top league. Barnes’ contract with the Australian Rugby Union expires at the end of this year. “No one says sayonara until they’ve left,” Cheika said. “My job is to make sure that this place is such a good place to be at that guys don’t want to leave.” Barnes is one of several Waratahs players reported to be looking at offshore options after a disappointing last season in which they won just four matches.
Ashe’s teeth on auction
The estate of tennis legend Arthur Ashe will be auctioned on Wednesday on the 20th anniversary of his death, with items from his wisdom teeth to prized trophies up for sale for the first time. A portion of the proceeds from the sale, to be handled by Nate D. Sanders Auctions, will benefit the Arthur Ashe Learning Center, a non-profit group that promotes Ashe’s legacy of scholarship, sports, health and service. Ashe was the first black man to win at the US Open, doing so in 1968, and at Wimbledon, taking that title in 1975. As a tennis pioneer he tore down barriers in sport and civil rights. Among the items up for sale are his 1970s passport, including a historic entry stamp to play in apartheid South Africa; hundreds of trophies, including from Wimbledon and the US Open as well as the Davis Cup; handwritten copies of his speeches on black athleticism, civil rights and AIDS; and personal items including his wisdom teeth, Davis Cup jackets and his letterman sweater at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Ivanovic tumbles out
Top seed Ana Ivanovic tumbled out of the Pattaya Open yesterday, losing in the first round to Japan’s Ayumi Morita, while defending champion Daniela Hantuchova eased into the second round. Ivanovic, who has struggled to regain the form that saw her crowned world No. 1 in 2008, lost in three sets (6-3, 5-7, 6-3) to Morita — ranked 47 places below her. Tournament late-entry Hantuchova survived a second-set scare from rank outsider Olga Puchkova and eventually won 6-1, 3-6, 6-0. In the final first-round match, seventh seed Elena Vesnina beat Greek challenger Eleni Daniilidou 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.