Saints lose injured Sproles
The struggling New Orleans Saints have lost key running back Darren Sproles for an indefinite period after he underwent surgery for a broken hand, the team said on Friday. Sproles, who set a National Football League record with 2,696 all-purpose yards last season, has been a vital cog for the Saints (2-5), catching passes in addition to returning punts and kickoffs and ranking third among Saints’ rushers. Interim coach Joe Vitt said it was too early to say when the running back might be able to return. “I don’t know that,” he told reporters in New Orleans. “We’ll evaluate him next week.”
Hooligan game denounced
As Italy struggles to bring soccer violence under control, a new board game celebrating the exploits of rampaging hooligans has been denounced by government officials. Modeled on Monopoly, Play Ultras swaps the car, the hat and the boot for miniature hooligans armed with belts, sticks and bars. Players must pass helmeted, baton-wielding riot police figurines to reach a soccer stadium. The winner is the player who can get the largest number of his pieces into the stadium to watch the game, while avoiding a stay in hospital. “This is not a positive or educational game and seems designed simply to make money,” said Roberto Massucci, the vice-president of Italy’s National Observatory for Sporting Events. Giacomo Lonzi, one of its developers, defended Play Ultras and insisted he was not encouraging violence. “I am an ex-ultra against any form of violence,” he told Corriere della Sera. “The message is: Go wild on the board with the dice — but stay calm when you go to a match.” An English-language version is in progress.
Albacete out with eye injury
Toulouse and Argentina second rower Patricio Albacete needs surgery on an eye-socket injury and will be out of action for a month, the Argentine Rugby Federation (UAR) said on Friday. “Albacete needs an operation and he’ll need 30 days to recover,” the UAR confirmed. Toulouse had originally asked Argentina to leave Albacete at his club for a key Top-14 clash with local rivals Montpellier next weekend on the eve of Argentina’s European tour Test with Wales in Cardiff. However, in Thursday’s Top-14 game with Racing-Metro he took a nasty knock. The UAR have also freed two key Biarritz players — prop Marcelo Kodela and center Marcelo Bosch — for their clash with Perpignan on Saturday. They too miss the trip to Cardiff, but will be free for the game against France in Lille on Nov. 17.
Australia hit by injury scare
Australia have suffered another injury scare ahead of the first Test against top-ranked South Africa after all-rounder Shane Watson appeared to pick up a calf strain in a first class match yesterday. The 31-year-old, whose career has been blighted by back and leg injuries, left the field during New South Wales’ Sheffield Shield game against Queensland in Brisbane after bowling just one over, local media reported. Watson stopped short after he bowled the final ball of his first over of the day. He then spoke to Australia captain Michael Clarke and left the field shortly afterward. The Australian vice captain has had problems with his left calf previously, forcing him out of Australia’s one day series in England earlier this year. His workload has also been monitored with Cricket Australia keen to ensure he was in the best possible shape for the series against the Proteas.