n John Duffy has had to withdraw from Scotland's Alitalia European Cup squad with a back injury and has decided to retire after a 16-year career as a result, writes Henry McCall. The half-back suffered with the injury throughout the 2012 season and, after seeing a specialist, has been advised to retire prior to Scotland's campaign.
"It's been an emotional few days," said Duffy, who was the youngest to play for his country when he made his Scotland debut in 1997 against France, aged 16. "I'm sad to miss Scotland's games as they were going to be my swansong. I was so proud every time I joined up with Scotland; Steve [McCormack] and Dave [Rotheram] have created a great environment which brought out the best in us."
Duffy, who played for Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, Salford City Reds and Whitehaven, has secured a coaching role at his current club, Leigh Centurions, in their youth system and will complete his testimonial season with a dinner next Friday at Leigh Miners Welfare.
n Ben Fisher, the former Hull Kingston Rovers and Scotland hooker, has been appointed assistant coach at London Broncos. The 31-year-old Scotland internationalist spent the 2012 season on loan at Catalan Dragons and will now retire from playing.
Scotland's Andy Fenn slipped down the general classification and out of contention for a high overall finish after struggling in yesterday's second stage at the Tour of Beijing, writes Colin Renton. The 22-year-old, who started the day in second place, was more than 13 minutes adrift of Tony Martin, his Omega Pharma QuickStep colleague who powered his way to a solo victory, crossing the line 46sec clear of an eight-man group. It puts him firmly on track to retain the title when the race finishes on Saturday. Fenn is 81st, with his best chance of finishing the season on a high being a possible stage win over the next three days.
Scotland's Janice Moodie has been appointed captain of the Europe PING Junior Solheim Cup team for 2013 in Colorado, writes Kathy May. "It is such an honour," she said. "The golfing talent of these girls is of such high standard that I can't wait for them to be inspired to one day play on the Europe Solheim team." The biennial PING Junior Solheim Cup features the 12 best female players, born during or after 1995, from Europe against their American counterparts, and will be held in August 2013 at the Inverness Hotel & Golf Club in Denver, Colorado.
Glynhill Kelburne will not relish their away tie against Milne Craig Western's second string at Titwood in the first round of the Arthur McKay Women's Scottish Cup, writes Craig Madden. Western's reserve outfit, who were in division one of the Aberdeen Asset Management national league a few years ago, have a history of dumping top-flight sides out of the competition. Older members of the Kelburne squad will remember just such a result at the same venue a couple of years ago .
Holders Grove Menzieshill have a bye, but last year's other finalists, Dundee Wanderers, have a potentially tricky assignment away to Watsonians. The Edinburgh outfit, fifth in division two, were almost promoted last year but lost to Western Wildcats 2-0 in a play-off. Milne Craig Western, Giffnock and Edinburgh University should advance against lower league sides.
Draw. Arthur McKay Scottish Women's Cup. Rd 1 AAM Merlins Gordonians v Highland, Aberdeen Ladies v Granite City Wndrs, CALA Edinburgh v Watsonians A, Edinburgh Uni A v Edinburgh Uni, Glasgow Acads v Inverleith, Grange EL v Giffnock A, Grove Menzieshill A v Glasgow Uni, Hillhead Ladies v CALA Edinburgh A, Kelburne A v Glasgow High Kelvinside, Milne Craig Western v Erskine's/Stewart's-Melville FP, Milne Craig Western A v Glynhill Hotel Kelburne, Stirling Wndrs v Giffnock, Watsonians v Dundee Wndrs, Western Wildcats v Grange EL A. Byes: Grove Menzieshill, Aberdeen Uni. Ties to be played on Saturday Feb 16
n The International Hockey Federation have shelved controversial new rules for the indoor version of the game, just before the start of the indoor season, so all competitions will be played to the regulations in operation since January 2011. The aborted innovations were to ban the use of the hand on the floor of the court, even when holding a stick, and the introduction of the "own goal" which is already in use in the outdoor game. Negative feedback from several national associations forced the rethink. Scottish Hockey had intended to use the new rules in the national indoor league, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management, but the FIH u-turn will force a reversal of that decision.
Edinburgh Monarchs have scored 56 points in a meeting nine times this season and will need to do so again tomorrow if they are reach the final of the Premier League Knockout Cup at Ipswich Witches' expense, writes Nigel Duncan. Their No.1 Craig Cook returns after injury and James Sarjeant steps in at reserve as Marcel Helfer is riding in Pardubice, Czech Republic. Ipswich won 55-35 on their track on October 4 but will be without Dakota North, their top scorer in the first leg.
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