HENRY STANDS DOWN

As expected, New Zealand rugby Union coach Graham Henry has stepped down from the head coach role. After leading the All Blacks to victory in the Rugby World Cup, this move was expected - he simply can't improve on how he has handled the task, and is leaving at the very top of his game.

The 65 year old joined the New Zealand set-up 6 years ago, and has since won countless Tri-Nations tournaments and Northern Hemisphere Grand Slams, before leading New Zealand to the ultimate victory in the World Cup, when his team out-muscled and out-manouvered the hard-working French side.

WAUGH TO RETIRE

Australian back-row legend Phil Waugh has said that he will be retiring from professional rugby. Waugh previously confirmed that he would quit his Super Rugby side the Waratahs at the end of the season and now says he is looking to go out on a high as part of the Wallabies' World Cup squad for this year's tournament in New Zealand (incidentally, Australia are well worth sticking some free rugby bets on!)

CRUSADERS DEFEATED BY THE REDS

Crusaders have been beaten by the Reds in the final series 17-16. Reds first five-eighths Quade Cooper kicked the match-winning penalty, awarded after whistle-happy Australian referee Stu Dickinson contentiously pinged Crusaders captain Richie McCaw for hands in the ruck in the 80th minute, to seal the Queenslanders' 11th win from 13 matches.

SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY STARS TRAIN

The South African Rugby stars got to train in a resort in Queensland. Springboks including locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, flanker Pierre Spies, halfback Fourie du Preez and first-five Morne Steyn are in town with the South African Bulls side.

The Bulls, who won the last two Super rugby competitions, flew to Queenstown on Sunday from Napier, where they beat the Hurricanes 26-14.

They’re in town till Friday, when they travel to Timaru for a much-anticipated clash against the Crusaders.

SA RUGBY UNION VERDICT TO BE ANNOUNCED

South African Rugby Union is set to announce its verdict on the doping case on Friday. SARU said on Thursday its chief executive officer, Jurie Roux, and medical manager, Clint Redhead, would appear at a press conference in Cape Town to reveal the verdict of a three-man SARU-appointed judicial committee, which heard the cases of the pair on Tuesday.

Ralepelle, 24, and Basson, 23, who both play for Super Rugby champions the Bulls, tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine on the Springboks' tour of Britain and Ireland late last year.

They face bans of up to two years, which would rule them out of the Bulls' title defence in the expanded Super 15, as well as the Tri-Nations and the World Cup in New Zealand later this year.

The SARU are also set to rule on the use of Artificial Grass Products for Rugby - they have been tried and tested by the South African U-20 academy with some success, and could help expand the game into new regions of the country.

FIJI RUGBY UNION COULD QUIT

Fiji rugby union board are set to to quit in the latest row with the regime. The government had threatened to withhold three million Fiji dollars ($1.6 million) in grants for this year's World Cup unless the board quit following an official probe that found the FRU mismanaged a fundraising lottery.

Bole, whose government seized power in a bloodless 2006 coup, said the board agreed to step down at a meeting Thursday and the FRU would elect new officials at the end of February.

FUSSELL EXTENDS CONTRACT

Wing Richard Fussell has extended his Ospreys contract till 2014. The 26-year-old joined the Swansea-based region in the summer from Newport Gwent Dragons on a two-year deal.

But his form has been such that he has been rewarded with a long-term deal.

"I'm over the moon. It just shows the faith that the coaches have in me to do my job on the field and as a player you can't ask for anything more," he said.

NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNION CHAIRMAN RESIGNS

The chairman of the New Zealand Rugby union resigned yesterday due to health issues. Hobbs, a former All Blacks captain, was diagnosed this year with leukemia but, after undergoing chemotherapy, was found to be suffering from more serious non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Chief executive Steve Tew said Hobbs' illness would require aggressive treatment over a longer period and, as a consequence, he had resigned from both boards.

Hobbs has been chairman of the union since 2002. He will be replaced by acting chairman Mike Eagle.

AUSTRALIA HUMILIATE THE FRENCH

Mitchell bagged a hat-trick as Australia humiliated France. The tourists ran riot in the second half, scoring six tries in 31 minutes to embarrass the reigning Six Nations champions in front of their own fans.

Les Bleus had led 16-13 at the start of the second period, courtesy of Morgan Parra's third penalty.

But the hosts had no answer to the Wallabies' devastating second-half surge, scoring seven tries in total.

After Adam Ashley-Cooper's early score, the visitors' problems at the scrum were exposed when France were awarded a penalty try and duly moved into a 16-13 lead.

JONNY BACK ON FORM

Jonny Wilkinson chose the right game to play just like he did in the olden days when he kicked Toulon to victory with 14 points - England coach Martin Johnson was on the sidelines watching! It might just saves him having to buy some England Rugby Tickets!