Toulouse's two-time Rugby World Cup winner Jerome Kaino says he will definitely retire at the end of this season.

The 37-year-old former New Zealand international, who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2011 and 2015, had previously stated that he is likely to hang his boots up next year.

Kaino, who won 81 caps in an illustrious All Blacks career, has now confirmed he will bring his playing days to an end in 2021 but would like to remain with Top 14 club Toulouse in a coaching capacity.

"One hundred percent, this is my last year as a player," he told RMC Sport. "All the players who retire are used to saying it: you know when it is the right moment.

"I feel that I am not going to get any younger, although I still enjoy playing rugby. But I think new players are coming and in particular a new generation looking to the future. I am ready to hang up the spikes."

He added on the prospect of taking up a coaching role: "We talked about it with Ugo [head coach Mola] and Didier [president Lacroix].

"I would be very happy to work with them, because the club has been amazing for me and my family and I love my life in France. So if I can stay a few years learning French, I would like to stay."

Pablo Matera could face a second round of disciplinary action after Stade Francais said the sacked Argentina captain would be summoned by management when he returns to Paris. 

The 27-year-old was stripped of the Pumas armband and suspended on Tuesday after "discriminatory and xenophobic" social media posts between 2011 and 2013 were discovered. 

The Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) also stood down Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from international duty ahead of Saturday's Tri Nations meeting with Australia. 

A disciplinary process has begun, with the UAR stating: "Although the messages were published between 2011 and 2013 and do not represent the personal integrity the three showed during that time with the Pumas, the Argentine Rugby Union condemns any expression of hatred and we consider it unacceptable that those who express them represent our country." 

The revelation about Matera's comments caused dismay at Stade Francais, the French club he joined from Jaguares 12 months ago. 

In a statement on their website, the club said: "Following the revelations by certain media of posts made in 2012 by player Pablo Matera on the social network Twitter, the Stade Francais Paris club wishes to note its total opposition to these unacceptable remarks and comments. 

"We also want to remember that since his arrival at the club in December 2019, our player has always been irreproachable in his attitude towards his team-mates and opponents, both on and off the pitch. 

"On his return from international duty, the player, who has already publicly apologised, will be summoned by club management."

Former France internationals Serge Betsen, Vincent Clerc and Dimitri Yachvili have paid tribute to Christophe Dominici following the death of their old team-mate.

Dominici passed away at the age of 48 on Tuesday, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and the player's former club Stade Francais confirmed, with the cause of his death not yet revealed.

Toulon-born Dominici, who played at full-back and on the wing, won 67 caps for his country and scored 25 tries.

Only Clerc (11) has scored more tries for France at a Rugby World Cup than the eight managed by Dominici, who made his debut for Les Bleus against England in 1998.

Clerc, who played 67 times for France, posted on Twitter: "Thank you Domi for everything you brought to French rugby and all these good times spent with you."

Betsen earned many of his 63 caps alongside Dominici, and also tweeted: "Very very touched by this terrible and sad news of my playing brother Christophe Dominici. The inspiration and soul of a warrior. I am very sad."

Dominici won the French title five times during a long, successful club career with capital club Stade, where he was employed as a coach after retiring.

Former France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili wrote: "I'm sad. My heart bleeds. You will forever remain an artist, an endearing and elusive man, a legend of our sport. A thought for your family and loved ones. Rest in peace Domi."

Ex-England star Jonny Wilkinson also offered his condolences.

"The death of Christophe Dominici is terribly sad. We think of all his relatives. The world of sport has lost a true legend," the World Cup winner posted on Twitter.

Wilkinson's former England team-mate Jason Robinson added: "Had the privilege of playing against the France rugby legend Christophe Dominici on many occasions. Such sad news to hear of his passing. Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends. RIP."

Former France international Christophe Dominici has died at the age of 48.

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) and Dominici's former club Stade Francais confirmed the Bleus great had passed away on Tuesday, with no cause of death revealed.

Versatile back Dominici, who operated on the wing or at full-back, won 67 caps for his country and scored 25 tries.

The Toulon-born Dominici is France's second-highest Rugby World Cup try-scorer with eight, a tally only Vincent Clerc has bettered.

The FFR tweeted: "The great French rugby family is in mourning after the tragic death of our winger Christophe Dominici, we are thinking especially of his family and loved ones."

Dominici won the French title five times during a long, successful club career with capital club Stade, where he employed as a coach after retiring.

The Top 14 club posted on Twitter: "It is with immense sadness and heartbreak that Stade Français Paris learned of the death of Christophe Dominici.

"Rugby genius and peerless companion, he leaves a great void in our big family. Our thoughts are with his partner and his daughters."

Governing body World Rugby also paid tribute to Dominici.

"A legend of @FranceRugby and an all-time great of the game. Rest In Peace, Christophe Dominici," the organisation posted on social media.

Scotland fly-halves Finn Russell and Adam Hastings have been ruled out of the Autumn Nations Cup.

Russell limped out of the Six Nations win over Wales last weekend with a groin injury and will not be available for the games against Italy, France and Fiji this month.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is optimistic the Racing 92 playmaker will be available for the 2021 Six Nations.

Hastings is expected to miss the tournament next year after doing damage to his shoulder following his introduction as a replacement for Russell at Parc y Scarlets

Townsend told BBC Scotland: "Finn we hope will be back in time for the Six Nations, but it's unlikely Adam will be back before the end of that tournament.

"At the very best he'll come back at the end, but that will depend on how things go."

Scotland face champions England in their first game of the Six Nations at Twickenham on February 6.

Stade Francais have cancelled a friendly against Toulon as players who tested positive for coronavirus have developed lesions on their lungs.

L'Équipe last week reported that up to 25 positive tests have been returned at the Top 14 club.

Stade were due to face Toulon next Thursday, but the Paris giants on Wednesday revealed that match will not go ahead as some players who contracted COVID-19 must rest for at least another week.

"In light of the mandatory medical examinations for all players who have tested positive for the COVID-19 RT-PCR test, it appears that some of them are carriers of lung damage due to the virus," a club statement said.

"These lesions require a period of complete rest estimated for the moment at a minimum of one week and which will be added to the fourteen already observed.

"Other reviews are currently under way.

"In addition, the input of the medical commission of the National Rugby League for an advisory opinion resulted, for obvious health reasons, in the cancellation of the friendly match against RC Toulon scheduled for August 27.

"Once again, the club would like to thank all those who have shown their support during these last days."

Stade are due to get the new season started against Bordeaux-Begles on September 4.

Stade Francais have signed Telusa Veainu from Leicester Tigers, as well as Gloucester's Gerbrandt Grobler. 

Veainu, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, has agreed a three-year deal with the Top 14 heavyweights as Leicester cut costs due to the coronavirus crisis. 

South African lock Grobler will join Veainu in Paris, signing on for two seasons with the option for a third. 

Tigers director of rugby Geordan Murphy spoke of his disappointment that Tongan Veainu has left Welford Road after almost five seasons at the Premiership club. 

"Murphy said: "We thank Telusa for all that he has given to Leicester Tigers during his time with us. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been lost on anyone and, while we hoped to see Telusa play out the remaining one-and-a-half seasons of his contract with us at Tigers, we appreciate the varying individual circumstances of all our players and wish him, his partner and child well in their next chapter in Paris." 

England centre Manu Tuilagi also left the Tigers last week after failing to agree terms. 

Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has signed for Japanese Top League side Shining Arcs.

Laidlaw, 34, retired from international duty after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and has ended his three-year association with Clermont Auvergne for a move to Japan.

The experienced scrum-half will team up with Australia flanker Liam Gill and Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi ahead of the 2021 season.

"At the Scotland Tests in Japan in 2016 and at the World Cup last year, I was able to experience the wonderful culture of Japan and meet wonderful fans," Laidlaw said in a Shining Arcs statement.

"Every time I have visited Japan, I was welcomed with a wonderful hospitality and I look forward to living in this country and becoming a member of Shining Arcs."

This year's Top League season was cancelled due to coronavirus and the 2021 campaign is not scheduled to begin until January.

Izack Rodda has joined Lyon just over a month after his Reds departure was confirmed.

Rugby Australia (RA) and the Reds released Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings from their contracts following a pay dispute in May.

Rodda, who has won 25 caps for Australia, refused to accept a reduced salary amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 23-year-old lock was on Wednesday confirmed as a Lyon player along with number eight Gillian Galan, who makes the move from Toulouse.

Mathieu Bastareaud has also joined the Top 14 side along with Colby Fainga'a, Joe Taufete'e and Leo Berdeu.

Lyon were second in the table when the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Montpellier have confirmed the signing of South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach on a three-year deal.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup winner was reported to be bound for France when he announced he would leave Northampton Saints at the end of this season back in January.

With the Premiership not resuming until August at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic and Reinach's contract expiring at the end of June, the 30-year-old has played his last game for Saints.

Montpellier on Friday announced that Reinach will showcase his talents in the Top 14.

"Cobus is a world champion, with outstanding athletic qualities," said Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa.

"He is very skilled, both in kicking and passing."

Reinach, who spent three years with Northampton, has been capped 14 times by the Springboks and made two appearances in their World Cup triumph in Japan last year.

The 2019-20 Top 14 season has been cancelled with no champions crowned or teams relegated, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) announced on Tuesday.

France's domestic professional rugby campaign, which has been on hiatus since March, has been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An LNR statement read: "Faced with the exceptional circumstances linked to COVID-19, on a proposal from the Bureau, and at the end of the consultation process carried out within the framework of the organisation set up in the context of the health crisis, the steering committee adopted the resolution providing for the permanent cessation of the professional championships of first division (Top 14) and second division (Pro D2)."

The Top 14 and Pro D2 will return for the 2020-21 campaign with the same teams after promotion and relegation was abandoned.

Qualification for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will be determined by the LNR once guidance is received from European Professional Club Rugby.

Bordeaux-Begles were first in the Top 14, eight points clear of Lyon. Stade Francais were last and in danger of dropping into the second division.

The LNR's steering committee will propose at an extraordinary general assembly on June 11 that a state-guaranteed loan be taken out in order to maintain payments assigned to clubs for the 2019-20 campaign.

While professional football has returned in Germany and will soon be back under way in England, Spain and Italy too, the LNR's decision falls in line with the cancellation of Ligue 1.

However, in that case, Paris Saint-Germain were awarded the title and Toulouse and Amiens were relegated to the second tier.

France full-back Anthony Bouthier has signed a two-year contract extension with Montpellier.

Bouthier joined Montpellier from Pro D2 outfit Vannes last year and continued his rapid rise by making his Test debut in the Six Nations opener against England in February.

The 27-year-old started all four matches in the competition before it was suspended with Les Bleus second in the table, behind England on points difference.

Montpellier on Monday announced they have rewarded the rapid Bouthier for an outstanding start to his time at the club.

Bouthier, now contracted until 2023, said: "I am very happy to extend my contract for two more seasons. Thank you to the staff and managers for trusting me.

"I feel great in this city and in the club. I made the choice to stay because it is the MHR which made me discover the highest level and which gives me confidence.

"It is also a club which plays the leading roles each year and which has ambitions to raise its first Brennus Shield [awarded to the French champions].

"Now I can't wait to get back to the field and the team-mates to have a great season, hoping to play in front of our supporters."

Former New Zealand full-back Ben Smith has denied speculation that he will rejoin the Highlanders.

Smith joined Top 14 side Pau after the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year, bringing an end to his illustrious All Blacks career.

There has been talk the 33-year-old could be on his way back to the Highlanders for the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.

However, Smith says he will be no more than a spectator when his former club resumes action after the Super Rugby season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He posted on Instagram: "Super Rugby Aotearoa looks like a great concept

"I'm looking forward to supporting the Highlanders and watching them give it a crack. I'm not sure where the speculation has come from but I won't be playing in this year's competition.

"I'm looking forward to getting alongside my club side in Green Island and getting back to grassroots where it all started."

The Super Rugby Aotearoa, featuring the Highlanders, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Crusaders, starts on June 13.

European rugby organisers are holding discussions over a revised structure for the 2020-21 season, while also outlining plans to complete the current campaign.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup schedules had to be halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no imminent return to action on the cards.

However, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is making "every effort" to make sure the knockout stages do eventually take place, subject to working within health guidelines and under consideration for the welfare of players.

A statement from the governing body revealed the hope is for the 2020 finals to take place on October 16 and 17.

As for next season, a possible change to the Champions Cup could see the competition grow from 20 to 24 teams, meaning eight each from the Pro14, English Premiership and Top 14 competitions.

Fixtures would be held over eight weekends instead of nine, though a new format will only apply on an "exceptional basis", according to a statement from EPCR.

"Ongoing discussions with EPCR's league and union shareholders regarding new formats have included the possibility of a 24-club Heineken Champions Cup with eight representatives from each of Europe's leading league competitions, played over eight weekends", the statement read.

"If adopted, any new format would apply to next season's tournament only on an exceptional basis.

"In the meantime, EPCR remains committed to making every effort to conclude the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season subject to official advice and with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community in mind.

"It is hoped that the 2020 finals could be staged on 16 and 17 October."

This season's Top 14 season was abandoned after the French government ruled there would be no sporting events staged until the beginning of September.

The Stade Velodrome in Marseille was due to host both European club rugby finals in May.

Racing 92 have announced the signings of Australia duo Kurtley Beale and Luke Jones

Utility back Beale will leave the Waratahs for a second spell in Europe, having played for Premiership side Wasps in the 2016-17 season.

Beale has won 92 caps for the Wallabies, so the 31-year-old will still be eligible to play for his country.

The playmaker has signed a two-year deal with Top 14 giants Racing and will move to Paris when the Super Rugby season, which has been suspended due to the coronavirus crisis, ends.

Waratahs captain Rob Simmons said of Beale's decision to move on: "That's huge news for us. We're going to miss him.

"A player like that, he's got great experience, he's done a lot for this club, he is the most capped Waratah in history, so to lose someone like that is huge and I suppose this next little bit in this competition, whatever does get off the ground, it will be a good chance for him to send us off."

Flanker Jones will also ply his trade in the French capital next year after spending the past two seasons with the Rebels.

The 29-year-old spent three years with Bordeaux Begles before returning to Melbourne last year.

Racing sporting director Yannick Nyanga said: "We've tried to mix youth and experience in positions where we haven't managed to pull through from our academy.

"We have two premium signings who will bring some experience and their ability."

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