Fernando Alonso making a "solid recovery" in hospital

Photo of Alonso recovering in hospital has been released

Photo of Alonso recovering in hospital has been released

Fernando Alonso is making a “solid recovery” following a heavy crash during testing on Sunday, McLaren have announced.

Alonso spent the night in hospital after his McLaren-Honda left the track and hit a wall side-on at turn three of the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.

The Spaniard remained conscious and able to speak to doctors after the incident, but he was concussed and airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks, including CT and MRI scans.

A McLaren statement on Monday read: "We are pleased to confirm that, having been involved in an on-track incident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Spain) on February 22nd, Fernando Alonso is making a solid recovery in hospital, and is chatting to family, friends and hospital staff."

It continued: "In order to provide the privacy and tranquillity required to facilitate a peaceful recuperation, he is being kept in hospital for further observation, and to recover from the effects of the medication that successfully managed his routine sedation yesterday.

"We intend to give him every opportunity to make a rapid and complete recovery, and will evaluate in due course whether or not he will participate in the next Barcelona test."

The final pre-season test takes place in Barcelona from February 26 to March 1.

McLaren have carried out tests on Alonso's car and insist the crash was not caused by mechanical failure.

"Our findings indicate that the accident was caused by the unpredictably gusty winds at that part of the circuit at that time, and which had affected other drivers similarly (eg, Carlos Sainz Jnr)," McLaren said.

"We can categorically state that there is no evidence that indicates that Fernando's car suffered mechanical failure of any kind."

The incident occurred on the final day of the Formula One pre-season test, with the new campaign due to begin in Australia on March 15.

Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad told the Spanish media he "doesn't think there will be any problems" with regard to the two-time world champion making the start line in Melbourne and he also denied reports that Alonso had been feeling dizzy prior to the crash.

"I deny that Fernando was feeling unwell prior to the incident," he said. "The car had grip, there was tremendous wind and he went into the wall, the rest is speculation.

"The car telemetry has stated that he was correcting from left to right. Fernando was hitting the brake and changing gears until the moment of impact."

France forward Pascal Pape has been suspended for 10 weeks

Pape gets lengthy ban for Heaslip incident

Pape gets lengthy ban for Heaslip incident

France forward Pascal Pape has been suspended for 10 weeks and will miss the rest of the RBS 6 Nations after he kneed Jamie Heaslip in the back during last Saturday’s game against Ireland.

Pape, who has a right of appeal, was cited under Law 10.4 (a) and appeared in front of a disciplinary panel together with France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Wednesday.

Referee Wayne Barnes issued Pape with a yellow card during the match but the disciplinary committee decided it was an act of foul play which merited a red card and "should be categorised at the top end of World Rugby's scale of seriousness".

Law 10.4 (a) forbids a player from punching or striking an opponent and Pape could have been banned for up to 15 weeks.

His punishment was, however, reduced given what the committee referred to as "the player's admission of foul play and his expression of remorse for what had occurred".

The lock issued an apology on Tuesday via social media to Heaslip, who damaged three vertebrae in the incident and will miss Ireland's next game against England.

@pascalpape thanks for your message. It's a physical game that we play and these things happen. I fully accept your apology.

— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) February 17, 2015

Pape's suspension represents a blow for France, who lost 18-11 in Dublin and are now third in the table after two matches played.

France forward Pascal Pape has been suspended for 10 weeks

Pape gets lengthy ban for Heaslip incident

Pape gets lengthy ban for Heaslip incident

France forward Pascal Pape has been suspended for 10 weeks and will miss the rest of the RBS 6 Nations after he kneed Jamie Heaslip in the back during last Saturday’s game against Ireland.

Pape, who has a right of appeal, was cited under Law 10.4 (a) and appeared in front of a disciplinary panel together with France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Wednesday.

Referee Wayne Barnes issued Pape with a yellow card during the match but the disciplinary committee decided it was an act of foul play which merited a red card and "should be categorised at the top end of World Rugby's scale of seriousness".

Law 10.4 (a) forbids a player from punching or striking an opponent and Pape could have been banned for up to 15 weeks.

His punishment was, however, reduced given what the committee referred to as "the player's admission of foul play and his expression of remorse for what had occurred".

The lock issued an apology on Tuesday via social media to Heaslip, who damaged three vertebrae in the incident and will miss Ireland's next game against England.

@pascalpape thanks for your message. It's a physical game that we play and these things happen. I fully accept your apology.

— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) February 17, 2015

Pape's suspension represents a blow for France, who lost 18-11 in Dublin and are now third in the table after two matches played.

WATCH – Darren Clarke on his Ryder Cup coronation

Clarke proud to be Europe's captain

Clarke proud to be Europe’s captain

New European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will put his much publicised dispute with outgoing skipper Paul McGinley to one side after he confirmed he consult his Irish colleague for advice ahead of the 2016 event at Hazeltine.

Even though Clarke has endured a turbulent relationship with McGinley in recent years, the latter showed he could ignore their spat as he was involved in the process that led to the selection of the next European captain.

Clarke, 46, who played in the Ryder Cup five times and was a vice-captain in 2010 and 2012, was unanimously chosen ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn by a five-man selection panel at Wentworth.

McGinley admitted last year his conversations with Clarke were now ''short and sweet" but Clarke will consult McGinley after the Dubliner's leadership at Gleneagles received widespread acclaim.

"It would be very foolish for me not to follow the same formula," Clarke said.

"With everything that came out of Gleneagles and the unbelievable job that Paul did there, I would be foolish not to speak to Paul and all the other captains before that.

"The team bonding and spirit they had at Gleneagles is obviously something I would love to replicate.

"I will try to pick off as much information as I can from all the previous captains. I think it would be very remiss of me if I didn't do that to try and pick out the bits that they thought worked best for the teams.

"At the end of the day it's not about me, it's about the players and to try and make sure the team has an enjoyable week, which is quite difficult in a stressful atmosphere that the Ryder Cup is. But if the guys are relaxed and enjoy themselves that always helps a little bit more.

"Certainly with the teams that I have been involved in, both as a player and vice-captain, that has been a huge factor.

"To be captain of the European Team is a huge honour that ranks up there with anything I've achieved in the professional game. It's right up at the very top."

McGinley reiterated that he would not act as vice-captain to Clarke, or anyone else, but added: "I will give him any support he needs. At the same time it's important I step away too.

"Darren's now at the front and let him go ahead. It's not necessarily about following me or following Jose or following Monty or anybody who has done it before and won. It's about doing what's best for him and how he sees it."

Clarke said he has a "few people in mind" for his vice-captains and indicated he was likely to copy McGinley and have five of them at Hazeltine, where he is set to come up against good friend Davis Love.

Love is set to be confirmed as United States captain next week and Clarke added: "If so that would be wonderful. We've played many practice rounds together and are very good friends. He is a gentleman and there isn't a nicer man in our sport."

Love was captain in 2012 when Europe produced the 'Miracle at Medinah' to recover from 10-4 down on Saturday afternoon and win by a single point.

Last year's win at Gleneagles made it three in succession and six of the last seven, something that Montgomerie believes will make Clarke's job all the harder.

Montgomerie told Sky Sports News: "It's an unenviable task; America want it back badly and he will have all our support. They do want revenge, they set up their task force and had their own internal wranglings about what they can do to win it back.

"We have selected a captain that I am convinced will retain the Ryder Cup and bring it home. I think he will be a very good communicator with the players individually, which is most important as a captain. He has the respect of the players."

The last of Clarke's five appearances as a player was an emotionally-charged affair at the K Club in 2006, when he somehow won all three of his matches just weeks after the death of his first wife Heather from cancer.

Peter O’Mahony signs new Munster deal

Peter O'Mahony commits to Munster

Peter O’Mahony commits to Munster

Flanker Peter O’Mahony is the latest Ireland star to reject a move to France after signing a new three-year contract with Munster.

The 25-year-old club captain has committed to Thomond Park until June 2018, in a clear boost to the Irish province and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt.

Toulouse and a host of French Top 14 clubs were understood to have monitored O'Mahony's situation, but the talismanic back-rower has opted instead to stick to his roots.

O'Mahony's new deal to stay with his home province is also a decisive strike from Munster, who had been left reeling after losing promising fly-half JJ Hanrahan to Northampton Saints for next season.

Leinster stars Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien rejected the lures of Toulon last season, with Munster scrum-half Conor Murray also turning his back on French interest.

British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton will return to Leinster from Racing Metro this summer – and now O'Mahony's new deal effectively secures all Ireland's frontline talent on home soil ahead of the World Cup.

Peter O’Mahony signs new Munster deal

Peter O'Mahony commits to Munster

Peter O’Mahony commits to Munster

Flanker Peter O’Mahony is the latest Ireland star to reject a move to France after signing a new three-year contract with Munster.

The 25-year-old club captain has committed to Thomond Park until June 2018, in a clear boost to the Irish province and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt.

Toulouse and a host of French Top 14 clubs were understood to have monitored O'Mahony's situation, but the talismanic back-rower has opted instead to stick to his roots.

O'Mahony's new deal to stay with his home province is also a decisive strike from Munster, who had been left reeling after losing promising fly-half JJ Hanrahan to Northampton Saints for next season.

Leinster stars Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien rejected the lures of Toulon last season, with Munster scrum-half Conor Murray also turning his back on French interest.

British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton will return to Leinster from Racing Metro this summer – and now O'Mahony's new deal effectively secures all Ireland's frontline talent on home soil ahead of the World Cup.

Jamie Heaslip accepts Pascal Pape’s apology

Jamie Heaslip injury is a blow for Ireland

Jamie Heaslip injury is a blow for Ireland

Jamie Heaslip has accepted Pascal Pape’s Twitter apology for the crude knee to the back that could end the Ireland number eight’s RBS 6 Nations campaign.

France lock Pape faces a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday where he could be banned for the remainder of the tournament after kneeing Heaslip in the back during Ireland's 18-11 victory in Dublin.

The 34-year-old Les Bleus star will discover his fate at a disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday, and put in an advance move to curry favour with the panel by apologising to Leinster's Heaslip on social media.

Heaslip suffered three fractured vertebrae in his back from the challenge that earned Pape a yellow card at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Pape tweeted: "Sincerely sorry to have injured @jamieheaslip in this action of the match, not at all my intention to do him any harm #objectivityforsome", on Tuesday night, just hours before his disciplinary hearing.

Heaslip responded with this message:

@pascalpape thanks for your message. It's a physical game that we play and these things happen. I fully accept your apology.

— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) February 17, 2015

Irrespective of whether the Stade Francais second-row's move was designed to edge the independent panel towards leniency in his hearing, Leinster's loose forward Heaslip accepted the apology wholeheartedly.

Heaslip replied by tweeting a message in France, which translates as: "@pascalpape thanks for your message. Rugby is a physical game and one accepts that can happen. I accept your apology completely".

Heaslip will be sidelined for the next month, already leaving him a doubt for Ireland's final Six Nations clash, in Scotland on March 21.

The influential 31-year-old will be a loss to Ireland's bid to retain their title, especially in the pivotal England clash in Dublin on March 1.

France boss Philippe Saint-Andre has already claimed Pape's challenge was an accident. Referee Wayne Barnes ruled the contact deliberate, but only awarded a yellow card.

The Six Nations' independent citing team deemed Pape still has a case to answer though, and if found guilty he could miss the rest of the competition.