Warren Gatland ensures Wales leave nothing to chance against England | Ben Ryan

21-02-2019 The head coach’s inside knowledge means a greater insight into what to expect in the crucial Six Nations encounterWhen you have already coached the world-class talent in the team you are playing against at the weekend, it’s fair to say it won’t do you any harm. Information gleaned from reams of video or the brains of performance analysts will give you a pretty good picture. However, the experiences you have gone through and the intimate knowledge of the opposition’s key figures turns all that into 4K resolution.Warren Gatland will have felt his vision is particularly sharp this week. On Saturday, two great rivals go toe-to-toe in what is certainly the biggest matchup between the two since the pool game at the World Cup in 2015. The plan for Wales going into the 80 minutes in Cardiff will be as clear and concise as Warren Gatland has ever produced. From his time with the British and Irish Lions Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes and more will be known to Gatland way beyond any match analysis. He knows how they play, what makes them tick and what they are capable of. Continue reading...

Alysa Liu's remarkable rise: is 13 too young to be an elite athlete?

21-02-2019 The figure skater is barely into her teens and is already the US champion. But some believe the mental and physical strain of elite sport should waitAlysa Liu covered her face and cried as the results were announced at the US ladies figure skating championship in Detroit, Michigan, last month. Her coach, Laura Lipetsky who has worked with her since she was five, hugged her.Liu had just won the national title at the age of 13, making her the youngest athlete to have done so, and with two triple axels no less. The weeks since have been a media frenzy. She appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and profiles on her meteoric rise have been published across the world. But for all the attention Liu has received, she won’t be able to compete in Worlds. She’s too young. A 1997 International Skating Union rule requires athletes to be at least 15 by 1 July preceding the season to participate in senior-level international events. Continue reading...

The NFL's Kaepernick settlement should just be the start of making amends | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

21-02-2019 Hopefully the league can now support the values of the US constitution rather than pandering to those who mistake parochialism for patriotismIn one of my favorite sports movies, Vision Quest, the varsity wrestling coach tells his students they can challenge the best wrestler in any weight class if they want to take his place.“Fairest thing in the world,” he smugly tells them. As soon as one kid raises his hand to make that challenge, the coach quickly dismisses the team, pulls him aside, and says: “You’re out of your mind!” Continue reading...

Fifty seconds for a one-foot putt: Is slow play killing golf?

21-02-2019 JB Holmes frustrated fans and fellow pros with a five-and-a-half hour round on Sunday. Many believe slow play is affecting the growth of the gameThe video says it all: as JB Holmes paced a 15-foot putt at the Genesis Open, he checked his yardage book thoroughly, presumably looking over notes that he had taken during a practice round. Then he plum bobbed with his putter, stepped away and plum bobbed again, stared down the line of the putt as if he were hunting prey, stood over the ball, then finally hit a shot. Which he missed. It got worse: he then took 50 seconds to hole the one-footer that remained, an age for something even amateurs would consider a tap-in.Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/ZUrqTMb6M3 Continue reading...

'The whole village is united': Warnock attends Emiliano Sala's funeral – video

21-02-2019 The Cardiff City manager, Neil Warnock, has attended the funeral of Emiliano Sala in the town of Progreso, Argentina. Sala was killed when the aircraft he was flying in crashed on 21 January, en route to Cardiff from Nantes, the player having signed with the Premier League club days earlier Continue reading...

Maurizio Sarri says Chelsea struggles are not down to his tactics

21-02-2019 • Sarri has not spoken to Abramovich or Granovskaia this week• Manager sees ‘problem of determination in both boxes’Maurizio Sarri has had no contact with the Chelsea hierarchy this week and has claimed the ferocious debate around his preferred tactical approach is “a false problem” as he desperately clings to his position at Stamford Bridge. Related: Is defending making a comeback after the gung-ho attacking years? Continue reading...

Manchester City hail purchase of Chinese club as ‘exciting new chapter’

21-02-2019 • Sichuan Jiuniu FC are the seventh club to be part of CFG• Ferran Soriano says China is an ‘extremely important market’Manchester City’s parent company has announced the joint-purchase of a seventh club, Sichuan Jiuniu FC, who play in China’s third tier.City Football Group (CFG) have bought the Chengdu side together with China Sports Capital and Ubtech. It is the next step in CFG’s involvement in China, having previously opened offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Continue reading...

Giménez and Godín put Atlético Madrid in charge against Juventus

21-02-2019 For Atlético Madrid it was the perfect finale and it left them dreaming of the perfect final. Two late goals from their two Uruguayan centre-backs, first José Maria Giménez and then Diego Godín, sent a gigantic roar round this stadium, the kind of noise this place has never heard before. The Wanda Metropolitano, Atlético’s home for just over a year, will host the 2019 Champions League final and, as they sang long and loud, they did so in the hope that their team will be there too, invited to the party they host. Related: Raheem Sterling gives Manchester City crucial advantage over Schalke Continue reading...

Is Tottenham's run of 30 league games without a draw a record? | The Knowledge

21-02-2019 Plus: Old Trafford’s mysterious semi-final snub, back-to-back penalty misses and unused subs. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Tottenham have currently played 30 consecutive Premier League games without drawing one,” notes Wouter van Dael. “What is the longest ever such league run?”The short answer is that Spurs are Premier League record-breakers, Wouter, but only just. “Bolton previously held this title with a run of 28 games between March and December 2011,” writes James Clarke. “But in the wider context of English league history, Spurs have a long way to go yet. Twenty-nine clubs have had longer streaks without a draw at some point – and seven have gone more than 40 consecutive league games without a stalemate: Birmingham (43 games), Walsall (44), Leicester (44), Bradford Park Avenue (44), Stoke (46), Sunderland (46) and Aston Villa (51). Although it is probably worth noting that Sunderland’s is the most recent of these, coming comparatively recently in 1908-09. The slightly interesting quirk here is that five of these seven draw-less clubs are midlands teams.Season 2017-1830 Apr Spurs 2-0 Watford5 May West Brom 1-0 Spurs9 May Spurs 1-0 Newcastle13 May Spurs 5-4 Leicester Continue reading...

World sport: 10 photos we liked this week - 22-28 October

21-02-2019 A selection of the most striking sports photographs from around the world this week.

AFLX coin toss to be replaced by rock, paper, scissors

21-02-2019 Latest innovation seeks to encourage on-pitch ‘banter’Much-criticised pre-season event takes place on FridayThe much-maligned AFLX competition, which takes place on Friday in Melbourne, will employ a game of rock, paper, scissors instead of the more traditional coin toss to determine the direction teams kick at Marvel Stadium.The latest innovation is an attempt at maintaining the focus on entertainment at the pre-season event by creating “banter” on the pitch, with teammates of the four captains encouraged to hang around the staging of the game and engage in ribbing the opposition. Continue reading...

Why the future of the World Club Challenge must be secured

21-02-2019 Sunday night was a big success. The Super League and NRL should be working together to ensure this contest lives on By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredAnyone doubting the status of the World Club Challenge should have seen the evidence in Wigan on Sunday evening. Giant flags, a serious burst of fireworks, and the NRL and Super League trophies greeted the players as they walked out at the DW Stadium. Amid all the ceremony, it felt as if there were more people on the pitch before kick-off than have been in the stands at some League One games this season. Wigan’s hotels were full and there were even half-and-half scarves for sale outside, for goodness’ sake.Yet after an interminable wait to collect their medals from Martin Offiah – looking like Cluedo’s Reverend Green in an extraordinary outfit - the victorious Roosters players seemed faintly embarrassed to be on stage after a ‘trial game’, looking at the strategically-placed bottles as if to say, “Champers, after that - really?”. But their achievement sunk in and they were still in their dressing room celebrating 80 minutes after the final hooter. Continue reading...

Laurina shows Champion Hurdle potential after flu jab cuts short training

21-02-2019 • Willie Mullins’ mare now 7-2 shot for Cheltenham race• Trainer to send around 40 runners to meeting next month“Job done,” declared Willie Mullins after watching Laurina score a bloodless success here that set her up for what still seems an ambitious tilt at the Champion Hurdle, for all that she is third-favourite for the Cheltenham contest.The Carlow trainer used this same prep-race to ready Annie Power on her way to Champion Hurdle glory three years ago and the question now is whether Laurina can follow up against the top-class pair Buveur D’Air and Apple’s Jade. Continue reading...

Kilmarnock’s Steve Clarke furious after sectarian abuse at Ibrox

21-02-2019 • Kilmarnock manager says Rangers support ‘in the dark ages’• Clarke also savages referee over red card in 5-0 defeatA furious Steve Clarke accused the Rangers support of living in the dark ages after being targeted with sectarian abuse during his Kilmarnock side’s Scottish Cup pummelling by Rangers.Chants of “sad Fenian bastard” echoed round Ibrox as the home side booked a quarter-final against Aberdeen with a 5-0 win. Alfredo Morelos struck four times on his return from suspension but Killie’s hopes were over as soon as the goalkeeper, Daniel Bachmann, was dismissed for an off-the-ball clash with Glen Kamara. Continue reading...

The Fiver | Staring us in the face, in plain sight, giving us the big do-you-want-some

21-02-2019 Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!Yesterday evening, Barcelona took 25 shots against Lyon but none of them went in, so they drew for the fourth time in five matches. At Anfield, Naby Keïta had a pass completion rate of 74%. But apart from those two examples of things that are brimful of pretty attacking promise but aren’t quite clicking at the moment, there was very little to talk about in Big Cup. The needle on the Fiver’s patented Entertainmentometer™© got stuck halfway between Mildly Diverting But Only Because There’s Nothing On Any Of The Other Channels and Intriguing But Only Because You’re Trying Way Too Hard. Bah. As a banner displayed in the Bayern end and applauded by the Liverpool fans noted, you had to pay £48 for a ticket to watch this stuff. One day a real rain will come. Continue reading...

Bury’s Ryan Lowe: ‘Jürgen Klopp complimented me on my style and system’

21-02-2019 Manager has made his club one of the Football League’s most free-scoring sides – and a visit to Guardiola is in the diaryIf you were asked to guess the highest-scoring teams in the top four divisions, you would pick Manchester City straight away. Norwich would not take too long. A bit of thinking would lead you to Luton. But a team you might not get but are right up there with the most prolific in the land are Bury.The Shakers are the entertainers of League Two, with 85 goals in all competitions this season, playing with a gung-ho style that looks good fun but is probably not a relaxing watch for their supporters. Continue reading...

High school under scrutiny after cheerleaders given 'Big Boobie' and 'Big Booty' awards

21-02-2019 Awards given out at ceremony attended by parents and coachesCoach in charge is still working at Wisconsin high school A cheerleading coach at a Wisconsin high school defended prizes given to her students that included the “Big Boobie Award” and the “Big Bootie Award”. The awards were given out at a banquet attended by more than 100 people, including parents at the school, according to the New York Times.At least four adults at the ceremony complained to Tremper High School about the awards, including parents and the school’s former track coach, Patti Hupp. “I feel that I need to tell you this for the protection of these girls,” Hupp wrote in an email to the school’s principal, adding it was easy to see “that this is extremely degrading to women.” When the Big Boobie award was handed out, the coach giving the prize said the girl in question risked concussion when she ran due to her “enormous boobs”. Continue reading...

Joe Marler has no regrets over England absence despite pull of Wales tussle

21-02-2019 • Prop has had no call from Eddie Jones despite Vunipola injury• Marler happy out of England fray but Wales is ‘incredible’ gameJoe Marler has admitted he would love to be playing for England against Wales on Saturday but insists he has no regrets over his international retirement despite Mako Vunipola’s injury-enforced absence.England head to Cardiff light on experience at loosehead prop after Vunipola was ruled out for the rest of the Six Nations with an ankle injury, leaving Eddie Jones to choose between Ben Moon and Ellis Genge, who have five Test starts between them. Marler revealed Jones has not been in contact about coming out of retirement and, while he did not completely close the door on doing so in the future, he said adding to his 59 England caps was “highly unlikely”. He did concede that England versus Wales was his favourite fixture to play in because of the hostility of the Welsh supporters. Continue reading...