Gareth Anscombe: ‘Wales are now genuine heavyweights. Warren’s one of the best’

15-12-2018

Cardiff Blues fly-half, who faces Saracens in the Champions Cup on Saturday, on Wales’ potentially defining 2019 and the social media abuse that rocked him after his move from New ZealandBeneath the seasonal mistletoe in Wales this Christmas there will be less frivolity than normal. With the nation’s rugby team third in the world rankings, this is no time for casual distractions. Forget the frankincense and myrrh: just imagine the golden glow in 2019 should wise old Warren Gatland deliver a Six Nations title and World Cup glory as parting gifts to his followers. Related: The end of an era: what next for All Blacks after Steve Hansen? Continue reading...



Martin Dubravka chooses his Newcastle United band-mates

15-12-2018

Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka grew up attending music school, but which of his teammates would he choose to form a team band?



'Humble and generous, but a private enigma' - who was Leicester City's owner?

15-12-2018

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is revered in Leicester as the man who presided over one of sport's great triumphs - but who was the billionaire Thai businessman?



David Squires on … the mistreatment of Raheem Sterling

15-12-2018

Our cartoonist on why it’s hard to exaggerate the vilification Raheem Sterling has been subjected to in recent yearsIf you like David’s cartoons, buy his book Goalless Draws Continue reading...



Pete Shelley's Tour de force, Miami's Miracle and Premier Passions | Classic YouTube

15-12-2018

This week’s roundup also features Paul Sherwen, NHL deflections and Dean Jones’s very bad idea1) It wasn’t always widely known, but Buzzcocks’ brilliant Pete Shelley, who died this past week, wrote the music for the iconic Channel 4 Tour de France theme, itself taken from within 1984 track Give It To Me. Another sad passing this week was Paul Sherwen. It’s well worth a listen to the Cycling Podcast’s tribute, while Sherwen recalls how he met his broadcasting partner Phil Liggett.2) The Miami Miracle! Obviously there’s already a Tecmo Super Bowl version out there. Gronk’s still stumbling. More laterals: here’s the Music City Miracle, which always features highly among some of the NFL’s most famous. There are more in college football, including … Miami (!) v Duke, Trinity v Millsaps and the classic: Cal v Stanford. Watch out for that band! More on The Play. Continue reading...



Nicolas Chauvin: Clubs to hold minute's silence for dead Stade Francais player

15-12-2018

Professional clubs across Europe will hold a minute's silence this weekend in tribute to Stade Francais youth player Nicolas Chauvin, who died aged 18.



Lisa Ashton goes to the oche and the nuns go wild at the PDC World Darts

15-12-2018

Ashton took the opening leg in style but her first visit to Alexandra Palace ended in defeatBy 6pm the fairground outside Ally Pally is just beginning to wind down, the ferris wheel has stopped going, the merry-go-round is slowing and there is a sign outside the grotto promising that Santa will be back again tomorrow. So, at that time of night, it’s little kids this way and big kids that, up the hill and on beyond the fair to the Great Hall for the opening night of the PDC World Championship. For a lot of people the trip is a winter tradition now, a little less solemn than the carol service at St Paul’s, a little less sobering than swimming in the Serpentine on Christmas morning.The Championship has junked one of its own old rituals. The walk-on girls are gone. The PDC chairman, Barry Hearn, says he was forced into it by the TV companies. “It’s out of my control,” he said. “We’re living in changing times – the PC brigade, the liberal brigade are out in strength.” Continue reading...



Jacqui Oatley: women's football is generations away from equality, but it's getting there – video

15-12-2018

Broadcaster Jacqui Oatley believes it will take 'a couple of generations' to make football a more equal environment, but that change can already been seen in the women's game. In a short film - part of series produced for Twitter UK as part of its support for Women in Football’s #WhatIf campaign - Oatley said she hopes 'the assumption of knowledge is there just the same [for female reporters, commentators and presenters] as it is when a male voice is delivering.'The 100 best female footballers in the world 2018 Continue reading...



Champions League: how far will the 16 teams go in the knockout stages?

15-12-2018

Will PSG finally make the last four? Will Liverpool win away from Anfield? Will Lyon win another game? By Ben McAleer and Josh Wright for WhoScoredAjax have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in 13 years and almost did so as group winners. The four-time European Cup winners were eight minutes away from beating Bayern Munich on Wednesday, only to then come from behind and secure a 3-3 draw. Ajax are one of only five teams unbeaten in the competition, after three wins and three draws. They have been particularly successful in turning over the ball high up the pitch and that could be important in the knockout stage; only Manchester City (43) won possession in the attacking third more times than Ajax (39). Continue reading...



From the Tavern to the Palace: the decade since darts went large – video

15-12-2018

It’s now more than a decade since the PDC world championship moved from the Circus Tavern in Purfleet to London’s Alexandra Palace and the game of darts has grown beyond all expectations. We talked to a number of the figures behind the growth of the game both in front and behind the cameras Continue reading...



The Breakdown | England’s dilemma: undermine Eddie Jones or risk scramble for a top coach

15-12-2018

Looking for a successor could be a distraction in World Cup year but waiting could mean the talent is snaffled up and Wales and Ireland have already made their moveThe start of the World Cup is nine months away but countries are already thinking about their next coach. Wales are sorted, appointing Wayne Pivac in the summer knowing Warren Gatland would be off after his side’s final match in Japan, as are Ireland, with Andy Farrell to take over from Joe Schmidt.In New Zealand, Steve Hansen is due to announce this evening UK time as to whether he will seek a new contract after the World Cup. Rassie Erasmus has told South Africa he will not be carrying on after Japan, focusing on his director of rugby role instead. Australia’s Michael Cheika may not last that long after taking part in a performance review this month after the Wallabies’ worst year, in terms of results, for 60 years. A decision is expected before Christmas. Continue reading...



'It's right for the team': Steve Hansen steps down as All Blacks coach – video

15-12-2018

After 14 years Steve Hansen has called time on coaching New Zealand. The 59-year-old announced that he will be stepping down after the World Cup in Japan next year, saying that it was time for 'a fresh pair of eyes'. The All Blacks have lost only eight of 96 Tests under Hansen, a win ratio of 89%.  Continue reading...



Canelo Álvarez awaits in Rocky Fielding's unlikely shot at glory

15-12-2018

Few will give the 31-year-old Liverpudlian a chance on Saturday when he climbs through the ropes at Madison Square Garden to face Canelo ÁlvarezWhen Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez announced the first opponent of his blockbuster 11-fight, $365m contract with upstart streaming service DAZN, the collective reaction from the general public was unanimous: Who?Few beyond dedicated boxing fans were familiar with Rocky Fielding, the lesser of the two super middleweight champions recognized by the World Boxing Association, the sanctioning body that hands out belts seemingly at will and has done more to cheapen the currency of a world title than any one factor (and it is a high bar). Continue reading...



Danny Cipriani: ‘It’s been the same story for six years, hasn’t it?’

15-12-2018

Fly-half remains philosophical about his England exile and is enjoying his new leadership role at GloucesterIf Danny Cipriani feels messed around by England he hides it well. You might expect confusion, resentment, even betrayal at how he again finds himself on the outside looking in after the briefest of comebacks over the summer but on a chilly afternoon in Gloucestershire there is nothing but positivity from the exiled fly-half.To recap, Cipriani made his first England start in 10 years in their first win in six matches in June but was discarded again for the autumn campaign. It followed his arrest in Jersey but Eddie Jones insisted his latest omission was based on form, all while Cipriani was tearing up trees with his new club, Gloucester. Continue reading...



José Mourinho: Manchester United are far from playing in my image

15-12-2018

• Manager says reasons run deeper than transfers• Trophies matter, Mourinho says, before game at LiverpoolJosé Mourinho believes Manchester United are a long way from playing in his image and has suggested structural issues at the club are to blame.United travel to Anfield on Sunday 16 points behind Jürgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders. Liverpool are viewed as a team in their manager’s image and Mourinho was asked whether the same could be said for him and United. Continue reading...



Mohamed Salah named BBC African Footballer of the Year 2018

15-12-2018

Egypt and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is voted the BBC African Footballer of the Year 2018.