Punters fear Cheltenham Festival will fall victim to coronavirus outbreak

BHA sets up steering group on outbreak’s threat to sportThe official position is that nothing has changed, yetGamblers believe the Cheltenham Festival is at serious risk of being postponed or abandoned as fear of the spread of coronavirus begins to seep into the world of British horse racing. A betting market opened online by Betfair this week offers punters the chance to bet on whether the highlight of the jumps racing season will go ahead on 10 March, with ‘No’ trading at 3-1 on Wednesday morning, albeit after just £20,000 had been traded.That means punters believe there is a more obvious chance of the Festival’s first day being postponed than of the Champion Hurdle being won by the favourite, Epatante, a 7-2 shot. Racing’s leaders, however, take a cooler view of the risk presented by the virus; as at Wednesday morning, the only decision taken specifically because of the threat was to establish a coronavirus steering group including representatives of the British Horseracing Authority, racecourses and horsemen. Continue reading…

Invincible Zidane faces ‘hour of truth’ against his old friend Guardiola

Real Madrid’s manager has never lost a Champions League knockout tie but Manchester City’s rarely loses at the Bernabéu “I’m not going to tell you what he told me,” Zinedine Zidane said smiling broadly, a glint in his eye, “but it was very, very interesting.” Whatever it was, it worked. In March 2015, when the Real Madrid manager was still doing his Uefa B licence and coaching Castilla, the club’s second team, he travelled to Munich with a small group of former players finding their way in management, among them his former France teammates Claude Makélélé, Willy Sagnol and the former Liverpool winger Bernard Diomède. There, they spent two days with Pep Guardiola. Related: Real Madrid and ban give Pep Guardiola highest-stakes test yet Continue reading…

Bayern defeat was a ‘harsh lesson’, admits Chelsea’s Frank Lampard

There’s a lot of work to be done, says managerTells team to play for pride in second leg in MunichFrank Lampard admitted that Chelsea are a long way from challenging the elite after Bayern Munich all but secured a place in the last eight of the Champions League with a brutal 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.Bayern destroyed Chelsea in the first leg of their last-16 tie, two goals from Serge Gnabry and one from Robert Lewandowski sealing an emphatic win for the German champions, and Lampard accepted that his inexperienced side are unlikely to be playing for anything but pride when they travel to the Allianz Arena for the second leg on 18 March. Continue reading…

Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola hopes Real Madrid tie is ‘fair for both sides’

Manager says City are due change of Champions League luckGuardiola recalls key moments against Spurs and LiverpoolPep Guardiola believes that Manchester City are due a change in their Champions League luck as he prepares for the first leg of the last-16 tie at Real Madrid on Wednesday night.The manager was not bemoaning the two-year ban from Europe that the club have received for financial irregularities; rather a perceived misfortune in terms of near misses and refereeing decisions in recent seasons. Continue reading…

Ireland v Italy should be postponed due to coronavirus, says health minister

Simon Harris says Six Nations game is significant risk ‘People will be travelling from an affected region’The Six Nations fixture between Ireland and Italy in Dublin on 7 March should not take place due to the risk posed by the coronavirus, the health minister of Ireland has said.China has reported 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths following the outbreak of the virus that has spread to a variety of countries including Italy, where authorities have swiftly put in restrictions. As a result, the department of health in Ireland’s national public health emergency team recommended the game should be postponed following a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Continue reading…

Andy Murray may miss Wimbledon and Olympics as hip issue lingers

Former world No 1 may need further hip surgery‘I have become quite pessimistic about time frames’Andy Murray admits his career is still hanging by a thread, as he contemplates either returning to the Tour in Miami next month or having another operation to clear up worrying complications around his repaired right hip.Surgery, however minor, could rule him out of Wimbledon and the Olympics, and might even convince him to retire after 15 years on the Tour. He sounded alternately upbeat and pessimistic in a long conversation on Tuesday night, and said: “I do want to keep playing. Whether I’m able to or not is the question.” Continue reading…

Bayern Munich and Gnabry drive Chelsea towards Champions League exit

This time Bayern Munich finished with the authority of a side with no interest in letting Chelsea off the hook again. The gulf in class was enormous from beginning to end and, for Chelsea, it is unlikely to feel like anything more than a sightseeing exercise when they return to the scene of their greatest triumph for the second leg on 18 March. The tie is surely done.Bayern, their place in the last eight of the Champions League all but secured after a devastating second-half display, acted like they were on a mission to erase the memories of their inexplicable defeat to Chelsea in the 2012 final. Two goals from Serge Gnabry and another for Robert Lewandowski sealed victory for the Bundesliga pacesetters, who played the dying stages against 10 men after Frank Lampard’s side lost Marcos Alonso to a late red card. Continue reading…

Chelsea v Bayern Munich: Champions League last 16 – live!

First-leg updates from Stamford BridgeLive scores | Napoli v Barcelona – live!Send your thoughts to Scott by email here 9.09pm GMTBayern suddenly burst forward en masse. Gnabry plays a cute ball round the corner to release Lewandowski into the box on the left. He shapes to shoot from an angle, but then snaps a low pass across the face of goal for Gnabry, who has kept running and slams the ball home. What a lovely goal. What a costly 60 seconds for Chelsea. 9.08pm GMT50 min: Coman concedes a garden variety foul in the midfield on Kovacic. Jorginho is livid, for some reason, and gets right up in the referee’s grille. He’s booked for stupidity, and will miss the second leg. Coman also goes in the book. Continue reading…

Napoli v Barcelona: Champions League last 16 – live!

Updates from the first leg at the Stadio San PaoloLive scores | Chelsea v Bayern Munich – live!Email Simon here or tweet @Simon_Burnton 9.10pm GMT49 mins: Busquets is booked for fouling Mertens. It’s an honest challenge, but Mertens kicks the bottom of his boot, falls to the floor and writhes around in agony. Barely a foul in my opinion, though on BT Sport Ian Darke suggests the Spaniard is lucky to stay on the p itch. Busquets will miss the second leg as a result (Nelson Semedo is the only other Barcelona player a booking away from suspension). 9.07pm GMT48 mins: Action has resumed in familiar vein, with Barcelona keeping the ball and Napoli keeping their shape. The only obvious change is that Messi isn’t dropping anywhere in search of the ball, staying up front with Griezmann and hoping someone else can bring it to them. They can’t. Continue reading…

Team GB cyclists need to show Olympic form at world championships

World championships start in Berlin with all eyes on Jason and Laura Kenny five months before Tokyo 2020The final world championships before the Olympic Games is the point when reality, good or bad, hits home for Britain’s track cyclists, and the withdrawal of the governing body’s main sponsor HSBC the day before the world championships began is a bigger reality check than most. The pressure is always felt in the final major event before the climax of the Olympic cycle – it has been that way all through British cycling’s lottery‑funded glory years – but this week in Berlin it will be just that little bit more acute.The Olympic runes will be acutely read as per usual, but the waters will be muddied because in the past four years the pool of nations competing at the highest level appears to have widened, times have plummeted in the two team pursuits, while from a British perspective the medal bankers such as the men’s and women’s team pursuit quartets have not been at their level of previous years. Continue reading…

Real Madrid and ban give Pep Guardiola highest-stakes test yet

Manchester City coach has long known Champions League record must improve – Uefa ban gives that quest fresh urgencyPep Guardiola has history with Real Madrid and, at times, it has been possible to detect the personal edge. As a proud son of Catalonia the Manchester City manager is a supporter of the region’s independence movement, which has put him at odds with the Castilians of Real.As a Barcelona player and then manager Guardiola fought numerous battles with Real, and his numbers in the latter capacity have come into focus as he prepares to lead City at the Bernabéu in the Champions League last‑16 first leg on Wednesday night. Continue reading…

Racewalkers’ long march for equality deserves recognition at Tokyo 2020

The 50km walk may be unglamorous and a little absurd but seven female athletes’ legal fight with the IOC is worth backingTo Lausanne then, home of the International Olympic Committee, and the source last week of an exciting press release about the latest developments in its “global licencing strategy”. The IOC has teamed up with the toy manufacturer Mattel, which has designed a set of Olympic-themed Barbie dolls. “The collaboration with Mattel is a great way to engage with an important audience, our younger fans and their families, and through these high-quality products to connect them with the Olympic brand and values” sayzzzzz, sorry, says Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC television and marketing servicezzzzz. The new line is designed to highlight the IOC’s spirit of “inclusivity and innovation”.“Innovation” because Barbie is taking part in the hip new sports the Olympics has brought in – “How do you do fellow kids?” – to win over a younger audience. So we have skateboarding Barbie, surfing Barbie, sports climbing Barbie, and kick-ass karate Barbie – more power to her pink plastic elbow. “Inclusivity” because … actually, on that, one second. There is one thing that Barbie definitely won’t be doing this summer, even though you’d think her stiff limbs might make her a natural at it – the 50km racewalk. Continue reading…

David Squires on … You are the VAR

Our cartoonist channels Paul Trevillion and takes you behind the walls of Stockley Park to experience life as a video assistant refereeBuy a copy of this cartoon in our print shopTake a look through David’s archive of cartoonContinue reading…

Wales wing Josh Adams to miss rest of Six Nations with ankle injury

Player needs surgery on injury sustained in loss to FranceWRU statement says he ‘could return in 12 weeks’The prolific Wales wing Josh Adams has been ruled out of his side’s remaining Six Nations games against England and Scotland after suffering an ankle injury against France on Saturday. Related: England’s hybrids point way towards one-size-fits-all – and they will be huge | Robert Kitson Continue reading…

The Spin’s 2030 predictions: England win European Cup after passport farce

A decade after his predictions for 2020, Vic Marks looks at what might happen 10 years from now, including why Jimmy Anderson is unhappy with the vegan Duke ballsSir Andrew Strauss, chairman of the England Cricket Board, has delivered his annual report. He began by congratulating the England captain, Ollie Pope, on the team’s successful defence of the Ashes in Australia. The series finished level at 2-2 with the Sydney Test drawn. The outcome of each match was still in doubt at tea on the fifth day. The reversion to five-day Test cricket, which coincided with Colin Graves’s departure as chairman of the International Cricket Council, was deemed a success among the four countries still committed to playing Test cricket on a regular basis.Strauss expressed his gratitude to Pope and his red-ball coaching staff led by Richard Dawson, the former England off-spinner and Gloucestershire coach. He also highlighted the success of the one-day side, now overseen by Eoin Morgan, in the inaugural six-nation European Cup. England won the grand slam but he acknowledged there had been one or two well-publicised blips along the way and he thanked the minister for culture, media and sport, Edward Smith, for his assistance. Continue reading…

England’s hybrids point way towards one-size-fits-all – and they will be huge | Robert Kitson

For decades coaches spoke about up-skilling players so shirt numbers don’t matter. It’s happening now in the Six NationsThere are plenty of visions of the future around at the moment. One has three initials – CVC – and is entwining itself, triffid-like, around the commercial rights of almost every significant rugby competition worldwide. Another is the standing water on numerous pitches in England and Wales, a portent of what may await lower-lying communities everywhere should global warming intensify.On Sunday at Twickenham it was more a case of joining the dots. There was George Kruis, a lock, aiming to kick the ball out of hand like a taller, gangly version of Owen Farrell. Charlie Ewels, another lock, could be seen packing down at No 8. Ewels’s Bath teammate, Jonathan Joseph, was on the wing, having played virtually all his previous top-level rugby at centre. Rugby’s much-discussed hybrid era, all of a sudden, was front and centre and hard to miss. Continue reading…

Deontay Wilder blames knockout loss to Tyson Fury on heavy ring-walk costume

Wilder: ‘I didn’t have the legs because of my uniform’34-year-old plans to trigger clause for second rematchDeontay Wilder has said the elaborate outfit he wore on his ring walk weighed 40 pounds and was the key reason for his defeat to Tyson Fury. The beaten former champion added that he plans to trigger a clause in his contract for a second rematch.Wilder said the outfit, worn to represent Black History Month, weighed him down so much that he didn’t have the legs to withstand Fury’s early assault in their Las Vegas heavyweight title fight on Saturday. Continue reading…

‘The numbers are incredible,’ says Klopp after record-equalling West Ham win

Liverpool’s 21st consecutive home win equals English record‘We all know that it is very special,’ says manager KloppJürgen Klopp hailed Liverpool’s record-breaking campaign as “special” and “incredible” after the unbeaten Premier League leaders took another step towards the title with a 3-2 comeback victory over West Ham.Liverpool restored their lead at the summit to a remarkable 22 points courtesy of Sadio Mané’s late winner and despite trailing to Pablo Fornals’ second-half goal for David Moyes’ struggling side. It was a 21st consecutive home league win for Liverpool –equalling the all-time English record set by their predecessors in 1972 and setting a new Premier League record – and an 18th successive league win that equalled the top-flight record set by Manchester City. Continue reading…

The Guardian’s Marina Hyde wins two SJA awards in landmark achievement

Hyde is first woman to win SJA sports writer of the yearBarney Ronay is named best football journalistThe Guardian’s Marina Hyde has won two SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, becoming the first woman to be named sports writer of the year in the awards’ 43-year history.Hyde also won sports columnist of the year, with her Guardian colleague, Jonathan Liew, collecting the silver award. Barney Ronay was also a winner at Monday’s ceremony, as he was named football journalist of the year. Continue reading…

UK Athletics ‘must become more transparent,’ says Toni Minichiello

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s coach ‘shocked’ over Mo Farah injectionsMinichiello: ‘Opportunity for UKA to regain trust of the sport’UK Athletics has been warned it must become more transparent after it was revealed senior figures privately expressed concerns before Mo Farah was given injections of a controversial supplement in 2014.Emails obtained by Panorama show Neil Black, then the performance director of UK Athletics, debated whether injecting Farah with L-carnitine to boost his performance at the 2014 London marathon violated “the spirit of sport”. Continue reading…

Sadio Mané brings title closer for Liverpool after West Ham scare

History was made at Anfield as Liverpool established a Premier League record of 21 consecutive home wins and equalled Manchester City’s run of 18 successive top flight victories. The landmark was created with great difficulty and greater belief. West Ham surpassed expectations in making Jürgen Klopp’s leaders look vulnerable but, like every other domestic visitor this season, they departed Anfield in the knowledge their best was not enough.Liverpool moved to within 12 points of the slice of history that matters most – their first league title for 30 years – thanks to many of the characteristics that have come to define their remarkable campaign. Continue reading…

Tearful Michael Jordan pays tribute to ‘brother’ Kobe Bryant at memorial service

NBA star and eight others, including daughter, killed in crashVanessa Bryant gives powerful eulogy to familyThousands of fans pack into Staples Center in LAFriends, family and fellow athletes have paid tribute to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his daughter Gianna, at a memorial service in Los Angeles.The ceremony took place at a packed Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, the team Bryant was a part of for his entire 20-year NBA career. Bryant and the other victims were killed in January when their helicopter crashed into a California hillside in foggy conditions. Continue reading…

Anthony Joshua would be underdog against Tyson Fury, says Eddie Hearn

Promoter says ‘we’d be clowns’ if camps failed to strike deal‘Everybody wants this fight … I promise you it will happen’Eddie Hearn has said “we’d be clowns” if he failed to agree a deal for Anthony Joshua to fight Tyson Fury, adding that his camp relish the prospect of their fighter going in as the underdog.Since Fury’s seventh-round stoppage win against Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday, which ended when the beaten WBC heavyweight champion’s corner threw in the towel, clamour has inevitably grown for an all‑British unification fight with Joshua, who holds the WBO, IBO, WBA and IBF belts. Continue reading…

Liverpool v West Ham: Premier League – live!

Updates from the 8pm GMT kick-off at AnfieldDavid Conn: how FFP helped restore LiverpoolEmail Michael here or tweet @michaelbutler18 8.49pm GMTHalf-time reading: Related: How Real Sociedad thrashed a third-division team 8-0 but won their hearts | Sid Lowe Related: Divock Origi leads Liverpool feast to raise pressure on Everton’s Silva 8.48pm GMTLiverpool concede their first goal at home since 4 December, a 5-2 win over Everton. Continue reading…

Ireland’s backline were ‘spooked’ by England’s effort and attitude | Nick Evans

Home side consistently doubled up on Ireland’s attackers and when it comes to executing a territorial game Eddie Jones’s side are the best in the worldThere was plenty to admire in England’s performance against Ireland but the most impressive aspect was that they looked back to their destructive and dominant best in defence. Manu Tuilagi gives them such a launchpad in attack and he gets them over the gain-line, but it was a victory based on their outstanding effort in defence.First, their decision-making at the breakdown was excellent. Very rarely were they competing at the wrong times and as a result they always seemed to have numbers on their feet. Continue reading…

Jos Buttler eager to ‘repay some faith’ after Test struggles for England

Wicketkeeper admits he underperformed this winter in TestsButtler downplays fatigue as reason before Sri Lanka tourJos Buttler is determined to repay the faith shown in him as a Test cricketer after admitting he is past the age where he can be picked on potential alone.Aged 30, with 41 caps and having been England’s first-choice wicketkeeper since the end of last summer, Buttler was retained by the selectors for next month’s tour of Sri Lanka during a winter averaging 17 with the bat. Continue reading…

England in talks with Six Nations as coronavirus puts Italy games in doubt

England’s finale is scheduled for Rome on 14 MarchItaly’s trip to Dublin on 7 March already under threatThe Rugby Football Union is in talks with Six Nations organisers amid concerns England’s push for the title could be affected – and the remainder of the competition thrown into chaos – by the spread of the coronavirus in Italy.England are due to face Italy in Rome on 14 March on the final day of the Six Nations but there are already doubts over Italy’s match against Ireland in Dublin a week earlier. The Irish health minister said on Monday that the fixture needs “considerable consideration”. Continue reading…

Daley Thompson: ‘I’d love to help British athletes. I’d be over the moon’

Great Britain’s two-time Olympic decathlon gold medallist has plenty of strings to his bow but he has only ever coached two athletes, neither from his own country and both world champions“Not a smidgeon,” Daley Thompson exclaims when asked if he ever felt any doubt while becoming arguably the greatest British athlete in history. Thompson was unbeaten in the decathlon for nine years, from 1978 to 1987, winning two Olympic gold medals, and at the age of 61 he still holds the British record. His 8,847 points, set in 1984, is a marker of Thompson’s brilliance and a measure of how far British men in the decathlon trail in his wake.Sitting in his gym in Putney, looking amused, Thompson reiterates his belief which meant he also played professional football for Mansfield Town. “There was never a smidgeon of doubt. When I did my first decathlon I knew I was going to be good.” Continue reading…

Leaked reports show Mo Farah changed account to US anti-doping investigators

Farah repeatedly denied having L-carnitine injection to UsadaAthlete insists he clarified quickly after realising his errorPanorama probes links between UKA and Alberto SalazarMo Farah is facing fresh questions over his relationship with banned coach Alberto Salazar after it emerged that he repeatedly denied to US anti-doping investigators that he was given injections of a controversial supplement – only to change his account.The BBC’s Panorama says that Farah was injected four times with L-carnitine two days before before the 2014 London marathon by UK Athletics chief medical officer at the time, Dr Rob Chakraverty – with UKA head of distance running Barry Fudge, former UKA performance director Neil Black and Alberto Salazar also present. Continue reading…

Six Nations: talking points from a thrilling third round

Italy will surely improve by trying to play positive, entertaining rugby while Stuart Hogg showcases his talent for ScotlandItaly have failed to score a point in two out of three Six Nations matches so far. While that is the dismal reality for the coach Franco Smith and his players to reflect on before their trip to Ireland in a couple of weeks, it would be wrong to write off this talented group. The Azzurri are trying to play positive, entertaining rugby and players such as the back-row Jake Polledri, the wings Matteo Minozzi and Mattia Bellini and the fly-half Tommaso Allan have had their moments, especially in Paris, while Scotland were forced to scrap for success in Rome on Saturday. Italy must improve their defensive discipline and get the scoreboard moving at the other end. Easier said than done? Of course, but they are not a million miles away. Luke McLaughlin Continue reading…

Bullish Manu Tuilagi leads charge for England with a lot left in the tank

The centre’s barnstorming performance helps soften up Ireland as Eddie Jones’s ornery, outsize team give a glimpse of what they are capable of at their bestIt had been six months to the very day since England last played at Twickenham, in a World Cup warm-up against Ireland, and that was a handsome victory too, even prettier than this one. Since then, they’ve been halfway around the world and back again, one step away from the top of it, too, when they lost to South Africa in the final.They’ve clocked up a lot of miles, a fair few wins and those two telling defeats, the one in Yokohama and the other in Paris, since. And now they were back. In more ways than one, since they were playing something like the way they did last autumn when they won those two matches against Australia and New Zealand. Continue reading…

Australia v Sri Lanka: Women’s Twenty20 World Cup – live!

Updates from the hosts’ crucial second outing in PerthAny thoughts? Email or tweet @collinsadam 8.51am GMTAUSTRALIA 10-3! AUSTRALIA 10-3! Mooney dances at Siriwardene and misses, Sanjeewani does the rest behind the stumps with an assured take. Blimey! 8.49am GMT3rd over: Australia 10-2 (Mooney 6, Lanning 2) Lanning off the mark from the one ball she has to deal with. Is there something special going on here? Continue reading…

Sweet-as-pie performance earns Tyson Fury respect as world’s best | Kevin Mitchell

The Gypsy King’s next fight could be against Anthony Joshua with promoters keen to agree 50-50 split of the moneyAs Dorothy Parker almost said: “If all the British heavyweights in history were laid out end to end, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.” And they laughed when Tyson Fury said he was going to destroy Deontay Wilder. They’re not laughing now – as Bob Monkhouse almost said.In less than 20 minutes in front of a stunned audience at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night, Fury not only confirmed the dark days for British heavyweights are ancient fistic history but he moved alongside Lennox Lewis in the domestic pecking order and, more pertinently, edged ahead of Anthony Joshua. Continue reading…

Two-goal Aubameyang clinches win for nervy Arsenal against Everton

Their propensity to do things the hard way shows little sign of disappearing just yet but, as Mikel Arteta punched the sky and celebrated with his backroom staff, Arsenal could sense something a little different in the air. This win over a bright Everton side felt significant, even in an arena that knows false dawns like few others, and all of a sudden their path towards the European spots does not look quite as fraught. Arteta has now presided over a run of 10 unbeaten games and, at last, back-to-back league wins: momentum is gathering at the right time and key players at either end of the field are turning it on with regularity.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno were those who stood tallest here. If a match this fast, frayed and ragged was played 10 times, Arsenal would probably lose their fair share. But in Aubameyang they have an operator who, as Arteta said, appears re-energised by the demands being placed upon him; his second goal, heading in Nicolas Pépé’s cross with the second half less than half a minute old, was excellently taken and proved decisive after Leno made some vital late stops. Everton attacked in waves during the last quarter and a draw would not have been unfair, but the evidence is mounting that Arteta’s step-by-step reconfiguration is forging something with formidable potential. Continue reading…

Arsenal v Everton: Premier League – live!

Premier League updates from the 4.30pm GMT kick-offSaka is reluctantly making a big impression at the backAnd feel free to email Daniel or tweet him @DanielHarris 5.57pm GMT64 min Calvert-Lewin flashes a snap-shot wide. As long as this stays 3-2, Everton are well in the game, because Arsenal can insert some hideous defending just like that. 5.56pm GMT63 min “Interested in hearing about what folk think of your settler/dictator axis in predicting the coaching success of former players,” says Mike Hellberg. “Wouldn’t Inzaghi have been a settler?”Not necessarily, or at least that’s not my only criterion – I’m also looking for players who played with the hearts versus players who played with their heads. You can, for example, be a striker and still spend a lot of time thinking about the game and how to get the most from your talent. Continue reading…

England keep title hopes alive as George Ford outwits Ireland defence

England 24-12 IrelandTries from Ford, Daly, Cowan-Dickie help hosts to victoryEngland are back in Six Nations title contention after a convincing victory over a below-par and overly generous Ireland. In their first home fixture of the tournament the hosts successfully capitalised on a 17-0 first-half lead and now sit second in the table, four points behind unbeaten France with two rounds left to play.The outcome was crucially shaped by Ireland’s failure to deal with two clever George Ford kicks into their in-goal area which yielded tries for Ford and Elliot Daly respectively inside the opening 25 minutes. With Ireland also under frequent forward pressure and glaringly short of inspiration at half-back a sizeable home win was never in doubt, although England missed out on a potential try bonus point. Continue reading…

England v Ireland: Six Nations – live!

Six Nations updates from the 3pm GMT kick-offMcInally: Scotland must step up if we are to deny FranceAnd feel free to email Lee or tweet him @bloodandmud 2.56pm GMTThe teams are heading down the tunnel and onto the pitch. Conditions look perfect, which is quite the change from England’s last outing, and also means that there’s no excuses when it comes to how either team plays. 2.07pm GMTPre match reading departmentTadhg Furlong is back in form both on the pitch and in this interview Related: Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong on England, scrum cheats … and his grandmother Continue reading…

Manchester United v Watford, Wolves v Norwich: clockwatch – live!

Premier League updates from the 2pm GMT kick-offsAnd feel free to email Ben or tweet him @benfisherj 2.55pm GMTA juicy half-time stat to get stuck into, courtesy of Opta: Bruno Fernandes has scored each of the last 13 penalties he has taken in top-flight football (12/12 with Sporting and 1/1 with Man Utd) since missing for Udinese in April 2016. 2.51pm GMTElsewhere, City and Chelsea are level-pegging in the WSL: Related: Manchester City v Chelsea: Women’s Super League – live! Continue reading…

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong on England, scrum cheats … and his grandmother

Prop recalls Irish hurt at Twickenham, is blunt over scrums and tells an hilarious tale about his ‘nanny’Tadhg Furlong found himself caught in the crossfire of a bizarre row between Wales and France over scrums this week. The legality of his scrummaging technique was questioned by the Wales forwards coach, Jonathan Humphreys, a full 10 days after their defeat by Ireland. Humphreys was particularly frustrated by a scrum penalty awarded to Ireland when Wales were threatening a try in the 63rd minute which would have pulled them back into contention but Furlong, who had already scored a try by that stage, defuses the argument in his own affable way.“We try to push as square and straight as anyone,” he says. “They said we were scrummaging from left to right, in the quote I’ve just seen, which would be very, very square scrummaging. They probably could do with sorting out some of their stuff themselves, really, before looking at us. Not Wales but across the game, the trends are loose heads on big angles.” Continue reading…

Eddie Jones expects England to face ‘titanic’ Six Nations clash against Ireland

• Ireland bidding to clinch triple crown at Twickenham • Jones: ‘They have players who aspire to be No 1 in Europe’Eddie Jones believes Sunday’s “titanic clash” with Ireland will be a battle for European supremacy with England seeking to stay in the hunt for the Six Nations title.Ireland are bidding to win the triple crown at Twickenham and while Wales won the grand slam last year, Jones sees Sunday’s match as a head to head between players seeking to establish themselves as the top dogs in Europe. “They have a number of players who aspire to be No 1 in Europe and we have a number of guys in our team who aspire to be No 1 in Europe,” said Jones. “I think that means it will be a bit of a titanic clash.” Continue reading…