No Six Nations team has ever won the rugby World Cup, with Australia winning twice and New Zealand and South Africa once each. \nEngland and France have realistic chances this time. But, if Ireland, Scotland or Wales were to capture international rugby's biggest prize, it would be a major shock. \nAlthough historically among the forerunners of the sport, the three Celtic nations can't break into the top five. \nThe Welsh were the best team around in the 1970s. But that rich vein of talent has either been exhausted or lured away to rugby league or soccer and its best World Cup performance was a third place finish in 1987. \nThe Scots lost 9-6 to England in the 1991 semifinals. Like the Welsh they went into a slump although are showing signs of revival. \nIreland, by contrast, has come out of a long spell of mediocrity and, in the last three seasons, has been a strong challenger to England and France in the Six Nations. \nIf any of the Celtic teams is to make a challenge at the World Cup, Eddie O'Sullivan's team is the strongest. But the Irish are in the toughest group with Australia and Argentina and only two teams from each pool advancing to the quarterfinals. \nIn Brian O'Driscoll, the Irish have a world class center although the team has been robbed of two talented backs in Geordan Murphy and Rob Henderson through injuries. \nInspirational hooker row Keith Wood, who scored four tries against the US at the last World Cup, is back after a lengthy spell out and the pack includes Victor Costello, a 32-year-old flank forward who competed at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona in the shot put. \nFly halves David Humphreys and Ronan O'Gara are vastly experienced and have scored 792 points for Ireland between them in a combined 89 appearances. The team also contains quick and imaginative backs in Girvan Dempsey, Denis Hickie, Shane Horgan, O'Driscoll and Kevin Maggs. \nThe Irish, whose buildup including a motivational meeting with former world middleweight champion Marvin Hagler, have never made it to the World Cup semifinals, although they lost 19-18 in the last minute of a thrilling 1991 quarterfinal against eventual champion Australia. \nWith Jonathan Davies now in retirement, the Welsh are still waiting for a sparkling midfield general to match the likes of 1970s stars Gareth Edwards, Barry John and Phil Bennett. \nThey thought Iestyn Harris was the man but, so far, the former rugby league great hasn't managed to adapt his skills to the 15-man code. \nHired by Cardiff from Leeds Rhinos in a ?1 million (US$1.6 million) transfer two years ago, Harris has been tried both at flyhalf and at center. But so far he has been a major disappointment and there is speculation that Cardiff won't be able to afford him after this season and he may return to league. \n"In the long term, the decision will be his," said Davies, who also has starred in both rugby codes. "He's tasted international rugby and now he's going to go back to club rugby. And, if he has a choice of playing in front of 15,000 in Super League or three or four thousand in Wales, it's difficult to see why he won't go back." \nWith Stephen Jones likely to start at flyhalf, Harris likely will be in the center or even on the bench when the Welsh take on Canada in their first game on Oct. 12 in Melbourne. Team captain Colin Charvis and his men hope to have maximum points from matches against Canada, Tonga and Italy before taking on New Zealand in their final group game in Sydney on Nov. 2. \nNeil Cockbain, a 2.08m, 115.6kg lock forward and brother of Australian backrower Matt, is in the Welsh squad but won't run into his relation unless both teams face off in the semis. \nSince winning the old Five Nations championship in 1999, Scotland's main goal in the championship has been battling with Wales and Italy to avoid the wooden spoon and shame of finishing last. \nIt was boosted, however, by a 21-6 victory over South Africa at Murrayfield 11 months ago, its first triumph over the rugby powerhouse since 1969. \nAlthough the Springboks were an ailing team which went on to lose 53-3 to England, the result stimulated Scottish confidence and Bryan Redpath's team will be expect to beat Japan, the US and Fiji in Group B, even if it may struggle against France in Sydney. \nKenny Logan and Chris Paterson are two of the quickest wingers around and the vastly experienced Gregor Townsend, who can play either at flyhalf or center, will test defenses with his ability to switch the play either by hand or with his unexpected high kicks near the posts. \n"I would really tell the younger lads to go for it," said Townsend, whose first World Cup was in 1991. \n"I have never played a World Cup away from home because I missed South Africa in 1995 with an injury so I will be feeling like them. This only comes around every four years and we will have to back ourselves."
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is buying the Forum for US$400 million, ending the billionaire’s legal fight with Madison Square Garden Co (MSG) and clearing the way to build a new arena for his NBA team down the street in Inglewood, California. Ballmer on Tuesday announced his cash purchase of the venerated arena. Ballmer, a former Microsoft executive, and Clippers vice chairman Dennis Wong are making the transaction through CAPSS LLC, a newly formed entity that would continue to operate the Forum as a live music venue. “This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said.
When two Spanish soccer players took to the controls of FIFA 20 after the COVID-19 pandemic saw their La Liga match canceled, a stadium-sized virtual audience watched online. The huge digital crowd last week is part of a spectacular boom for the digital gaming industry, as record numbers flock to online servers for distraction, entertainment and friendship with the “real world” seemingly falling apart. Real Betis Balompie striker Borja Iglesias kicked the winning goal using his own digital likeness in the 6-5 battle against Sevilla, which was broadcast on popular video game streaming platform Twitch. It took place at the same time the
This year’s Wimbledon Championships have so far survived the cull of the world’s most prestigious sporting events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it seems only a matter of time before they are postponed or canceled. With London in its first week of lockdown, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) officials are weighing up their limited options. The “build” for the June 29 to July 12 championships is supposed to start in little more than a month, but it seems increasingly likely that Wimbledon will be forced to miss a year for the first time since 1945. “The AELTC has been
New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson has said that the sport is “fighting for survival” as competitions at all levels are shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Robinson told Sky Sport’s The Breakdown that he cannot say when professional rugby might resume in New Zealand and in what form, whether it would be the five-nation Super Rugby tournament or the domestic Mitre 10 Cup. Rugby is New Zealand’s national sport and the All Blacks, the national men’s team, are one of the country’s most recognizable brands. The continuing suspension of competitions has been fully testing rugby’s resilience, Robinson said. “We’re fighting for sport’s survival in