Injuries could hamper the defending champion Auckland Blues as they attempt to turn around their Super 12 rugby season in a sixth-round match with the Wellington Hurricanes today. \nThe Blues have only one win from four matches in a bleak 2004 season and will be without All Blacks Ali Williams, Joe Rokocoko and Carlos Spencer as they approach the season's midpoint. \nBalancing those losses are the returns from injury Friday of captain Xavier Rush and All Black flanker Daniel Braid, which restores the Aucklanders' first-choice loose forward combination. All Blacks tighthead prop Kees Meeuws has also recovered from a back injury and will stiffen the Blues' front row. \nThe Waikato Chiefs meet the New South Wales Waratahs, the Canterbury Crusaders play the Otago Highlanders, the Stormers meet the Bulls at Cape Town and the table-topping ACT Brumbies meet the Queensland Reds on Sunday at Canberra. \nThe Blues haven't lost to the Hurricanes in the nine years of the Super 12 and scored 60 points on their last visit to Wellington two years ago. \nThey meet a Hurricanes team struggling for form after a one-point loss last week to South Africa's Sharks, winners only twice in five-matches and without their captain Tana Umaga. \n"This game is a must win for us -- and for them," Rush said. \n"It's a game we have to front up for but the Hurricanes have shown in fits and starts that they, when they're on their game, can be a very good side." \nAll Blacks No. 8 Rodney So'oialo returns from a foot injury to strengthen the Hurricanes, moving stand-in captain Jerry Collins to the blindside flank. Luke Andrews replaces Ross Kennedy at lock as Wellington look for forward mobility. \n"We've never beaten them and they don't like losing to Wellington," So'oialo said. "Their record is pretty good against us. We want to change that this week." \nAn individual battle between fullbacks Joe Roff for ACT and Chris Latham for Queensland has gained importance with news that Wallaby star Mat Rogers is out of action for up to five months with an ankle injury. \nBrumbies coach David Nucifora has tried to claim underdog status for his team, saying its tiring return from South Africa placed it at a disadvantage. \n"I can't see how we could possibly have the advantage," said Reds coach Jeff Miller. "They're leading the table, they're close to the top try-scorers, they have attacking weapons all over the field." \nThe Crusaders, four-time champions and finalists last year, started slowly but bolstered their campaign last week with a win over the Chiefs. \nSaturday's opponents, the Highlanders, also steadied their season with a win over the bottom-placed Cats though it was a win filled with flaws. The Highlanders remain the best-placed New Zealand team in the Super 12, fifth with two wins and a draw from five games. \nThe Crusaders start favorites. Tony Koonwaiyou is the only Canterbury starting back not to have played for New Zealand while the forward pack, despite a crisis at hooker, is full of internationals. \nHONG KONG SEVENS \nDefending champion England begins its campaign for a third straight Hong Kong Rugby Sevens title Friday without powerful center Henry Paul, who was forced to withdraw after becoming involved in a club-or-country row. \nEnglish Premiership side Gloucester refused to release Paul to compete at the Hong Kong event, saying it wanted him to play in a crucial play off match against Sale on Friday. Despite threats from England's Rugby Football Union to ban Paul for 10 days of club action, Gloucester refused to back down. \nEngland has been drawn with Georgia, Scotland and China in the preliminary round of the Hong Kong competition, the fifth leg in the IRB Sevens series. \n"It would have been nice to have had Henry with us. But I believe we can still win this tournament without him," said England's Sevens captain Simon Amor, a teammate of Paul at Gloucester. \nNew Zealand has included stalwart Eric Rush in its team, as it looks to consolidate its position at the top of the IRB standings.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but
Legendary batsman Everton Weekes, the last of the famed West Indies “Three Ws,” died on Wednesday at the age of 95 and was hailed as “a founding father” of the sport in the Caribbean. “Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of an icon. A legend, our hero, Sir Everton Weekes,” Cricket West Indies (CWI) wrote on Twitter. “Our condolences go out to his family, friends and many fans around the world. May he rest in peace.” Barbadian Weekes was part of a feared post-World War II West Indies team who also featured Clyde Walcott and Frank Worrell. Walcott died in