Flintoff trades bat for gloves
Having knocked down many an off-stump during his time as England cricket captain, Andrew Flintoff hopes to do the same to opponents when he takes to the boxing ring later this year. Flintoff’s preparations for his debut fight, scheduled for Nov. 30 at the Manchester Arena, are to be televised in a documentary The Gloves Are Off. The 1.93m sportsman, who would box as a heavyweight, has yet to apply to the British Boxing Board of Control for a license, but is being trained by former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan and the Irishman’s son, Shane. Flintoff played in 79 Tests for England as an all-rounder before retiring from cricket in 2010 because of injury. He transcended sporting fame to become a national treasure by leading England to a famous Ashes victory in 2005 — their first Test series win over Australia in almost two decades. He has made numerous media appearances since on sports panel shows and was a guest commentator during some matches of last year’s Darts world championship in England. Robert Smith, the general-secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, said obtaining a license was not a foregone conclusion.
UAE to host tournament
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to host an inter-Arabian Gulf Rugby Sevens tournament to boost the sport regionally, ahead of the 2014 Asian Games and the 2016 Olympics. The event is also part of a drive to get Sevens into the West Asian Games, UAE Rugby Association chief Ian Bremner said. Officials have held talks with rugby’s world governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB), and plan to stage the four-nation event in November. “We’ve just applied last week to the IRB to run a ... tournament here with Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia and ourselves,” Bremner told reporters. “It’s a West Asian Sevens competition and this is obviously on the route towards the Asian Games.” Bremner said the IRB had encouraged the UAE to invigorate the sport within the region. “This is our first step in terms of hosting that tournament,” he said. “We’d be very happy for any of the other teams attending to host another leg of that next year.” The UAE’s rugby chiefs are looking to increase the number of nationals playing the game with a view to future involvement in the Asian and Olympic Games. The sport will feature in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, and also for the first time at an Olympics in Rio de Janeiro 2016.
Argentina finalize team
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan finalized his team for their Rugby Championship clash on Saturday against New Zealand when he named his replacements bench yesterday. The Pumas had named their starting side on Tuesday, with flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez and openside flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon returning to the side after injuries. Both players missed Argentina’s 16-16 draw with South Africa in Mendoza, Argentina, two weeks ago and will bring an added dimension to a Pumas side packed with experience and burning to stamp their credentials on the competition. “We are really excited to play the match against New Zealand,” center Santiago Fernandez said in a statement on the Argentine Rugby Union Web site. “They are the best in the world and we hope things go well. We have to try to put them under a lot of pressure, because if you let them play, they are lethal. They are the best in the world and if you have not closed spaces [they will punish you].”