The race for the Super XV playoffs reaches its climax in the final round of the regular season this weekend, but the competition between Wallabies hopefuls for World Cup places shapes as an intriguing sub-plot in Australia.
Reigning champions New South Wales Waratahs, clinging to top spot in the Australian conference, will hope to stave off the challenge from the second-placed ACT Brumbies and secure a home semi-final with a big win over the lowly Queensland Reds in Sydney on Saturday.
At ground level, the Waratahs match will offer an absorbing duel between incumbent Wallabies halves Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps and their predecessors Quade Cooper and Will Genia.
The once-favored Reds duo of flyhalf Cooper and scrumhalf Genia have long been superseded by their Waratahs counterparts in the Wallabies pecking order.
With the Reds already out of the playoffs running, the match might be their last chance to give Michael Cheika, coach of both the Wallabies and the Waratahs, second thoughts.
“I’d say they will be coming here with a lot of motivation. It’s an opportunity for them to get in front of the Australian coach and they will probably see that as an Australian trial,” Daryl Gibson, an assistant coach to Cheika at the Waratahs, told local media.
Cooper was subdued last week as the Reds were thrashed by New Zealand’s visiting Waikato Chiefs, but the week before he was stellar against the Western Force on his return after two months from a serious shoulder injury.
Starting flyhalf Foley was relieved by the mercurial Cooper in the final two Tests of the Wallabies’ season-ending tour of Europe last year and does not want to give his coach any scope for a review of the status quo.
“We don’t want to play a bloke like that back into form,” Foley told local reporters.
Cheika is to name an extended Wallabies squad of 45 after this weekend’s matches and shave it down to 35 for the first two Tests of the Rugby Championship, which also involves South Africa, Argentina and world champions New Zealand.
Kamaru Usman put on a Fight Island masterclass yesterday to retain his UFC welterweight world title by grinding down a brave Jorge Masvidal in Abu Dhabi. “I’m at the top of the mountain and everyone’s looking at me,” said the 33-year-old Usman after scoring a unanimous points decision 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 on the three judges’ cards. The Nigerian-American Usman (17-1) looked the fresher fighter, with Masvidal (35-14) having taken the UFC251 headline bout at just six days’ notice when Brazil’s Gilbert Burns (19-3) tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to travel. The Las Vegas-based UFC pulled off a power-packed schedule with
MONKEYS ALSO WIN: The Rakuten Monkeys kept the Brothers from the first-half title as they dominated the Uni-President Lions, scoring four in the fourth The CTBC Brothers still need another win to clinch the first-half CPBL title, despite thrashing the hapless Fubon Guardians 17-0 yesterday, after the Rakuten Monkeys beat the Uni-President Lions 9-2. Fans of CTBC Brothers were hoping to celebrate the first-half title, with a crowd of more than 10,000 packed into the Taichung Intercontinental Stadium for their home game against the Guardians. The figure was an attendance record for this year, when baseball and most other major sports events worldwide have been played in empty venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entering the game, CTBC had pushed their magic number down to 2, meaning
Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League. Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league. Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year. The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and
Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the scudetto, AC Milan decided that returning to the pinnacle of club soccer required a new approach. Roc Nation, the entertainment agency of US rapper Jay-Z is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors, and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans. And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team who just won their league for the first time in 30 years? “We have been talking to Liverpool, because they’ve been through the same path