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Updated: 37 min 51 sec ago

Jim Mallinder sacked as director of rugby at Northampton Saints

2 hours 25 min ago
• Saints board were under pressure after string of poor results
• Alan Dickens will take over as interim head coach

Jim Mallinder has been sacked as Northampton director of rugby. Saints chairman John White said “the board and major shareholders felt that the time was right for some change,” in a statement released by the Aviva Premiership club.

Former England full-back Mallinder was the Premiership’s longest-serving rugby director, having taken over at Franklin’s Gardens in 2007.

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Wenger says footballers cannot replicate respect shown in sumo wrestling

2 hours 50 min ago
• Arsenal manager was reacting to Manchester derby tunnel bust-up
• Emirates coach says footballers cannot always be angels off the pitch

Arsène Wenger doesn’t believe it is realistic to expect footballers to “commit 200% on the pitch and be an angel after”. Speaking in relation to the hullabaloo over the celebrations that bubbled up with reports of high emotions in the tunnel at the Manchester derby at the weekend, the Arsenal manager was reminded of his time watching sumo wrestling when he was manager of Japanese side Grampus Eight for a totally different experience of those twin imposters of success and failure.

Related: United and City dispute the blame for Manchester derby tunnel bust-up

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Street-smart Pat Cummins can give the Waca a roaring Ashes farewell | Jason Gillespie

2 hours 51 min ago
Fast bowler is a pleasure to watch having cleverly recalibrated after injury to resemble a 50-cap veteran as he prepares to pepper England in the third Test

It was during the second Ashes Test at the Waca in 1998 that I experienced one of the most important moments in my time as a player. Though in front in the match, on the second evening England’s batsmen launched a second innings counterattack and suddenly my bowling was being taken apart.

Related: Australia’s Ashes angel Nathan Lyon has England in a spin before Waca Test | Vic Marks

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David Squires on … the Manchester and Merseyside derbies

3 hours 23 min ago

Our cartoonist takes a peek inside the Old Trafford tunnel, at Sam Allardyce’s Christmas tactical plan and more

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The NBA has surpassed the NFL as the league of America’s future | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

3 hours 57 min ago

The NFL may still be America’s most popular sport, but it’s become increasingly clear that football embodies the spirit of a nation as it once was – not as it is today

Although football has long been America’s favorite child among professional sports, there are clear indicators that the ole pigskin is starting to deflate in fans’ eyes. Football fanatics need not panic: polls show it’s still far ahead of both baseball and basketball in popularity. The 2017 NBA finals averaged 20.4m viewers (a 20-year record), which is roughly the same as the NFL’s regular Sunday night audience of 20.3m, and nowhere near the 2016 Super Bowl über-audience of 111m. Based on just those numbers, football is still kicking professional basketball, baseball, and hockey through the goal posts. But America can be fickle. And the Magic 8-Ball of our cultural zeitgeist says, “All signs point to the NBA replacing the NFL as the league of America’s future.”

This prediction has nothing to do with the athletes themselves, their level of skill, their heart, or their commitment to their sport. Professional athletes are generally the highest expression of what the human body is capable of doing and therefore inspiring to the fans to reach higher and strive harder. In that way, no sport is superior to any other sport. But when it comes to professional sports, some are more inspirational, more exciting, and more entertaining to the general public than others and those sports take on a symbolic meaning for Americans. They come to represent our core values. They represent not just who we are, but who we want be.

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Nicola Hobbs: ‘It was really hard at first to have both, football and the fire service’ | Suzanne Wrack

3 hours 57 min ago
London Bees goalkeeper navigates two male-dominated lines of work with aplomb but may soon have to choose between her abiding passion and her work

The London Bees goalkeeper Nicola Hobbs was between the sticks at the Hive on Saturday as the Bees recorded their first win of the WSL2 season, a 2-1 victory over Oxford United. Yet just 24 hours earlier she was sitting in a gilded hall in the capital at the excellence in fire and emergency awards 2017. Because Hobbs is also a firefighter, and one who was nominated for this year’s most influential woman in fire award.

A woman navigating one male-dominated line of work is impressive, but two is rarer.

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Talking Horses: Hoping that fiery tearaway Yorkhill follows Gold trail

4 hours 25 min ago

One can go mad hoping that Willie Mullins sends a particular horse a certain way but the signs are encouraging about this Festival winner

Those of us who want to see Yorkhill in a Gold Cup got some encouragement from an Irish Times piece yesterday, predicting he may make his return to action at Leopardstown over Christmas in the race formerly known as the Lexus (or the Ericsson if you go back a bit further). “Leopardstown at Christmas looks a good possibility,” Willie Mullins was quoted as saying. 

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Alastair Cook warns England must smarten up as third Ashes Test looms

4 hours 40 min ago
• Cook will become first Englishman to reach 150 Test caps at Waca
• ‘The world obviously changed’ after Stokes incident, admits Cook

Alastair Cook warns England must wise up to a changed world if they are to regain the respect of a nation. Cook will become the first Englishman to reach 150 Test caps when he tries to help Joe Root’s troubled Ashes tourists turn their series around in Perth this week.

But it is a stream of off-the-field incidents which has placed England’s reputation most in jeopardy. As their 32-year-old national-record runscorer seeks to arrest his worrying dip in form, he concedes the bar room backdrop to England’s two defeats so far owes its genesis to Ben Stokes’ arrest outside a Bristol nightclub back in September. Cook knows that incident, awaiting resolution with Stokes still absent while the CPS decide whether to charge him, has drastically altered public perception.

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Football transfer rumours: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah to Real Madrid?

4 hours 54 min ago

Today’s fluff will put all other things aside

Real Madrid aren’t doing very well. They sit fourth in La Liga, trailing Barcelona by eight points and by eight goals, with Cristiano Ronaldo having scored just four times in the league and Karim Benzema only twice – and this in a country where it’s so easy to score that West Ham flop and comedy penalty run-up king Simone Zaza, now at Valencia, has 10. Inevitably they want to do something about this, and the something they want to do is buy everyone else’s best players.

Thus they will set forth in January armed with a few choice chat-up lines and a monster chequebook. and hope to return with none other than Egyptian speed merchant Mohamed Salah. According to Don Balón, the hope is that Liverpool will accept a bundle of cash and Lucas Vázquez for the man who has taken England by storm since returning to these shores in the summer, but if that doesn’t work out they could sell the 26-year-old Spanish forward to Roma and return to Anfield with an even bigger bundle of cash.

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England's Rugby League World Cup attracts venue interest from overseas

5 hours 27 min ago

• 2021 tournament held in England after beating bid from US
• Matches could be played in Perpignan, Avignon and Limerick

The organisers of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup have received 40 expressions of interest from potential host venues, including several inquiries from enticing areas outside England.

The Rugby League International Federation awarded the tournament to England last year ahead of a competing bid from the US. But matches could be played outside the host country, with venues in France and Ireland – including Perpignan, Avignon and Limerick – understood to have expressed interest in hosting games.

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Tom Brady intercepted twice as Miami Dolphins shock New England Patriots

8 hours 4 min ago
  • Jay Cutler passes for 263 yards and three TDs and Dolphins upset Patriots
  • Brady throws for 233 yards and one TD but Pats go 0 for 11 on third down

The Miami Dolphins wore their perfect season uniforms, and for at least one game in 2017, they looked the part.

Tom Brady was intercepted twice by Xavien Howard and held without a third-down conversion Monday night, and Miami snapped the New England Patriots’ eight-game winning streak with a surprising 27-20 victory.

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Maradona statue unveiled in India becomes target of online ridicule – video

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:01

Another football icon honoured by a statue has attracted widespread attention and ridicule. A bronze sculpture of the Argentina great, Diego Maradona, was unveiled at a club in Kolkata, although the dubious likeness to the 1986 World Cup winner has been the subject of much online mockery. The 12-foot statue features the 1986 World Cup winner with a healthy head of hair, with one online commenter saying it looked more like ‘someone’s gran’ than Maradona.

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'It looks like someone's gran': Diego Maradona statue unveiled in India

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:49
  • Bronze likeness ridiculed after unveiling in Kolkata
  • ‘I’m not a god of football’ says former Argentina player

Another football icon has been honoured by a statue with a bronze sculpture of the Argentina great, Diego Maradona, unveiled at a club in Kolkata, although the dubious likeness to the 1986 World Cup winner has attracted online ridicule.

The 12-foot statue features the 1986 World Cup winner with a healthy head of hair and holding aloft the trophy he helped Argentina win in Mexico, but bears little resemblance to the then 25-year-old captain of the side.

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Tyson Fury fails to turn up for crucial Ukad doping hearing in London

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:09
• Former heavyweight champion fails to appear before tribunal
• Fury charged after testing positive for a banned steroid in 2015

Tyson Fury failed to turn up for his UK Anti-Doping hearing on Monday, the agency has confirmed.

Athletes accused of anti-doping rule violations do not have to attend hearings in person but the 29-year-old former world heavyweight champion was expected at Ukad’s London headquarters on Monday morning. Members of the tribunal were sent home after 3pm but Ukad would not say if the hearing officially started or not.

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Guardian and Observer scoop three prizes in British Journalism Awards

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:02

Daniel Taylor, Carole Cadwalladr and Aditya Chakrabortty scoop prizes for sports, technology and comment respectively on Monday night

The Guardian and the Observer have won three British Journalism Awards, including sports journalism of the year for Daniel Taylor for exposing sexual abuse in football.

The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr won the technology journalism award for her investigation into Russia’s influence on the Brexit referendum while Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty scooped the award for comment journalism.

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Raelene Castle set to be first female chief executive of Rugby Australia

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:37
  • Castle will become first woman in charge of Australia’s major football codes
  • She was previously first female CEO of an NRL Club, at Canterbury

Former Canterbury NRL chief executive Raelene Castle is poised to take over as Rugby Australia’s new boss and make another piece of sports administration history. 

New Zealander Castle will be announced as the successor to incumbent chief executive Bill Pulver at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in Sydney.

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Cardiff City fight back for point at Reading after Neil Warnock is sent off

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:31

Lee Tomlin scored in stoppage time as Cardiff came from two goals down to snatch a draw at Reading.

A Callum Paterson own goal and a Mo Barrow effort gave the home side a 2-0 lead but, after manager Neil Warnock was sent to the stands, the visitors scored twice in the last seven minutes to earn a point.

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Sam Allardyce plans to question Everton players about wanting to stay

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:30
• Manager will quiz first-team squad before January transfer window opens
• Allardyce wants to bring in a proven goalscorer as well as sell

Sam Allardyce will ask every member of Everton’s first-team squad whether they wish to be part of the club’s future before finalising transfer plans for January.

Related: Everton’s Sam Allardyce sees his dour derby plan come to fruition | Paul Wilson

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Álvaro Morata absence for Chelsea adds to Antonio Conte’s problems

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:30
• Striker misses Premier League game against Huddersfield
• ‘He is out, because he’s a bit tired and there is a problem in his back’

Álvaro Morata will miss Chelsea’s match at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night because of a mixture of injury and fatigue, with Antonio Conte increasingly concerned by the strain a hectic schedule is placing on his first-team resources.

The striker was distinctly off-colour during the 1-0 defeat at West Ham United on Saturday, having struggled in the preceding week through illness and a knock sustained in training. Chelsea’s top scorer, with 10 goals, has had to shoulder a heavy burden up front during his first Premier League season in the absence of alternatives Conte trusts, but is now in line for an enforced rest that will inconvenience his manager.

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Congested calendar and lack of planning to blame for Saracens fixture pantomime | Robert Kitson

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:44
Confusion over rescheduling of Clermont Auvergne game adds embarrassment to injury on worst weekend for English clubs in Europe’s top tournament

The pantomime season is upon us but farce is rugby union’s recurring speciality. How else to explain the sight of Clermont Auvergne thrashing a pallid Saracens in one of the year’s supposedly highest-profile club fixtures in front of a paltry audience on a freezing Monday tea-time in Mill Hill?

To decree, as the European Professional Club Rugby did in a belatedly rescinded statement on Sunday night, that the rescheduled game would be held behind closed doors was ludicrous from everyone’s point of view – players, coaches, fans and sponsors. The natural disruption caused by a snowy weekend should not obscure the shambolic administrative aftermath.

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