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Courtney Lawes, Billy Vunipola and Dylan Hartley on bench
Stuart Lancaster wants England to make a major statement on Saturday and, selection-wise, he is leading by example. If the switching of Manu Tuilagi to the right wing and the prospect of Courtney Lawes, Billy Vunipola and Dylan Hartley cracking their knuckles on the bench does not concentrate All Black minds nothing will. New Zealand can expect several kitchen sinks to be thrown at them in Dunedin.
It is not just the presence of Tuilagi in the No14 jersey which carries a message of intent. Not since the opening game of this years Six Nations, when he named two centres and two wings with nine caps between them, has Lancasters choice stirred more anticipation. In many respects his 23-man squad for the second Test is the most significant he has announced since he took the job full time in 2012.Continue reading...
Michel Platini is an opponent and prefers extra referees
In a potentially revolutionary move, the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, has proposed introducing video technology to allow managers to challenge two decisions per match. We could do something more on the field of play, said Blatter, who had been a longstanding opponent of goalline technology before being converted by Frank Lampards ghost goal at the 2010 World Cup.
Why dont we give team managers the possibility of two challenges for refereeing during a match? If a manager disagrees with a decision, he could ask for an immediate TV review with a referee.Continue reading...
England training geared to inflicting damage on Italy
Danny Welbeck hopes to prove his fitness in time to feature in Englands opening game against Italy on Saturday after scans on the forwards right thigh confirmed he had not suffered serious damage.
The Manchester United striker, already wearing heavy strapping on his leg, had pulled up during Tuesdays training session at the teams Urca base and limped off the pitch to receive treatment with the head physio, Gary Lewin. He sat out the teams drills on Wednesday to undergo further treatment, alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but has been encouraged by the results of the scans and aims to be back on the pitch and in contention when the players train at the Arena da Amazônia on the eve of the game against Italy.Continue reading...
Here it comes, then. After the storm: the storm. Brazil 2014 is finally upon us, a drama of ranged tectonic interests and high-end chicanery now dissolved into the relatively simple matter of the worlds greatest sporting event. This has been the peculiar trajectory of this World Cup, which already feels like a tale told in reverse, a seven-year, continental-scale wrangle that has dwindled away now to this, a series of football matches over four weeks in summer, starting with the hosts opening fixture against Croatia in São Paulo on Thursday night.
Brazil, naturally, expects. Although it must be said this has from the start been the most disobedient of global extravaganzas, chafing relentlessly against its own outsized margins. In the Brazilian governments ludicrously optimistic recent TV advert campaign described by federal prosecutors as absurdly divorced from reality Brazil 2014 was styled not just a World Cup but as the World Cup: a Copa das Copas and this, at least, rings true. There are World Cups and there are World Cups. And then there are Brazilian World Cups. For all the broader themes of vanished infrastructure projects and social unrest, Brazil 2014 is at heart a genuinely thrilling prospect, a pure sporting treasure to make even the most jaded observer drool a little.Continue reading...
Michael Garcia to give World Cup corruption findings in July
Fifa has voted down attempts to consider age and term limits for its executives, in a move that could allow Sepp Blatter to continue as president indefinitely. The referendum required a simple majority to take the proposals forward to next years Fifa Congress, where they would have needed the backing of 75% of members to be adopted.
Both were rejected out of hand, meaning the 78-year-old preparing to stand in 2015 for another term despite earlier promising this would be his last could theoretically carry on forever. The introduction of age or term limits was one of seven outstanding reforms listed by the former chairman of Fifas independent governance committee, Mark Pieth, when it was disbanded.Continue reading...