23 Mar 2019

Today's sports news: What you need to know

7:03 pm on 23 March 2019

Latest - England's Football Association has paid tribute to the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks ahead of the European Championship qualifier against Czech Republic.

22 March 2019 Wembley, UEFA European Championship Qualifying - England v Czech Republic - a brief moment of respect for Atta Elayyan a futsal player who died in the mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand (photo by Mark Leech / www.photosport.nz)

Photo: Offside Sports Photography

Fans at Wembey have been asked to join in a moment of remembrance for all who were killed and injured, and all affected by the tragedy in Christchurch.

The FA showed an image of New Zealand futsal goalkeeper Atta Elayyan on the big screen.

He was one of those killed at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque.

England went on to beat Czech Republic 5-nil, with Raheem Sterling scoring a hat-trick.

World champions France have also opened with Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a comfortable win, beating Moldova 4-1, while reigning champions Portugal have been held to a scoreless draw by Ukraine.

Sunwolves urged to join Global Rapid Rugby

Former Crusaders coach Robbie Deans believes the Sunwolves should resurrect themselves in the rebranded Global Rapid Rugby competition.

Sunwolves halfback Fumiaki Tanaka,  first five Hayden Cripps, centre William Tupou and fullback Kotaro Matsushima during the Super Rugby rugby match - Chiefs v Sunwolves played at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday 29 April 2017.  Copyright photo: Bruce Lim / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2017

SANZAAR has confirmed the Japanese franchise will be culled from Super Rugby after the 2020 season, leaving its future in doubt.

Deans coached the World XV in the opening match of the new Global Rapid Rugby season and says the Sunwolves simply have to join the competition.

He says Japan needs something between the top league and international level, and hopefully they will move.

Formerly named World Series Rugby, Global Rapid Rugby has added teams from Singapore and Malaysia this year and is expected to expand to at least eight teams in its first full season in 2020.


Blues break Kiwi curse

A 74th-minute try from All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu has secured the Blues their first Super Rugby victory over New Zealand opposition since the first round of the 2016 season.

Fans and supporters.
Blues v Highlanders, Super Rugby. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 22 March © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

The Blues have beaten the Highlanders 33-26 at Eden Park, snapping a 20-match drought against rival Kiwi franchises.

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane scored two first-half tries for the Blues to jump to the top of Super Rugby's try-scoring charts.

The Auckland-based franchise remains fourth in the New Zealand conference, but is now just one point outside the top eight.

The Blues host the Stormers at Eden Park next Saturday, while the Highlanders have a bye.

Springbok forced out of Hurricanes game

Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth has been ruled out of the Stormers' Super Rugby tussle with the Hurricanes in Wellington tonight after failing to pass concussion protocols.

Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth Photo: Photosport

Etzebeth took a knock to the head in the 35-8 victory over the Jaguares last weekend, but was named in the team's starting line-up on Thursday.

"We were hopeful that Eben would be fit to play against the Hurricanes, but unfortunately he did not come through some of the tests later in the week, so we made the call to give him another week to recover fully," Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said.

JD Schickerling, who toured with the Springboks for their November Internationals last year, comes into the side with Salmaan Moerat moving onto the bench.


Kobori stuns at stroke play champs

Canterbury's Kazuma Kobori fired a stunning eight-under 64 third round to take a two-shot lead over Northland's Luke Brown at the New Zealand Stroke Play Championship in Christchurch.

After starting the day five strokes off the pace, the 17-year-old NZPGA champion was flawless with eight birdies and just 25 putts.

Auckland 15-year-old Carmen Lim has come from four shots behind to now lead the women's field by four after a superb round of five-under par.

Another accolade for Grand Slam winners

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has been named Six Nations player of the championship after leading his country to a first Grand Slam since 2012.

Alun Wyn Jones lifts the Six Nations Championship trophy and Jonathan Davies raises the Triple Crown. 2019.


Jones turned in a string of consistent performances as Wales powered past France, Italy, England and Scotland before beating title holders Ireland in Cardiff last weekend.

The 33-year-old lock fended off competition from team mates Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams and Liam Williams and English duo Jonny May and Tom Curry, who were part of the six-man shortlist for the award.

"For me as the captain, it's a validation of what we've done as a squad throughout the campaign," Jones said in a statement.

Jones is the fifth Welshman to win the award, following in the footsteps of Leigh Halfpenny (2013), Dan Lydiate (2012), Shane Williams (2008) and Martyn Williams (2005).


Fox sneaks through to the weekend

Ryan Fox has narrowly made the cut at this week's European Tour golf tournament in Malaysia.

Ryan Fox

Ryan Fox Photo: bwmedia

The New Zealand number one has carded a one-over 73 in his second round to be in a tie for 55th at even par, eight shots off the lead.

It's Fox's first tournament since playing in the New Zealand Open at the start of the month.

And Danny Lee has also scraped through to make the cut at the latest PGA Tour tournament in Florida. His one-over 72 was enough for a two-round tally of 143 and a share of 49th place.

Skipper leads Australia to another ODI victory

Aaron Finch has produced a match-winning century to lead Australia to an eight-wicket victory in the first one-day cricket international against Pakistan in Sharjah.

Australian batsman Aaron Finch.

Australian batsman Aaron Finch. Photo: All Rights Reserved

The skipper has top scored with 116 and shared in a 172-run partnership with Shaun Marsh as Australia's hauled in a target of 281 with one over to spare.

It's Australia's fourth straight ODI victory, after winning just four of its previous 26.

There are a further four one-day internationals between the two sides in the lead-up to this year's Cricket World Cup.

Black Sticks go down in goal-fest

China's stunned the New Zealand women's hockey team 5-3 in a highly competitive Pro League match at Wujin Hockey Stadium.

New Zealand Blacksticks Stacey Michelsen.

New Zealand Blacksticks Stacey Michelsen. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

The hosts played with a new attacking flair that proved too much for the New Zealand side.

China led 2-nil at halftime and the Black Sticks trailed 3-nil before opening their account.

Stacey Michelsen, Shiloh Gloyn and Rose Keddell scored New Zealand's goals.

Black Sticks coach Sean Dancer said their mistakes hurt them.

"In the last quarter we started to apply some pressure, and were able to get back into the game, unfortunately it came too late in the match".

Young Tongan forward shines for the Broncos

A powerhouse display from Tevita Pangai has inspired Brisbane's 29-10 NRL win over a battered and bruised North Queensland at a packed Suncorp Stadium.

Tevita Pangai Junior celebrates after scoring for Tonga against Australia in October.

Tevita Pangai Junior celebrates after scoring for Tonga against Australia in October. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Tongan wrecking ball was a man on a mission, monstering the Cowboys to help open Brisbane's 2019 winning account in front of 45,023 fans.

North Queensland had no answer to Pangai's heroics especially after inspirational lock Jason Taumalolo suffered a knee injury early in the second round clash.

Taumalolo wasn't given a chance to back up his phenomenal 301m effort in North Queensland's first round win over St George Illawarra, suffering a medial knee complaint in his first hit-up of the match.


Vunivalu hat-trick sets up Storm win

A first half Suliasi Vunivalu hat-trick has inspired Melbourne to a commanding 22-10 NRL victory over the Raiders in Canberra.

The dashing Storm winger ran in three tries in the opening 30 minutes to stun the Raiders.

Kiwis forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona scored Melbourne's fourth and final try midway through the second-half.


Brazilian forward facing a potential three match ban

Paris St Germain forward Neymar has been charged for "insulting and/or molesting" the referee following his post-game rant after the French side were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester United.

Neymar of PSG


Neymar, who was sidelined by injury, was investigated for lashing out and labelling the video assistant referee system a "disgrace" after United won a controversial penalty in the dying stages to advance on away goals.

If the Brazilian is found guilty, he could be suspended for three matches in the competition for insulting match officials.

UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will look into the case and a date for the hearing is yet to be confirmed.