3 Dec 2019

Today's sports news: what you need to know

6:13 am on 3 December 2019

Latest - Rugby Australia and Israel Folau will return for a second day of court-ordered mediation after a marathon 12-hour session in Melbourne yesterday failed to get a result.

Israel Folau. Waratahs. Wallabies. Rugby

Israel Folau Photo: Photosport

The parties are engaging in the mediation in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne where Folau is suing Rugby Australia over the termination of his playing contract in May.

Along with their respective legal teams, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle and Folau arrived at the mediation session on Monday morning but despite pushing deep into the night, the parties were unable to come to a resolution.

The mediation was only listed for one day but a second session has now been added for tomorrow.

Rugby Australia issued a short statement last night, saying: "Court-ordered mediation between Rugby Australia and Israel Folau in the Federal Circuit Court, Melbourne has been adjourned to reconvene at 11.30am AEDT on Wednesday 4 December.

"Rugby Australia will provide no further comment until the mediation process is completed."

The 30-year-old last week upped his damages claim against Rugby Australia to $14 million - from an original $10 million - factoring in the belief that he could have been made Wallabies captain in the future.

Castle made a brief statement heading into court yesterday, where she thanked those in the rugby community for their support.

-Rugby Australia

Ruiz expects tougher fight

World heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr believes his re-match with Anthony Joshua will be a harder fight than his stunning victory in June but says all the pressure is on the Briton ahead of their showdown in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

Andy Ruiz Jr of California celebrates after defeating Anthony Joshua of England to win the World Heavyweight Championship fight.

Andy Ruiz Photo: Photosport

Mexican-American Ruiz produced one of boxing's biggest upsets when he dethroned the previously undefeated world champion Joshua with a seventh-round stoppage at New York's Madison Square Garden.

"We've got to see where he's at because all the pressure is on him. The pressure isn't on me because I followed my dream, made my dreams come true," Ruiz said ahead of the so-called 'Clash on the Dunes'.

"Of course I want more though -- I want the legacy of Andy Ruiz Jr."

Ruiz knocked down Joshua four times in their bout in June but says the 30-year-old will adopt a more cautious approach in the Diriyah Arena.

"I'm expecting that," he said. "But if he wants to bang, it's better for me. I love to bang because that's the fighter that I am. We have to pressure, work the body, break him down. Especially his mentality.

Ruiz Jr has suffered only one defeat in 34 fights, losing a majority decision to New Zealander Joseph Parker in 2016.


Tokyo main stadium finished

Tokyo's National Stadium, the centrepiece of next year's Olympic Games and host to the athletics competition, was officially completed at the weekend.

Construction of the stadium, which will have a capacity for about 60,000, began in December 2016, was completed in 36 months at a cost of $2.2 billion. Besides the athletics competition, scheduled for 31 July through 10 August, the stadium will also host the opening and closing ceremonies.

"We are very pleased that construction of the stadium - a key symbol of the Tokyo 2020 Games - has now been completed; it makes us realise just how close we are getting to the start of the Games," Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said.

Officially called the National Stadium, it will be known as the Olympic Stadium during the Tokyo Games.

-World Athletics

Rodgers says he'll stay at Leicester

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has poured cold water on speculation of a potential mid-season switch to manager-less Arsenal, saying that he was happy in his job and had no need to look elsewhere for another one.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers Photo: Photosport

British media has linked Rodgers with a move to the London club following Spaniard Unai Emery's sacking on Friday after Arsenal's worst run in more than a quarter of a century.

Rodgers, who has transformed Leicester into credible title contenders this season since taking over the Foxes in February, fuelled the speculation after Sunday's 2-1 win over Everton by saying he had a release clause in his contract.

"I have a contract here until 2022," Rodgers told reporters ahead of Wednesday's match against bottom club Watford.

"I gave an honest answer about how all managers have some sort of clause in their contracts and suddenly that seems to have thrown a door wide open.

Leicester's form has been remarkable with 16 wins and four draws from their 25 league games under the former Liverpool and Celtic boss.

They are second in the league with 32 points from 14 games, eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

"Why would I want to leave Leicester at this time? I'm working with a group of players who have so much potential," Rodgers added.


Coin minted for Federer

Tennis great Roger Federer is to become the first living Swiss to have a coin minted in their honour, with a commemorative 20 franc silver piece bearing his image being issued in January.

The 38-year-old 20-time Grand Slam champion is regarded by many as the greatest tennis player ever and is a national hero in Switzerland.

Swissmint confirmed that 55,000 of the coins, featuring Federer delivering a backhand, will be produced and will be available for pre-order from Tuesday until Dec. 19.

With demand expected to be high, Swissmint said another 40,000 coins could be issued in May while a 50 franc gold coin, featuring a different design would also be produced next year.

This year's commemorative Swiss coins included the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, the Furka Pass and the roe deer. The most recent sports-themed commemorative coin came out in 2015 and celebrated Hornussen -- a traditional Swiss sport played by farmers involving a puck and a stick.


Brave Blossom mantra honoured

'One Team', the mantra for Japan's historic run to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on home soil earlier this year, has been named Japanese 'buzzword of the year' for 2019.

The phrase came to embody a team and coaching staff born in many different countries but choosing to compete for Japan.

The Brave Blossoms, coached by former All Black Jamie Joseph and containing players born in seven countries, captured the hearts of a nation as they progressed to the World Cup knockout stages for the first time, beating Tier One nations Ireland and Scotland en route.

Joseph, and New Zealand born talismanic captain Michael Leitch consistently lauded the eclectic make up of their squad as a key factor in their success.

Other entries on 2019 top 10 list, created by Japanese publishing house Jiyukokuminsha, include 'Smiling Cinderella' and 'Shibuko', both nicknames given to golfer Hinako Shibuno, who won this year's Women's British Open.

'Reiwa', the name of Japan's new imperial era and 'tapiru', a verb meaning to drink the popular tapioca bubble tea beverage were also included on the list.


Qatari named Asian player of the year

Qatar's Akram Afif has been named Asian Player of the Year at the Asian Football Confederation's annual awards in Hong Kong, with Saki Kumagai from Japan claiming the women's prize.

Afif becomes the second Qatari player in a row to win the award, succeeding compatriot Abdelkarim Hassan.

The Al Sadd striker was instrumental in his country's title win at the Asian Cup finals in the United Arab Emirates at the start of the year and also led his club to the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League.

Afif won the award ahead of Iranian World Cup goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand and Japanese defender Tomoaki Makino, who helped Urawa Red Diamonds to the final of the Asian Champions League.

Kumagai has had a remarkable year for club and country, helping Olympique Lyonnais win the French league and cup as well as the Women's Champions League.

Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean striker Son Heung-min was named the International Player of the Year while his 18-year-old compatriot Lee Kang-in, who plays in midfield for Valencia, was named the Youth Player of the Year.


Anglo-Irish world cup bid

Chances of a joint British and Irish bid to host the 2030 football World Cup have grown after officials agreed to ramp up preparations.

The English FA, which has been leading a feasibility study, presented the findings to other associations at a meeting before the Euro 2020 draw on Saturday.

"The feasibility study is positive and there's a sense that the right thing to do is go forward," FAI general manager Noel Mooney told The Times.

"This bid is out on the front foot and very well led by the guys from the English FA who gave a very strong presentation.

"It's a chance to get a really credible bid and hopefully win it. I'd be very surprised if there's not a very credible bid from Great Britain and Ireland."

The Times reported the joint bid would have matches played in several English cities, alongside Cardiff, Glasgow and Dublin, with the final to be staged at London's Wembley Stadium.

Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay have announced a four-way bid which could have sentimental value as Uruguay hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1930.

China would be among the contenders if FIFA decide to change the rules on how the World Cup is rotated between regions.


Pochettino has offers

Former Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino is targeting a quick return to management in Europe with several "attractive projects" on the horizon, the 47-year-old has said.

The Argentine, who led Spurs to the Champions League final last season, was dismissed after a poor run of results across all competitions this season and replaced by Jose Mourinho who has since guided the team to three wins in as many games.

Pochettino has since been linked by the British media with the vacant job at Spurs' bitter north London rivals Arsenal, as well as Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

"There are a lot of clubs and attractive projects for me to take on," Pochettino told Fox Sports in Argentina.

"It's my intention to return to manage in Europe. It's hard for me to imagine a project in Argentina. However, for the sake of my family, I wouldn't refuse to work over here," he added.