25 Jun 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

1:37 pm on 25 June 2020

Latest - An extra Sunday afternoon game will replace the Thursday night fixtures in this year's men's provincial rugby competition.

Tasman players celebrate winning the 2019  Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final.

Tasman Rugby Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A revised Mitre 10 Cup draw has been released and the competition will kick off on Friday September 11th with North Harbour hosting Canterbury.

There will now be one Friday night game and three games on both Saturday and Sunday.

Champions Tasman kick open their campaign on the road against Counties Manukau.

Newly promoted Bay of Plenty face Taranaki at their new home venue in Inglewood.

The Mitre 10 Cup format remains the same with a 10-week round robin leading to semi-finals for the top four teams in the premiership and championship on 20 and 21 November, with the finals the following weekend.

New Zealand Rugby is still finalising the the Farah Palmer Cup women's schedule.

Meanwhile on the back of two straight wins the Blues have named the same starting line-up for their third round Super Rugby Aotearoa match against the Highlanders in Auckland on Sunday.

The only change from last weekend's win over the Chiefs is in the reserves where England international Joe Marchant is included in what will be his final match for the Blues before returning to his London club Harlequins.

US Open to play wheelchair competition

The organisers of the U.S. Open tennis tournament say they will include a wheelchair tournament at this year's Grand Slam in New York following a wave of player backlash over their initial decision to scrap the event.

Australian wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott.

Dylan Alcott Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The United States Tennis Association's announcement comes five days after the national governing body said they could have better communicated with wheelchair athletes before leaving them out of a plan that was aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19 and were rethinking their decision.

Australian Paralympic tennis champion Dylan Alcott led the backlash after the original plans for the Aug. 31-Sept 13 U.S. Open were revealed last week.

Alcott slammed the omission of the wheelchair tournament, calling it "disgusting discrimination" and said players posed no greater health threat than able-bodied entrants.

The changes at this year's U.S. Open include no spectators, reducing the number of teams in the men's and women's doubles events by half and the elimination of the mixed doubles and juniors competitions.


McCaw hangs up hockey stick

New Zealand women's hockey player Gemma McCaw has announced her retirement from the sport.

Gemma McCaw of the Black Sticks 2020.

Gemma McCaw Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 30-year-old striker played her 254 games for the Black Sticks after debuting as an 18-year-old in 2008.

She went to three Olympics and scored 72 goals.

McCaw retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics and had a baby with her husband Richie McCaw.

She returned to the Black Sticks last year in an effort to attend this year's Tokyo Olympics.

Burnley fan admits responsibility for banner

The Burnley fan who took responsibility for the "White Lives Matter Burnley" banner displayed from a plane above the Etihad Stadium has been fired from his job.

Jake Hepple, 24, who stated on Facebook that he had been involved in the incident which took place at the start of Burnley's Premier League match at Manchester City on Monday, was dismissed by aerospace manufacturer Paradigm Precision.

The company said in a statement that it "did not condone or tolerate racism in any form".

The banner was a response to the "Black Lives Matter" campaign which has been widely supported by Premier League clubs.

The Lancashire Telegraph reported Hepple's girlfriend Megan Rambadt, who worked at Solace Foot Health and Reflexology, was also sacked after she refused to attend racial sensitivity training.

A Lancashire Police investigation into the incident found that no criminal act had taken place.

The banner has been strongly condemned by Burnley Football Club who have said those involved will be banned for live from their matches.


Woman named MCC president

Former England women's captain Clare Connor has become the first woman to be named president of the Marylebone Cricket Club.

England cricket captain Clare Connor playing in New Zealand in 2000.

Clare Connor Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Connor, who was nominated by current president Kumar Sangakkara during the MCC's first online AGM, will take up the role in October 2021, pending approval by the club's members.

Former Sri Lanka international Sangakkara, the first non-British president, will likely remain in the role for a second 12-month spell because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cricketing landscape.

The 233-year-old MCC is based at Lord's, which it owns, and is the most esteemed club in cricket, acting as custodian and arbiter of the laws of the sport.

As well as playing around 480 games per year against schools, universities and clubs, it also invests $5 million per year into youth cricket.

It currently has 18,000 full members although only welcomed its first female full member in 2018, 20 years after a vote to allow women to join.


US sends another warning to WADA

The United States is threatening to cut off funding to the World Anti-Doping Agency unless it immediately enacts serious reforms, according to a report by the White House'S Office of National Drug Control Policy.

If WADA does not "change its way of doing business" the agency could soon find itself out of funding and out of business, warned Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The 19-page report seen by Reuters contains a series of recommendations to the U.S. Congress that are highly critical of WADA, particularly its handling of the Russian doping scandal, and questions its use of taxpayers money.

The U.S. is the largest single contributor to WADA, paying over $4 million to the 2020 budget of $58 million, half of which comes from the International Olympic Committee.


RWC in Japan was most successful

The Rugby World Cup held in Japan last year was the most economically successful World Cup to date, attracting some 242,000 international visitors and adding $4.5 billion to the country's GDP.

It was also "the biggest single-sport event ever held in Japan," said a report, which was commissioned by the sports governing body World Rugby and conducted by consulting firm EY.

The tournament achieved a ticket sell-out rate of 99%, more than any previous Rugby World Cup, while the matches were watched by a cumulative worldwide television audience of 857.28 million compared to 678.53 million for the 2015 World Cup in England.

The 242,000 international fans who came to Japan stayed an average of 17 days and compared to 14 days for England 2015 and was almost double the amount of spending.

As the last major sporting tournament to take place before the coronavirus pandemic shut down many events, World Rugby was also fortunate it could fall back on the financial gains from the tournament.

France will hold the next World Cup in 2023.


Two more marathons called off

Another two of the world's top six marathons won't happen this year.

Allison Roe on her way to winning the New York Marathon in 1981.

Allison Roe Photo: Photosport

The New York City Marathon and Berlin Marathon have both been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers say New York, the world's biggest marathon, which was originally scheduled to be held on November 1st, was called off due to novel coronavirus-related health and safety concerns for runners, spectators, volunteers and staff.

Berlin was scheduled for September 26-27.

The Boston Marathon, originally due to be held in April and then postponed until September, was cancelled for the first time in its history.

The Tokyo Marathon went ahead on March 1 with elite runners only, London has been postponed until October 4 and the Chicago Marathon has not announced any changes to their scheduled event in October.


Players withdraw from golf event

Two players have withdrawn from this week's US PGA golf event in Connecticut after their caddies test positive for Covid-19.

Brooks Koepka of the United States poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2019 PGA Golf Championship.

Brooks Koepka Photo: PHOTOSPORT

World number four Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell have both decided to withdraw from the Travelers Championship.

Golfweek, which spoke to Koepka, said the four-times major champion, his caddie and coach all went for additional testing after playing a practice round with McDowell.

Golfweek said Northern Irishman McDowell's caddie is isolating in Florida and had not travelled to Connecticut for the tournament.

The Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands is the third of five events on the PGA Tour's revamped schedule which is closed to the public in a bid to help stem the spread of the virus.

American Nick Watney last week tested positive for the virus, forcing him to withdraw ahead of second-round action in South Carolina.

Cameron Champ, a two-times winner on the PGA Tour, pulled out of the Travelers Championship earlier this week after testing positive for Covid-19.

New Zealander Danny Lee is in the field this week.


Nuggets win first game back

The Otago Nuggets have got their National Basketball League season off to the right start with a 104-100 win over the Manawatu Jets.

Nuggets guard Jarrod Kenny against Jets forward Hyrum Harris.

Jarrod Kenny Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After being overlooked in the draft by numerous teams, Jarrod Kenny stamped his mark on the competition by notching 28 points and six assists in his debut for the southerners.

The Nuggets last played in the national league in 2014.

Meanwhile the Taranaki Mountainairs scored their second straight win with a 107-95 victory over the Franklin Bulls.

Isaac Davidson was outstanding for the Bulls with 27 points (6/9 3PG), but it was the poise and quality of Marcel Jones (29 points/14 rebounds) and Derone Raukawa (18 points and 6 assists) that shone through and carried the Mountainairs to a deserved victory.

Yankees and Dodgers top favouratism

The odds are out for the new 60-game Major League Baseball season with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers favoured to reach the World Series.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood.


Both opened on top with the Houston Astros third favourites followed by the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins.

Yesterday the owners and the players agreed to a shortened 60-game season ending weeks of heated talks.

Players will report for training by Wednesday next week with the season starting three weeks later.

MLB teams usually play 160 games in a season running from April to October.


Pope Francis praises Zanardi

Pope Francis has written to former Formula One driver and Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi, who is in intensive care after suffering severe head injuries in a handbike accident last week, telling him his life is a "lesson of humanity".

In a handwritten letter published by the Gazzetta dello Sport, Pope Francis said the 53-year-old, who turned to handbike racing after losing both legs in a 2001 Champ Car crash in Germany, was an example of how to live life to the full.

Zanardi is an inspirational figure in the worlds of motorsport and Paralympic endeavour, a hugely popular and positive competitor who returned from life-changing injuries with a smile.

He has won a total of four Paralympic gold medals, two each at London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.