7 Apr 2021

Today's sports news: What you need to know

9:52 am on 7 April 2021

Latest - The six Highlanders players stood down for in-house disciplinary reasons ahead of the side's surprise win over the Crusaders at the weekend have been cleared to play against the Chiefs on Saturday.

All Black Josh Ioane is one of six Highlanders dropped for disciplinary reasons.

All Black Josh Ioane is one of six Highlanders dropped for disciplinary reasons. Photo: Photosport

The players which included All Black first five Josh Ioane, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Sio Tomkinson, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Sione Misiloi and Daniel Lienert-Brown have all been declared "available for selection" by assistant coach Clarke Dermody.

"They have to earn their way back in....for them it's about earning the trust of the boys again," said Dermody.

"They're doing that. They've put their heads down and have started working and they are all available for selection.

"But it's up to the coaches and leaders to see if they have earnt that spot."

Call for leadership change at rugby players union

Former-All Black Sir John Kirwan is calling for a leadership change in the Rugby Players Association admidst on going negotiations around US tech company Silver Lake buying into New Zealand Rugby.

Sir John Kirwan

Sir John Kirwan. Photo: Photosport

New Zealand Rugby and the Players Association are currently in mediation talks after several high-profile players wrote to the NZR expressing concern over the proposed $465 million deal that would see Silver Lake buy a 15 percent stake in the game here.

Kirwan says the relationship has broken down and the Players Association should consider a leadership change in what is a pivotal moment in the game.

"How can you start with mediation, you're telling me that's a relationship?"

"Maybe we just need a change. NZR has had a change, maybe the RPA need a bit of change because I just don't think that relationship is working," he said.


North Korea withdraws from Tokyo Olympics

North Korea has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics citing COVID-19 concerns.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2020 the logo of the Japanese Olympic Committee is displayed at an entrance of the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo.

Photo: AFP

It will be the first time North Korea has missed a Summer Olympics since it boycotted Seoul in 1988 amid the Cold War.

South Korean officials had hoped the Games could be a catalyst to revive stalled peace talks.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in had hoped the two countries, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, could field a combined team in Tokyo and rebuild momentum for improved relations.

The North's withdrawal from Tokyo is also a setback for plans, agreed at a 2018 summit between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to pursue a joint Korean bid to host the 2032 Games.

"The committee decided not to join the 32nd Olympics Games to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus," it the North Korean governemnt said.

North Korea says it has not had any coronavirus cases.


West Ham break into top four

West Ham are in the running to make a club-best English Premier League finish after breaching the top-four with a 3-2 win away at Wolverhampton.

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Photo: Photosport

Wolves notched a second-half goal to pull the lead back to a one goal margin but it wasn't enough to stop the London-side from grabbing their 15th win of the season.

With only eight games left in the season West Ham sit in fourth-place ahead of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham, with the opportunity to make club history.

A strong finish to the season could see David Moyes' West Ham beat their club-record Premier League finish which came in the 1998/99 season when they finished in fifth-place.

In today's other fixture, Everton missed the chance to leapfrog Liverpool in the league-table as they could only manage a 1-1 draw with mid-table Crystal Palace.


Osaka requests cancellation of Olympic torch relay leg

Authorities in Japan's Osaka, who have repeatedly said they want to cancel one leg of the Olympic torch relay, formally requested that the route through the western city be cancelled, a Tokyo 2020 organising spokesperson said on Monday.

The relay, due to reach Osaka in mid-April, is seen as the first major test of Games organisers' abilities to hold a large event under strict coronavirus curbs. It features 10,000 runners carrying the torch through all Japan's 47 prefectures.

The western metropolis of Osaka is grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases and the governor of Osaka prefecture has called for cancelling the leg that takes place in the city.

The head of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said on Friday she wanted to seek an early decision on the relay, and a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson said they were looking into the situation and hoped to reach a decision soon.

Organisers require roadside spectators to wear masks, practise social distancing and not cheer out loud to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. There have been no reports so far of infections arising from the relay, which began on March 25.


Yates sixth as Roglic wins Basque Country time trial

Adam Yates finished sixth in the Itzulia Basque Country's opening time trial, as Primoz Roglic took victory.

Jumbo-Visma's Roglic finished 28 seconds ahead of Ineos Grenadiers' Yates after the 14km stage in Bilbao.

Hugh Carty of EF Education-Nippo was one minute six seconds down, with Yates' British team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart a further two seconds back.

Last year's Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar of UAE-Team Emirates was also 28 seconds down in fifth.

Pogacar's team-mate Brandon McNulty was second, two seconds behind Roglic.

Last year's Giro d'Italia winner Geoghegan Hart was the first of the main British contenders to take on the challenging course in glorious sunshine in northern Spain.

But it was in-form Yates - winner of last month's Volta a Catalunya - who more effectively tackled the largely high-speed downhill course into the city, which was bookended by two technical climbs.

As Ineos dominated the race in Catalunya, taking the top three places in the general classification, it was Jumbo-Visma who are showing immense strength here, with Roglic first and the in-form Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark third, with Norway's Tobias Foss fourth.

The second stage is a hilly 155km run from Zalla to Sestao.