8 Jul 2021

Today's sports news: What you need to know

8:33 am on 8 July 2021

Latest - The British & Irish Lions have put aside a day of drama and uncertainty to comprehensively win the second game of their Covid-disrupted South African tour, crushing the Sharks 54-7 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

British & Irish Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins with head coach Warren Gatland ahead of their second tour match against the Sharks in Johannesburg on July 7, 2021.

Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins with Lions head coach Warren Gatland at an empty Ellis Park. Photo: INPHO

Makeshift fullback Josh Adams kept up his try-scoring blitz in a Lions jersey with a hat-trick, matched by Duhan van der Merwe and there was one each for Bundee Aki and Louis Rees-Zammit.

The Lions outscored their South African opponents eight tries to one with three conversions from Owen Farrell, who was outstanding after being drafted into first-five at the last minute, and four from his replacement Finn Russell.

The Lions led 26-0 at halftime at an empty Ellis Park in a match that was in doubt until some 90 minutes before kick-off after two positive Covid-19 cases in the Lions camp earlier in the day, forcing 12 players into isolation and necessitating eight late changes in the matchday squad.

"The guys can only be happy with the result," said Lions captain Iain Henderson.

"We only found out 50 minutes before we left out hotel that the game was on."

- Reuters

South Africa's second test against Georgia, scheduled for Johannesburg on Friday, has been cancelled because of Covid-19 cases in both camps.

Handre Pollard celebrates with Springboks teammate Cobus Reinach (9) after he scored a try against Georgia in their test at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on 02 July 2021

The Springboks celebrate scoring a try in the first test against Georgia. Photo: Backpagepix 2021

The match was supposed to be a warm-up for the world champions Springboks ahead of their three match series against the British and Irish Lions, which is scheduled to start later this month.

"Following a review by the medical advisory group this morning, it was confirmed that the risk of further infection made it impossible to continue with the match," SA Rugby said in a statement.

The Springboks playing and support staff returned 12 positive tests for Covid-19 this week, while Georgia had four.

"We continue to plan for the Springboks' re-emergence from isolation and the completion of the test series (against the Lions)," SA Rugby chief executive officer Jurie Roux said.

"In the context of the loss of life and economic damage that COVID and this third wave are wreaking, the cancellation of a rugby match is pretty trivial. But it is still a major disappointment for the many stakeholders who have invested so much time, energy and resources into making these matches happen," Roux added.

- Reuters

Wallabies snatch victory in first test

First-five Noah Lolesio kicked a penalty after the fulltime siren to give Australia a last-gasp 23-21 victory over France in Brisbane to take a 1-0 lead in the three-test series.

Arthur Vincent of France looks dejected after defeat to Australia at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday 7th July 2021.

France lock dejected after losing the first test to Australia. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2021

France, understrength and fresh out of quarantine, had led from the sixth minute and looked to have a famous victory in their grasp when they had a line-out throw on halfway with 80 minutes on the clock.

The ball went back on their side but would not fall to a man in a blue shirt and Wallabies halfback Tate McDermott threw himself on it to spark an Australian charge at the line.

The gold shirts kept battering away even after they won penalty advantage but the French held out and it fell to Lolesio, who had missed a drop goal attempt three minutes from time, to calmly slot the ball between the posts from the tee.

Lolesio, making only his second start at first-five after his debut last year when the Wallabies were thrashed by the All Blacks, said he would be having nightmares about the missed drop goal.

"From my debut to this, I'm so proud of this team, and myself to bounce back like that," the 21-year-old said.

- Reuters

Defending champion extends Tour de France lead

Tadej Pogacar showed great composure to recover from a rare failure as he extended his advantage in the general classification at the end of a brutal 11th stage of the Tour de France.

Tadej Pogacar pictured with the yellow jersey during the podium ceremony  during stage 10 of the 108th edition of the 2021 Tour de France cycling race, a stage of 190,7 kms between Albertville and Valence on July 6, 2021 in Valence, France.

Tadej Pogacar. Photo: Panoramic

The defending champion cracked near the top of the second ascent of the punishing Mont Ventoux as one of his challengers, Dane Jonas Vingegaard, attacked.

But the Slovenian, who dropped some 40 seconds behind, eventually caught the Jumbo Visma rider in the long descent to the finish.

Pogacar was leading Ben O'Connor by 2:01 in the morning but the Australian cracked in the steepest, woods-covered part of the Ventoux to leave the 22-year-old's closest rival, Colombian Rigoberto Uran, trailing by 5:18.

Dutchman Wout van Aert won the stage.

- Reuters

White House suggests review of anti-doping rules

The White House said it may be worthwhile to review anti-doping rules in sport after American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson tested positive for cannabis use.

Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates winning the Women's 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon.

Sha'Carri Richardson Photo: AFP

USA Track & Field (USATF) declined to select Richardson to the relay team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after she accepted a one-month ban for the prohibited substance, which she said she used to cope with the death of her mother.

The 21-year-old was expected to be one of the biggest draws in Tokyo but is unable to compete in the individual 100m event as her suspension wiped out her win at the trials. Selection for the relay team was her only remaining hope of competing at the Games.

"We know the rules are where they are, maybe we should take another look at them," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a CNN interview, adding that President Joe Biden had paid particular attention to her after the tragedy she endured.

"We certainly have to respect the role of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the U.S. Olympic Committee and the decisions they make," said Psaki. "But it is sad, and we do wish her luck and look forward to seeing her running, running as the fastest woman in the world, and for years to come."

- Reuters

Indigenous Australian named flag bearer for Olympic opening ceremony

Basketball player Patty Mills will become the first Indigenous Australian to carry the country's flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics after he was selected for the honour alongside swimmer Cate Campbell.

22nd August 2019; Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; International Basketball, United States of America versus Australia Boomers; Patty Mills of Australia dribbles the ball past Donovan Mitchell of USA - Editorial Use Only.

Patty Mills. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

Campbell will be the first female swimmer to be the flag bearer for Australia and the third from the sport following Max Metzker (Moscow 1980) and Andrew "Boy" Charlton (Los Angeles 1932), while Mills is the third basketballer, joining Lauren Jackson (London 2012) and Andrew Gaze (Sydney 2000).

Both athletes will participate in their fourth Olympics at Tokyo this month, having made their debuts in Beijing 2008, and join a list of 23 Australians who have previously carried the flag at a Summer Games.

For the first time, the International Olympic Committee has asked all countries to have a male and a female flag bearer to promote gender equality.

Sprinter Cathy Freeman lit the torch at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and later became the first Indigenous Australian to win an individual Olympic gold medal.

- Reuters