Sport’s return from lockdown: live updates as Super Rugby Aotearoa begins


FOOTBALL: No further investigation into Callum Hudson-Odoi

Callum Hudson-Odoi will not face any further action on an allegation of rape, the Chelsea winger has said.

Hudson-Odoi was arrested on May 17 and released on bail but the England international says the police will not take the case further.

He wrote on Twitter: “At a time where there are bigger things happening in the world right now, you may also be aware of serious allegations that were made against me.

“I have stayed silent and assisted the police fully throughout their enquiries, as I knew the day would soon come when my name would be cleared.

“Following a full and thorough investigation, the police have now confirmed they will take no further action.”



Missed the rugby earlier?

Highlights from a dramatic first game of professional rugby in over three months, with the Highlanders facing the Chiefs.


Bundesliga action!

JJ Bull is currently live-blogging action between Dusseldorf and Borussia Dortmund, right here.

Borussia Dortmund's Thorgan Hazard in action with Fortuna Dusseldorf's Niko Giesselmann

Borussia Dortmund’s Thorgan Hazard in action with Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Niko Giesselmann



FOOTBALL: Spurs must adapt to empty grounds

Jose Mourinho has emphasised the importance of his Tottenham players getting used to empty stadiums as they prepare to resume their Premier League campaign against Manchester United next Friday night.

Spurs played Norwich in a friendly at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday to get a feel for playing in their cavernous home without the backing of their fans, with the match divided into four periods of 30 minutes to give more players the chance to get some meaningful time on the pitch.

“It was a good training session,” Mourinho said in an interview with the club. “We needed minutes, we needed to know the feeling of playing here without our supporters and to have this training sessions with another Premier League team is the best thing.

“We have to adapt to this new reality, which is what we tried to do, to have a feeling of playing with an empty stadium. The points are there to fight for, and with or without fans, the points are there on the pitch and ourselves and United will have to fight for them.”

Jose Mourinho, head coach of Tottenham Hotspur during the friendly practice match between Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City on Friday

Jose Mourinho, head coach of Tottenham Hotspur during the friendly between Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City on Friday


Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Son Heung-Min and Steven Bergwijn were all involved, having recovered from injury during the shutdown.

“We decided to mix them and to give almost the same amount of minutes to everyone,” Mourinho said.

“We didn’t want any players to be into the limits of fatigue and of course nobody played the four periods… what we work on tactically we do in the training ground but the match was much more about competing, getting minutes, intensity and it’s very important to do it and to have this last week without any injuries.

“We all know that in these first matches, and in the friendlies, there’s also the risk of getting some injuries.”



FOOTBALL: New contract for McGoldrick

David McGoldrick has signed a contract extension at Sheffield United that will keep the forward at the club until the summer of 2022.

The Republic of Ireland international scored 15 times in 45 appearances in his first season with the Blades to help them achieve promotion to the Premier League – although he is yet to break his duck in the top-flight.

Sheffield United's David McGoldrick

Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick


However, he has become the third Sheffield United player to put pen to paper on a new deal this week, following in the footsteps of club captain Billy Sharp and deputy Ollie Norwood.

He said on the club website: “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be spending the next two years, so I’m over the moon to sign this extension and remain a part of this fantastic journey the club is on.”



Sam Wallace on the problems facing Real and Barca

If Real’s finances were precarious before the pandemic then one can only wonder what they look like now, although to read the rump of the Spanish press one would think that it is Galatico business as usual.

 Read the full column here.


CRICKET: England do not have to visit Pakistan in return

Pakistan’s head coach Misbah-ul-Haq insists the decision to tour England this summer has no strings attached regarding a return visit.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has named a 29-man squad to contest three Tests and three Twenty20s in August and September, following the example of the West Indies who are currently preparing for next month’s ‘bio-secure’ series in England.

Despite the stringent health and safety protocols devised by the England and Wales Cricket Board, both teams have still committed to long spells away from home at a time of great uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as basing themselves in a country that has yet to fully control the spread of the virus.

In doing so they are providing a considerable service to international cricket as a whole, not to mention saving the ECB a huge hit to their broadcast revenues.

England have not toured Pakistan since the terror attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in 2009, instead playing at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates, but with international cricket having gradually returned to the country in recent years that could soon change.

Misbah is clear that there is no reciprocal element to the forthcoming series but stressed his desire to see more teams return to Pakistan.

Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq


“It is not in our minds that we are coming and keeping in view something that the ECB has to do for us in return,” he said.

“At the moment the PCB is just thinking about the restart of international cricket. That is very important to us, to get the players back on the ground. Obviously, in a bigger picture, we are not expecting anything in return. Overall we want not just the ECB but all cricketing nations to help each other so this game can grow. It’s important for the cricket fans in Pakistan and also for Pakistan cricket that countries start touring Pakistan.”

While three West Indies players – Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul – remained in the Caribbean on safety grounds, only Haris Sohail has declined the offer to face England.

Explaining the circumstances, Misbah said: “For Haris it was purely all about his family concerns.

“They were having concerns, so that’s why they were not convinced. He has to respect the family’s decision and he pulled out of this series. Except Haris, the others are fine. There are no concerns. Most of them have relatives and friends there, the situation is improving and they are much more satisfied with that and they are ready to do it.”

Misbah also passed on his best wishes to former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, who revealed on Twitter he had tested positive for the virus.

“My prayers are with him, all well wishes with him that he gets out of this soon,” said Misbah. “Throughout the Covid situation he was helping the poor, doing a very good job. I think he was doing a lot of work in the area of Balochistan and the northern areas just to help the people.”



Jamie Carragher’s latest column

My fear upon my retirement as a player – especially having spent so much time watching academy football – was there was a growing disconnection between youngsters, some who become multi-millionaires by their early 20s, and the fans they represent.

I no longer believe that. England’s current group of elite players are stronger, more independent and willing to take greater risks with their career than those before. This generation is not pampered. It is enlightened and pioneering.

You can read the full column here.


CRICKET: Afridi tests positive for Covid-19

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Saturday said he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“I’ve been feeling unwell since Thursday; my body had been aching badly. I’ve been tested and unfortunately I’m COVID positive. Need prayers for a speedy recovery,” Afridi, 40, wrote on Twitter.

The swashbuckling all-rounder played over 500 international games across all formats after making his debut in 1996.

Afridi’s last match for Pakistan was the defeat by Australia in the World Twenty20 in Mohali in March 2016.



What a finish in Dunedin!

A one-point thriller as Highlanders No 10 Bryn Gatland, the son of Chiefs coach Warren Gatland, lands a drop goal shortly before the finish for the Highlanders to win 28-27.


FOOTBALL: Leno calls for Arsenal to act as role models

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has called on his team mates to act as role models for racial equality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Floyd died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while detaining him on May 25. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder.

Several Premier League clubs have shown their support for protests against racism and police brutality.

Emi Martinez, Bernd Leno and Joe Willock of Arsenal take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter before the friendly match between Arsenal and Brentford 

Emi Martinez, Bernd Leno and Joe Willock of Arsenal take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter before the friendly match between Arsenal and Brentford 


“We as players have so many people looking up to us as idols. We have to show, as Arsenal, that we support you,” the 28-year-old Leno told Sky Sports.

“It is sad in 2020 we are still discussing these things, but this is the reality and we have to keep pushing on this. It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, we have to respect each other and everybody should have the same chances in life.”

The Premier League on Friday approved a proposal for player surnames to be replaced with the words “Black Lives Matter” on the back of their shirts as a tribute to the anti-racism movement.



Action from Dunedin

Highlanders' Aaron Smith (C) is tackled during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and Chiefs

Highlanders’ Aaron Smith (C) is tackled during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and Chiefs


Highlanders' Sio Tomkinson scores a try

Highlanders’ Sio Tomkinson scores a try



FOOTBALL: Restart talks came too early, says Moyes

West Ham United manager David Moyes has said it was the wrong time to discuss resuming the Premier League season when the United Kingdom was still gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professional soccer in England has been suspended since March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has caused over 41,000 deaths in the UK.

The government last month opened the door for elite sport to resume and the Premier League said it would restart its season on June 17.

“At the start of all this I thought integrity was being used in the wrong way,” Moyes told the Times.

“Some of the debate about coming back to football when there were so many people dying in hospitals and care homes. I thought it was the wrong time to be discussing the integrity of some football games. We had to wait for the right time.”

West Ham United manager David Moyes 

West Ham United manager David Moyes 


All 20 Premier League clubs on Thursday approved a range of matchday protocols for the season’s resumption but Moyes says there are lots of questions that still need to be answered.

“Has the bus driver been tested? If we are flying, has everyone been tested, when and by who? I don’t think we’ll get all the answers but we have to get on with it,” he added.



Half-time in Dunedin in the first game of Super Rugby Aotearoa

It’s been entertaining, with the Highlanders ahead 22-16 at half-time against the Chiefs at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, watched by thousands of fans.

Here’s Ben Coles guide to the five teams in the competition.


CRICKET: ECB vow to combat racism

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has acknowledged that the sport is not immune to systemic racism and says it will address the issue and try to bring “meaningful and long-term change” to the game.

Athletes across a range of sports have spoken out about racism after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis.

“We have listened carefully to those who have spoken out in recent weeks about their experiences of being black in cricket, sport and society,” the ECB said in a statement. “We admire them for being vocal on this crucial topic.

“We know that systemic racism spans institutions and sectors across the country and we know that our sport is not immune. We truly believe that cricket is a game for everyone but understand that sadly, barriers to its enjoyment exist for many communities.”

Former England batsman Michael Carberry said cricket was “rife with racism” while fast bowler James Anderson said the team will consider a joint anti-racism protest with West Indies during their three-test series next month.

Hampshire's England-capped batsman Michael Carberry

Hampshire’s England-capped batsman Michael Carberry


The ECB said they had made progress in bringing the game to more people and that they would “break down barriers and reform our structures”.

“We will now work to engage community leaders and black influencers within cricket so that we can review and evolve our existing inclusion and diversity work and specifically address the issues raised by the black community,” it added.

“From there, it is our overall desire to create demonstrable action, in order to deliver meaningful and long-term change that permeates every layer of the game.”


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