Rugby still has room for unorthodox magic to prevail in Six Nations | Robert Kitson

Stuart Barnes’ latest book is a timely reminder before the 2019 Six Nations of how the unexpected can be decisiveThe language of rugby has changed hugely in the past quarter of a century. What used to be a tackle is now a big hit and wingers have wheels or gas as opposed to pace. The term dummy scissors belongs in a museum, along with garryowens and argy-bargy. Naughty feet, game-changers, taking the learnings and going upstairs are rather more commonplace now than sidesteps, replacements, mud-baths or players drinking bottles of red to help them sleep better on the eve of major internationals.It partly explains why Stuart Barnes’s new book, Sketches from Memory, is such a thought-provoking read. As a commentator and pundit, few wrestle with rugby’s modern lexicon on a more regular basis than Barnesy, never one to employ a cliché where a smart literary reference might do instead. The former Bath and England fly-half writes as he once played: dull orthodoxy remains his sworn enemy. His latest tome, typically, is not just any old rugby book. From Bob Dylan to Bath and Shakespeare to Sky, there is something for everyone in its honest, trenchant revealing and, occasionally, poetic pages. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



David Vanecek wasn't at the races, says Hearts boss Levein after loss to Dundee

Craig Levein is "annoyed" striker David Vanecek "didn't turn up in better shape" after taking his January signing off early in the defeat by Dundee.

24-01-2019



Emiliano Sala: Missing Cardiff City footballer search continues

Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson have been missing since Monday.

24-01-2019



Australian Open: Serena Williams retreats after walkout mix-up

Serena Williams is forced to turn back as she walks on to court while her opponent, Simona Halep, is being announced to the crowd before their fourth-round match at the Australian Open.

24-01-2019



Paul Scholes says Class of 92 should have greater role at Manchester United

• Scholes surprised that only Nicky Butt works at United• Scholes feels ‘you’ve got your club back’ with SolskjærPaul Scholes believes it is “strange” that only Nicky Butt of the Class of 92 works at Manchester United, the former midfielder stating that Sir Alex Ferguson’s wish was for them all to have roles.Scholes was referring to himself, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Gary and Phil Neville together with Butt, who is the head of academy at United. Scholes went as far as to say that he had been left feeling unwelcome at United. The six own 60% of Salford City, following the announcement on Wednesday that Beckham has bought a 10% stake. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova on mental struggles after 2016 knife attack

Petra Kvitova thinks "not very many people believed" she could return to the top of the sport after she was hurt during a knife attack.

24-01-2019



Talking Horses: Dounikos can land valuable Thyestes Chase at Gowran

Gordon Elliott’s chaser can take the big betting race on a card that features the return of Gold Cup favourite Presenting PercyIt’s Thyestes Chase day at Gowran Park, reminding us all what fun it is to have a big race on a weekday. Apparently, it’s the race that stops a county. The day brings a slight pang of regret for me. As doubtless none of you will remember, I managed to pick the winner of the 2018 Thyestes when he was on offer at 6-1 and it was a source of comfort, on less successful days, to think: ‘Hey, but I found the right one in the Thyestes.’ Now that that’s fully a year ago, it might be time to give up on that particular security blanket. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Borussia Dortmund prepared to break transfer record to sign Wilfried Zaha

• Bundesliga leaders interested in Crystal Palace forward• Palace expected to demand more than £50m for ZahaBorussia Dortmund have expressed an interest in signing Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace in the summer, with the Bundesliga leaders prepared to smash their transfer record to sign the Ivory Coast international.Dortmund are understood to have already made contact with Zaha’s representatives as they attempt to find a replacement for Christian Pulisic, who joined Chelsea this month for £58m but will not arrive at Stamford Bridge until next season. Despite signing a new contract at Selhurst Park at the start of this season worth £130,000 a week that lasts until 2023, it is believed that the 26-year-old would be open to a move to Germany as he is keen to play in the Champions League. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Australian Open 2019: Naomi Osaka's power sets up final against Petra Kvitova

Osaka’s brutal hitting defeats Karolina Pliskova 6–2, 4–6, 6–4Kvitova unpicked surprise package Danielle Collins 7–6 6–0Naomi Osaka kept her hopes of winning back-to-back grand slam titles alive by dispatching Serena Williams’ conqueror Karolina Pliskova to reach the Australian Open final.Osaka produced a brutal display of power hitting under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, striking 56 winners in a 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory and will face Petra Kvitova on Saturday. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



The Fiver | One of the banner occasions in the football calendar

Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!It’s one of the banner occasions in the football calendar: the semi-finals of England’s secondary knockout competition, Tin Pot! There have been some memorable ties down the years. The Fiver recalls Chelsea beating Wycombe Wanderers 4-0. One time, West Brom saw off Carlisle 4-1. And there was that season Manchester City battered West Ham 9-0 on aggregate. But anyway, those memorable ties we were talking about. Well, we vaguely remember fourth-tier Bradford City humiliating five-time winners Aston Villa. The Arsenal-Tottenham stramash in 1987 was fairly epic. And … erm … actually, sod it, that’ll do. QED! Continue reading...

24-01-2019



The Spin | Alastair Cook should follow tone set by CMJ in the commentary box

Former England captain says he will refrain from personal criticism of players, but even a broadcaster as fair-minded as Christopher Martin-Jenkins could not always avoid controversyWhen Test Match Special announced that Alastair Cook would be lending his services to its non-ball-by-ball-coverage for two of the upcoming Caribbean Tests, the Spin thought immediately of another tall, reserved man whose gentle touch and warm voice anchored TMS for four decades.It seems unbelievable that it was just over six years ago (1 January 2013), that Christopher Martin-Jenkins slipped quietly away to his celestial Lord’s, at the age of 67, after suffering from cancer. His presence was always such a reassuring one that it wouldn’t be a surprise, even now, to switch on TMS and hear his sensible tones expressing some surprise at an outrageous choice of shot or an outre hairstyle. Something of the world at least would be back in its rightful place. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Neymar told 'don't complain when you get kicked' - PSG forward in tears after foot injury

Paris St-Germain forward Neymar told "don't go blubbering" after leaving the pitch in tears after suffering a fractured metatarsal

24-01-2019



Seething Sarri, Liverpool win again and a slide-tackling fan – Football Weekly

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Dominic Fifield and Ed Aarons discuss Chelsea, Liverpool’s win over Palace, Claude Puel’s future at Leicester, Spurs’ dramatic win and the Charlton fan who slide-tackled his own playerJoin the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.We start by discussing Saturday’s London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri questioning his team’s motivation following their 2-0 defeat. We then move on to Liverpool’s wild win over Crystal Palace, before turning our attentions to the potentially differing futures of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Claude Puel. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Ben Stokes’s five-ball burst underlines claims he is Flintoff’s heir apparent | Ali Martin

England all-rounder marks 50th cap by giving West Indies a taste of his indefatigable brawn and a natural ability to get the ball hoopingAt 9am the England supporters had swamped the public spaces outside the Kensington Oval, perusing the market stalls, taking on early fluids and jostling for pictures in front of the cover-driving statue of Sir Garfield Sobers.Inside the so-called mecca of Caribbean cricket another all-rounder was also being celebrated. In the pre-match huddle Ben Stokes received his 50th England cap from his former county teammate Steve Harmison, who once planted his personal flag in the region when blasting Michael Vaughan’s side to a series win in 2004. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian's sport coverage

With the best of our sports journalism from the past seven days and a heads-up on the weekend’s action, you won’t miss a thingLet our team of editors be your guide to the best of the Guardian’s award-winning sport coverage from the past week. We’ll email you the stand-out features and interviews, insightful analysis and highlights from the archive, plus films, podcasts, galleries and more – all arriving in your inbox at 12pm every Friday. And we’ll tee you up for the weekend and let you know our live coverage plans so you won’t miss a thing. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Victoria Pendleton reveals she considered taking her own life

• Former Olympic cyclist speaks about mental health issues• 38-year-old has ‘turned a corner’ after summer tormentFormer Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton has revealed she considered taking her own life last summer.The 38-year-old has previously spoken about her mental health issues and, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, has given a graphic account of how matters deteriorated. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Talking Horses: Too Darn Hot matches Frankel with two-year-old rating

John Gosden’s colt allotted rating of 126 – the same mark Frankel received at the end of his juvenile seasonToo Darn Hot’s exceptional form in his juvenile campaign last season has just received the official seal of approval from British Horseracing Authority’s handicappers, with John Gosden’s colt allotted a rating of 126 in the 2018 two-year-old classification – the same mark that Frankel received at the end of his juvenile season in 2010. No two-year-old has been given a higher mark since Xaar in 1997.Frankel was joint-top in the ratings eight years ago, alongside Dream Ahead, but Too Darn Hot is 5lb clear of Charlie Appleby’s Quorto, with the Middle Park Stakes winner, Ten Sovereigns, from the Aidan O’Brien stable in Ireland, another pound further back on 120 Michael Bell’s Pretty Pollyanna, on 116, is last season’s top-rated juvenile filly. Continue reading...

24-01-2019



'I had to dig deep': Novak Djokovic on overcoming injury woes – video

Novak Djokovic has discussed his long injury battle after reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open when Kei Nishikori retired hurt in their quarter-final.The World No 1 had failed to reach the last four in the past two editions of the tournament as he battled with an elbow problem, but is now bidding for a record seventh title in Melbourne.Djokovic will meet first-time grand slam semi-finalist Lucas Pouille for a place in Sunday's final.Lucas Pouille on coach Amélie Mauresmo – video Continue reading...

24-01-2019



Australian exit shows Serena Williams is haunted by trauma of US meltdown

Serena Williams has insisted she will ‘soldier on’ in search of slam glory but her quarter-final collapse against Karolina Pliskova posed questions about her emotional stateSerena Williams leaves Melbourne – and the rest of tennis – less certain about her future than her magnificent past, upset yet oddly resigned to the fact that what she hoped would be the extension of her comeback had unravelled in glorious confusion.In trying to rationalise the disappointment of falling three wins short of drawing alongside Margaret Court with a staggering 24 career majors, Williams moved with far more dexterity in the aftermath than she did while enduring a head-spinning collapse in the third set of her quarter-final against Karolina Pliskova. Continue reading...

24-01-2019