Monthly Archives: May 2019

Archer confirms round of NRL ref howlers

Referees boss Tony Archer has confirmed his charges made a number of officiating blunders in round 13 of the NRL last weekend.

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At the halfway point of the 2015 competition, the performances of the game’s whistleblowers continue to come under heavy criticism, brought about by a number of contentions decisions.

Among those was a try awarded to Wests Tigers utility Chris Lawrence in the second half of the joint venture’s loss to Gold Coast on Friday, a try to South Sydney three-quarter Bryson Goodwin early in the thumping of the Warriors in Perth on Saturday and a tackle on Josh Dugan in St George Illawarra’s loss to Canterbury on Monday.

In his weekly video address, Archer has confirmed that Goodwin’s try, before which he was run down by Shaun Johnson and appeared held, but was allowed to get up and play on by referees Jared Maxwell and Chris Butler and score, should not have been allowed.

“He was held,” Archer said.

“At that point he was tackled, there is still contact on the player on the ground.”

Archer also asserted that Josh Reynolds should have been penalised by referees Gerard Sutton and Chris James when the Bulldogs utility lifted Dugan in a tackle into the in-goal in a crucial period of Monday’s match.

“At that point of time when Reynolds extended his leg he should have called held and if Reynolds continued it would be a penalty,” Archer said.

Just as contentious was Lawrence’s four-pointer late at Leichhardt Oval, awarded despite fullback James Tedesco appearing to knock the ball on in the lead up.

Archer stopped short of saying the right decision was made, instead mounting an unconvincing case for why the try was awarded after the on-field referee motioned with the ‘T’ try sign before sending the decision upstairs.

“I understand why the video referee didn’t have sufficient evidence to overturn that,” he said.

“I understand how they came up with that decision.”

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Origin return on Ferguson’s mind

Ferguson’s only hope of adding to his one appearance for NSW will be in game three next month after the right foot fracture playing for the Sydney Roosters ruled him out of the opening two matches.

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On Tuesday, the 25-year-old was named to return in the centres against the Warriors on Saturday in his first match back since March.

Although changes to the Blues side will depend heavily on how they fare at the MCG next Wednesday in game two, Ferguson will nonetheless have an additional two matches against St George Illawarra and the Gold Coast Titans – on top of the clash with the Warriors – to prove to NSW coach Laurie Daley he’s worthy of a call-up.

“It was good to watch it (Origin I), it made me more hungry to give it a shot,” said Ferguson, whose made his Origin debut in 2013.

After undergoing foot surgery, Ferguson’s initial diagnosis was that he would be out for four months.

However intense rehabilitation, including a two-week trip to the United States to consult with Philadelphia-based specialist Bill Knowles, helped him return to the training paddock well ahead of schedule.

“It was more about how to use all my body parts instead of just using my foot and just making sure a recurrence of the same injury doesn’t happen,” Ferguson said.

“It was very intense, I was training five hours a day, a few sessions a day.

“It was intense but enjoyable at the same time. I was learning new techniques and it was one-on-one, it wasn’t like there was a whole team there, it was just me and Bill Knowles doing our thing.”

Ferguson said he was close to making his comeback over the last two weeks but will make a timely return with the Roosters missing their representative stars this weekend.

He hopes to pick up where he left off given at the time of his injury – suffered against Canberra in round four – he was showing signs of discovering his form of old.

“The way I set up the start of the year was just to build my game on my defence,” he said.

“And I thought I did that and I felt before I got injured I started attacking a lot better and I was getting through the game a lot easier.”

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Croatia and Italy clash in empty stadium

In what would have attracted a full house in Croatia’s Adriatic resort of Split, the top-of-the-table Group H fixture comes as an anti-climax much to the dismay of the home team’s coach Niko Kovac.

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“It is tragic for our soccer and the people that no fans will be allowed into the ground,” Kovac told the Croatian Football Association website.

“Hence it won’t be an enjoyable event but there will be no excuses if we don’t get a result.

“Under the circumstances, I’d be happy with a draw, especially in view of the fact that we will miss injured (midfielder) Luka Modric and (defender) Vedran Corluka through suspension.”

The Croatians were handed a one-match crowd ban after racist chants by their fans during a 5-1 home win over Norway in March, which came on the back of incidents they caused during a 1-1 draw against Italy in Milan last November.

The match in the San Siro stadium was twice halted after visiting Croatia fans hurled flares on to the pitch.

Kovac could be tempted to field an adventurous 4-4-2 formation by partnering Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric to Mario Mandzukic up front, while Modric’s absence could unleash Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic into a free role in midfield.

Italy coach Antonio Conte faces a selection headache as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and midfielder Marco Verratti are doubtful.

Buffon is struggling with a left elbow injury he sustained against Barcelona in the Champions League final while Verratti picked up a knock on his left calf in training.

“Croatia are a very good team and they proved it at the San Siro but we have to qualify,” Conte told the Italian football federation.

“We’re working on a different formation (to our preferred 3-5-2), we need to play a system that fits the personnel.”

Fatigue after a long club season could also be a factor at both ends but Croatia’s Dynamo Kiev defender Domagoj Vida is confident the home side can take a big step towards next year’s finals in France.

“Exhaustion goes out the window for a big game like this, it’s the group’s derby and we are confident as we’ve had a very good campaign so far,” said Vida.

Croatia top the group with 13 points from five games, followed by Italy on 11.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Justin Palmer)

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Aston Villa CEO says Dyke’s quota plan lacks support

Dyke, the Football Association chairman, has proposed raising the number of English players in club squads from the current eight to 12 in a move to be phased over four years from 2016.

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Former England and club managers have supported the proposals, designed to improve the national team’s performance, but Fox said that was not the case at boardroom level.

“I am not supportive of it (the quota proposal) and, to be frank, I don’t think I’ve spoken to a counterpart within the Premier League that is supportive of it,” he told a Sport Industry Breakfast Club meeting.

“I don’t think that system leads to the desired outcome, in fact I think it probably leads to the exact opposite outcome,” added the American.

“What could happen is some of our best players at 13, 14, 15, 16 get poached because it’s much easier to take them at that age than to buy them as a fully formed star, decimating the academy system and making really my academy system not financially viable.”

Fox also questioned the reasoning behind the proposal.

Dyke set up the England Commission in 2013 to look at ways of improving the chances of young English talent to succeed at the highest levels.

The Commission identified a lack of quality coaching and opportunities for home-grown players to play competitive first team football between the ages of 18 and 21.

“I still look at it and wonder what the issue is. I watched the (2014) World Cup as everybody did,” said Fox.

“There were 11 starting Premier League players on the pitch for England and the bench was filled with starting Premier League players.

“There’s something else that’s not right if the United States, which had one current Premier League player in Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey who has left the league, makes it past the group stages and England doesn’t.”

Fox, whose club has provided a stream of England internationals, suggested playing regularly against the world’s top talent in the Premier League was “far more important for development than creating some artificial quota system.

“I think…there needs to be better coaching and development at a younger age. I don’t think the quota system is a goer,” he added.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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England rugby boss denies behaviour issues

As Prince Harry prepared to launch the Rugby World Cup trophy on the final leg of its global tour, the British royal listed the perceived attributes that makes rugby stand out from other sports.

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“Rugby is a game built on values, respect, discipline,” said the prince, in front of hundreds of flag-waving school kids at Twickenham, the home of English rugby.

Someone perhaps needs to tell this to members of England’s rugby squad.

Reviving memories of the team’s ill-fated World Cup campaign in 2011, England’s preparations for its home tournament four years on have been dogged by incidents of misbehaviour – on and off the field – that will deprive the squad of two, perhaps three, of its most high-profile players.

Powerful centre Manu Tuilagi, identified by England coaches as the team’s most valuable attacking weapon, was ruled out of the World Cup after being convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and two female police officers on a night out in April.

Hooker Dylan Hartley, the most capped player in the squad, was dropped for head-butting an opponent in his latest on-field indiscretion that took his career tally of suspensions to 54 weeks.

With flyhalf Danny Cipriani’s World Cup hopes also in the balance after being arrested on suspicion of drunk-driving, England coach Stuart Lancaster has an ever-increasing rap sheet on his hands.

Wednesday marked 100 days to go until the World Cup, and was a chance for organisers to highlight how prepared they were for the biggest global sports tournament in 2015.

Yet, one topic dominated the agenda.

“It’s sad that the opportunity of a lifetime we’ve been talking about today, some of the players are going to miss it,” said Ian Ritchie, chief executive of England’s Rugby Football Union.

“I don’t think there’s an underlying problem. The culture that’s been engendered over the last three years (under Lancaster) will come through during the course of the tournament. I know all of the players in the squad recognise their responsibilities and what an important year this will be.”

Has the misbehaviour of Hartley and Tuilagi set England back?

“I don’t think anything that’s occurred dilutes that, one jot,” Ritchie said.

Sitting across from Ritchie was Jonny Wilkinson, one of England’s greatest players and the flyhalf who dropped the goal that won the team the Rugby World Cup in 2003 against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Wilkinson was known for his commitment and unstinting work ethic, and never got in any trouble on or off the field. Yet he understands the traps that modern-day players can fall into because of the likes of social media and phone cameras, and said the pressure will ramp up the closer the World Cup gets.

“Players’ private lives aren’t quite what they were but it’s just the interpretation of things, how people can read anything into what they see,” Wilkinson said.

“Stuart has got his rules, and has set the culture and the standards he wants, and is sticking to them, which I think is the right thing to do.”

Two million tickets have been sold for the tournament, raising STG200 million ($A400.12 million) and organisers said they have raised more than the STG80 million ($A160.05 million) pounds it costs to host the tournament.

Half a million rugby fans are expected to travel to England and Wales for a World Cup which is on track to be the best-attended and most-viewed in its 28-year history.

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