Women’s Rugby World Cup : no longer a two-horse race between England and New Zealand

England prepare to face Samoa in opening game of a much more competitive Women’s World Cup believing that they can finally beat four-times champions New Zealand


England open Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign against Samoa in Paris, armed in equal measure with the belief that they can finally end the hegemony of four-times champions New Zealand and a warning that the tournament is no longer merely a two-horse race.

England and New Zealand have contested the last three finals, most recently at the Twickenham Stoop in 2010 when Gary Street’s side narrowly lost 13-10 as the Black Ferns claimed their fourth successive title.

Yet the days when the early stages of the World Cup used to effectively serve as a warm-up act before the pair met each other in the final appear to be over.

The landscape of the women’s game has altered dramatically over the last four years, as greater funding and the inclusion of Sevens in the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 has help significantly broaden the base of the international game.

The main surge has come in the northern hemisphere. England surrendered their grip over the Six Nations to first Ireland in 2013 and then France this year while the United States and Canada are also regarded as genuine contenders for the 12-team tournament in Paris.

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Glasgow 2014: Greg Rutherford leaps to Commonwealth gold

Greg Rutherford added Commonwealth long jump gold to his Olympic title to claim England’s first athletics gold of these Glasgow Games.


Rutherford, who won silver in Delhi four years ago, had an epidural injection in the build-up to make it to qualifying after pulling out of the Diamond League event here with injury.

But after his first round 8.12 metres was matched by South Africa’s Zarck Visser, his championship pedigree told as he produced a third round 8.20m to snatch a lead that none of his rivals could threaten.

Rutherford, who has endured a difficult time since London 2012 – struggling with hamstring injuries, losing his kit sponsor and failing to qualify for the World Championship final a year ago – used the support of a home crowd as well as he had two years ago on a cool night far from ideal for jumping.

“It’s never an easy road, and after what happened last year with injury I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to carry on jumping. But now I’ve managed to win another title and that’s what it’s all about for me,” he told BBC Sport afterwards.

“I think a lot of people had written me off thinking I was a one-hit wonder. But I wanted to prove I could do it again.

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Premiership : Southampton : Ryan Bertrand joins from Chelsea on season-long loan

Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand has become Southampton’s third summer signing as they rebuild after selling five players for £92m.


The 24 year-old has joined on a season-long loan but, according to the Press Association, there is an option to make the deal permanent for up to £10m.

Saints have already signed striker Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord and midfielder Dusan Tadic from FC Twente.

“I’m very happy to be able to bring Ryan in,” manager Ronald Koeman said.

“I spoke to him on Monday afternoon and I was very impressed with his attitude and how keen he was to play games for Southampton.”

Bertrand has been at Chelsea since 2006 but has only made 28 league appearances for them and spent the second half of last season on loan at Aston Villa.

He was famously selected in the starting XI when the Blues won the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in 2012.

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Premiership : Romelu Lukaku : Everton sign Chelsea striker for £28m

Everton have signed Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku for a club record £28m.


The 21-year-old Belgian World Cup forward, who scored 16 goals on loan at Everton last season, has signed a five-year contract at Goodison Park.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez said: “This signing is not just important for this season. It is a significant day in the history of this football club.”

Lukaku joined Chelsea from Anderlecht for £18m in August 2011 but played only 15 games for the club.

After signing his contract at Goodison, Lukaku said: “I’m 21, I need to be playing in a good team. I needed to be in a place that felt right.

“I decided very quickly I wanted to come back. This is the place I belong.”

Lukaku’s transfer breaks the previous record of £15m for Marouane Fellaini when he joined Everton from Standard Liege in 2008

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Tennis : Rafael Nadal faces three weeks on sidelines with wrist injury

Rafael Nadal has suffered a wrist injury less than a month before the start of the US Open in New York.


The Spaniard, the reigning champion at Flushing Meadows, will be out of action for two to three weeks after hurting his right wrist in training on Tuesday.

Nadal, 28, has pulled out of defending his titles in Toronto and Cincinnati as he targets a return to fitness in time for the US Open, starting on 25 August.

“I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my titles,” he said.

Nadal has not competed since his shock defeat by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round at Wimbledon on 1 July.

The defence of his crowns in Toronto and Cincinnati were key hard-court season warm-ups ahead of the US Open, where Nadal will go in search of a 15th career Grand Slam crown.

“Unfortunately I injured my right wrist on Tuesday during practice,” the world number two confirmed.

“After the tests I have undergone in Spain, including an MRI and checking with my doctors, I will have to stay out of competition for at least two to three weeks.”

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Glasgow 2014: England win double gymnastics team gold

England’s women emulated the achievement of their male team-mates by winning gold in the gymnastics team final at the Commonwealth Games.


Rebecca Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Ruby Harrold, Hannah Whelan and Kelly Simm held off Australia to win, with Wales putting in a superb display for bronze.

Earlier, Louis Smith, Sam Oldham, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock and Nile Wilson won the men’s title.

Scotland finished second to secure their first major team medal.

Dan Keatings, Dan Purvis, Frank Baines, Adam Cox and Liam Davie scored 257.603, with England’s 266.804 enough for victory.

However, Oldham missed England’s final two rotations after falling in the vault.

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Premiership : Ross Barkley: Everton midfielder signs new four-year contract

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has signed a four-year contract extension with the club.


The 20-year-old scored six Premier League goals last season and was part of the England squad at the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Manager Roberto Martinez said: “It is a four-year deal which reflects his new role and his development. This is as big news as we could get.

“He is still a young man but is a massive part of our squad.”

Barkley made his debut for Everton at the start of the 2011-12 season and had loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United before becoming a first-team regular under Martinez last season.

He made his England debut against Moldova in September 2013 and made three appearances at the World Cup.

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Glasgow 2014 : Kemar Bailey-Cole takes 100m title for Jamaica as Adam Gemili claims silver

Third straight Commonwealth triumph for Caribbean island while English sprinter stays just outside 10-second barrier after beating Nickel Ashmeade in to third place


So, the Jamaican supremacy in Commonwealth 100 metres finals continues, as Kemar Bailey-Cole brought a third straight triumph for the Caribbean island with a brilliant run for gold in 10 seconds dead, but this was a night that also marked the coming of age for England’s Adam Gemili.

The 20-year-old had stated that his ambition was simply to reach the final but he did better, far better, in claiming a silver medal that suggests his longer-team target of winning a medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 is very much intact.

At just 22, Bailey-Cole has understood his capacity to be a superstar ever since he formed part of Jamaica’s triumphant sprint relay team at London 2012, and duly confirmed it with this fabulous display. Coach Glen Mills has billed him as the country’s next pre-eminent star, even drawing the first tentative comparisons with Usain Bolt.

But Gemili deserved immense praise for the way he split the Jamaican triumvirate of Bailey-Cole, Nickel Ashmeade and Jason Livermore to finish second after a lightning-fast start. His time of 10.10 sec might mean he is still to break the elusive 10-second barrier, but on his present trajectory that, too, must surely come soon.

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Premiership : Calum Chambers completes transfer to Arsenal from Southampton

Ars¨ne Wenger hopes teenager’s versatility will help justify a large fee for a player who has made just 18 Premier League starts


Arsenal have signed full-back Calum Chambers from Southampton for an undisclosed fee, the London club have announced.

Chambers, 19, continues the exodus of players from St Mary’s after agreeing a “long-term” contract with the Gunners.

“Calum has a lot of the attributes that we look for in a young player. I’m sure he will do well with us,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told the club’s official website.

Chambers, who can also play at centre-back, accumulated 22 appearances for Saints last season after making his Premier League debut on the opening day of the campaign.

“We are very pleased that Calum has agreed to join us,” Wenger said.

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Premiership : Loic Remy could not have failed a medical at Liverpool, says QPR manager Harry Redknapp

Queens Park Rangers manager says Liverpool must have changed their minds on the transfer and wants France striker to stay at Loftus Road next season


Harry Redknapp is refusing to believe that Lo¯c R©my’s move toLiverpool collapsed on medical grounds.

Liverpool dramatically pulled out of their £8.5 million move to sign R©my, with the Queens Park Rangers striker understood to have failed a medical.

But QPR manager Redknapp insists R©my could not have failed a medical and claims there must be a different reason for Liverpool going cold on the deal.

There have been suggestions that Fabio Borini’s desire to stay at Anfield resulted in Liverpool going cold on 27-year-old R©my.

“It can’t be a medical reason because he (R©my) never failed a medical, I just can’t believe what I’ve read and heard,” said Redknapp.

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