The NRL’s coronavirus biosecurity bubble has been burst nine times in just four days, forcing the code’s bosses to offer a stern and final warning to misbehaving players and coaches.
ARLC boss Peter V’Landys says “people are being selfish” in breaching coronavirus bubble regulations
Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the league would take “the strongest action possible” in future
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the breaches were “incredibly frustrating”
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’Landys said harsher punishments were on the way for those breaking the rules, while warning the league’s arrangement with the Queensland Government “could be withdrawn any day”.
“We will increase financial penalties to act as a deterrent because these people are being selfish,” V’Landys said.
“It’s concerning because the whole competition is at stake.”
Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the league would take “the strongest action possible” against any offending member of the bubble.
Those found to be breaking the rules are placed into lockdown for 14 days and could face fines.
Bennett is on the Project Apollo board, which created the biosecurity protocols.
“It’s not ideal to lose your coach for a couple of weeks but he [Bennett] knows now that what he did was wrong,” Souths player Campbell Graham said.
“Everyone is in the same boat and the rules are clear now, but it does get a bit confusing with the chopping and changing of rules.”
The rules were somewhat relaxed in June, but more strict restrictions were reinstated in July when cases rose in the eastern states.
Despite some alleged confusion, the NRL insists the majority are doing the right thing.
Queensland has been the life-raft for the NRL during the pandemic. The Queensland Government has hosted the Melbourne Storm for months, and has given players exemptions to travel interstate.
But this recent spate of errors threatens to derail that agreement.
“I’m satisfied that management is dealing with this very, very seriously — I am not satisfied that the players understand the seriousness,” Dr Jeanette Young, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, said on Monday.
Rugby League isn’t forgetting that goodwill is strictly conditional.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the breaches were “incredibly frustrating because Queenslanders are doing the right thing and this puts at risk all that great work”.
There are still seven rounds to go before finals in this irregular season.
Fulham made an immediate return to the Premier League as two extra-time goals from full-back Joe Bryan gave them a 2-1 win over Brentford in the Championship playoff final at an empty Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.
Fulham were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2018/19 season
Bryan opened the scoring near the end of the first period of extra time when he spotted Brentford goalkeeper David Raya out of position and anticipating a cross from his deep free-kick before cleverly driving the ball into the bottom corner.
The Spanish keeper was slow to react, once Bryan had opted to shoot, but the lead was a deserved one for Scott Parker’s side, who had the better of what had been a cagey 90 minutes.
Bryan made sure of the victory with a second goal three minutes from the end of the second period of extra time, clipping home from close range after a burst forward down the left and quick exchange with substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Henrik Dalsgaard pulled a goal back for Brentford in the final seconds but there was no time for a recovery by the Bees, who were searching for a place in the top flight for the first time since 1947.
Fulham join Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion in earning promotion from England’s second tier.
COVID-19 related restrictions meant no fans were at Wembley to witness Fulham’s triumph but Bryan still had a night to remember.
“I’m not the hero,” said the full back, as his teammates celebrated a return to the Premier League just a year after relegation — an achievement worth around 135 million pounds ($246 million) over three years for the west London club.
“Every single one of them boys, players, staff, supporters, everything’s been with us all season, it’s been absolutely unbelievable,” added Bryan.
“We’ve been written off, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 times. I think I even read somewhere that we were supposed to be scared of them, but we took it to them, we scored twice. They made it hard for us.”
It was a bitterly disappointing end to the season for Brentford, the division’s highest scorers with 80 goals in the regular season, who lost at home to lowly Barnsley on the final day of the campaign, when a win would have earned promotion.
Brentford’s Danish manager, Thomas Frank, was disappointed but still able to put the season into some perspective.
“Of course it is tough when you lose a final like this in a tight game. But we have gone from a mid-table club to a team who, in the league table, was the third-best team,” he said.
“We are very fine margins away from the Premier League, which is an incredible achievement from us.”
Former Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn has hailed Lewis Hamilton’s British grand prix win, on three wheels and a flat tyre, as “absolutely mind-blowing”.
Despite shredding his left front tyre on the final lap, Lewis Hamilton held on to win the British F1 grand prix by just 5.856 seconds
Data released by his Mercedes team shows he pushed his car to the limit, going at up to 141kph into corners on the last lap
His former boss at Mercedes, Ross Brawn, said Hamilton “judged it to perfection”
Hamilton’s front left tyre deflated on the last lap while leading Sunday’s race, leaving the six-times Formula One champion 3.8km from the finish with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen chasing hard after pitting for fresh soft tyres.
Data provided by Mercedes showed Hamilton completed the final lap only 22 seconds slower than he had raced the previous one.
He went through the high-speed Copse and Stowe corners with the puncture at 141kph and 133kph respectively and reached 230kph on the Hangar Straight with the front tyre already destroyed.
“Lewis’s race looked a cakewalk until the last lap of the race. It wasn’t of course, because he was driving superbly for the whole of the race,” said Brawn, Formula One’s managing director for motorsport.
“He reached 230kph on the straight with only three wheels, and a front left tyre flailing around. Absolutely mind blowing.
“He judged it to perfection to win the race by a few seconds and a brilliant example of the amazing talents and bravery of Lewis.”
Tyre manufacturers Pirelli are conducting an investigation into what happened, and whether sharp debris or wear was to blame, with Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz also suffering late failures.
Hamilton now leads the championship by 30 points from Bottas, with three wins from the four races held so far in 2020.
Verstappen lies third on 52 points — but he could have been 14 points better off if he had not pitted, as he would likely have passed Hamilton for the lead and the taken 25 points for victory, instead of the 18 for second place.
It’s just gone midnight on a Sunday night. There’s work tomorrow. School. You should be in bed.
Instead, you — along with 18.5 million other people around the country — cannot drag yourself away from your TV.
On the box is playing the 1985 World Championships Snooker final between reigning champion Steve Davis and outside-shot Dennis Taylor, a match that has gone down as being one of Britain’s greatest sporting moments.
At its best, snooker is an addictive, geometric dance of balletic precision, featuring expert cueing and tactical nous.
The sport’s flagship event, the World Championships, got underway in Sheffield this weekend and in doing so became one of the first events to welcome back crowds in England since the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Snooker has been a bastion of British sporting television since the championships moved to the Crucible Theatre in 1977.
In 1985 though, the sport was the hottest ticket in town, so much so the World Championships final became one of the most watched sporting events in British television history — with millions tuning in to the closing stages after midnight.
Snooker was big business throughout the 80s, pulling massive TV audiences and making genuine stars of the top players.
In an interview with the BBC, Taylor remembers snooker being “bigger than any other sport, even football and golf” in the mid-80s, with the players becoming household names — even featuring in pop songs of dubious provenance.
The reason for this was circumstance and visibility.
“There was only four channels, something like that, to watch,” Taylor said, “so everyone seemed to watch [snooker].”
Davis went even further, describing snooker’s popularity during that era as “stupid”.
“[There was] a trapped audience, nobody had anything to do on a Sunday evening, Sunday afternoon, [so] they sat and watched the snooker.
What was the 1985 final so enthralling?
The enduring appeal of the 1985 final comes from the myriad of storylines that developed during its playing.
The 11th seed and clear underdog, Taylor — complete with a unique set of glasses that left you in no doubt which decade you were in — found himself 8-0 down in the blink of an eye as Davis, who would win six World Championships in nine years during the 80s, dominated.
However, a missed green in the ninth frame handed Taylor an opening and, buoyed by the fervent support of a crowd desperate for more action, fought back strongly.
Over two gruelling days’ play, the pair traded blows, sending the match into a deciding, 35th frame.
That final frame took over an hour to complete — 68 minutes of the most gruelling, high-pressure sporting action you can imagine — the enthralled audience at home and in the room seemingly oblivious to the fact that Sunday had turned into Monday.
Later, Davis described the final frame as “a trauma” — and not just because of how it ended for him, but for how much pressure the players were under.
“Nerves have now taken over,” said BBC commentator Ted Lowe when Davis missed a regulation blue mid-way through that marathon final frame, a miss typical of the contest in the closing stages.
Incredibly, after 14 hours and 50 minutes of game time, the match came down to the final ball of the final frame — the only time this has happened in World Snooker history.
After potting the pink, Taylor, now trailing in the final frame by just three points, went over to the World Championship trophy and prayed in an attempt to summon some last-minute divine inspiration.
The final ball created drama though, with both players missing their mark amidst the suffocating tension.
An attempted double in off the cushion from Taylor missed the centre pocket by millimetres, Lowe muttering, “I have never known an atmosphere like this,” as the crowd struggled to contain themselves.
Taylor appeared to throw caution to the wind, attempting outlandish shots as playing safely was put on the backburner.
Leaving a tough, but gettable pot to win, Taylor’s chance appeared to have gone, only for Davis to fluff his lines.
“No,” a surprised Lowe said, the crowd roaring for the penultimate time as Taylor was left with a straight-forward pot to finish the match.
Taylor did sink the black, prompting an eruption of unbridled joy from the enraptured crowd.
The then-36-year-old brandished his cue above his head, before wagging a knowing finger at his supporters and kissing the most coveted trophy in the sport.
Will there ever be a communal viewing experience like that again?
The Black Ball Final is still the most watched post-midnight program of any show in UK television history.
That 18.5 million was a third of the United Kingdom’s population at the time.
To put those viewing figures into some perspective, the 1985 Live Aid concert — a once-in-a-lifetime event that took place throughout an afternoon — earned the BBC a TV audience of 24.5 million.
Admittedly a similar percentage of the population watched England’s 2016 World Cup defeat to Croatia, which was the highest rating British TV program in 2018 — but that happened in prime time, not after midnight.
In contrast, the highest rating Australian sporting event on TV in 2018, game one of State of Origin, was watched by just 13 per cent of the population.
Both players said that it was unlikely anything like that would ever happen again.
“I think it’s because of the choice nowadays.” Taylor told the BBC.
“When you think of the viewing figures they used to get … nowadays you get four or five million people tuning in for any sporting event it’s big numbers because of the choice that people have.”
Davis argued the same, saying that there is too much choice now.
“That can’t necessarily happen again anywhere now that there are multiple television channels.”
An unmatched viewing experience
That people are still talking about that match in such reverent tones 35 years on speaks volumes of snooker’s enduring, albeit slightly nostalgic appeal.
In an era where you can watch everything from wood chopping to competitive pizza tossing on ESPN (yes, really), it’s perhaps not surprising that the game’s grip on the public consciousness has slipped ever so slightly.
“[Snooker] was ideally placed as great theatre,” Davis said.
Ideal lockdown-viewing, perhaps.
That the World Championships is being used as a guinea pig for fans to attend the UK’s sporting COVID-19 recovery is perhaps incongruous considering its history as a television product.
Five-time World Champion, the enigmatic Ronnie O’Sullivan, is not a fan of fans being allowed in.
“I just think it’s an unnecessary risk [to have spectators].
“I just don’t think you want to be putting people’s lives at risk. You look at the NHS and you think ‘this is like a war at the moment … anything to take the stress off them is paramount’.”
But with attendances capped at a third of capacity, just 300 fans, the vast majority will, once again, be glued to their screens instead.
And, in the chastened circumstances the world finds itself in at the present time, that may be no bad thing, although the likelihood of any match this year matching the interest of that 1985 final is remote.
Davis, who would go on to win the next two World Championship titles and become known as one of the greatest of all time, said the contest helped define him.
“The fact that I was involved in something where so many people remember what they were doing and where they were when they were watching it, you know, wow.”
Toby Greene has reignited GWS’s hunt for a maiden AFL premiership, booting five goals to deliver the Giants a 12-point win over Richmond in a much closer contest than last year’s grand final.
Toby Greene kicked a goal in every quarter against Richmond
The Giants had lost four of their last six matches heading into the Tigers clash
Both sides paid respect to former Richmond player Shane Tuck, who died on Monday aged 38
GWS, desperate to make a statement after slipping to 13th on the ladder, were far from faultless but dug deep to prevail 9.8 (62) to 6.14 (50) at Giants Stadium in Sydney.
Greene, who was returning from a sore shin, kicked at least goal in every quarter to be best on ground.
Last year’s Norm Smith medallist Dustin Martin ignited a third-quarter comeback by the Tigers with two quick goals, while Shai Bolton threatened to snatch victory for the visitors in a frantic final quarter.
But it was Greene who fittingly delivered the sealer for GWS with just over five minutes remaining in the contest, crumbing what proved to be the only goal in the fourth term.
Lachie Whitfield, who was shifted off the wing and unleashed as a rebounding defender, and Josh Kelly were also important for the hosts.
But Greene and his fellow forwards showed why some pundits feel they can challenge for a flag in 2020.
Momentum shifted frequently and violently in this grand final re-match, with the third quarter proving a perfect snapshot of the topsy-turvy tussle.
The Giants kicked away to a 27-point lead when Greene out-bodied Dylan Grimes, marked a rainmaker and kicked the resultant goal, which was his fourth for the night.
The Tigers responded with three goals in nine minutes, including a gift for Martin when Heath Shaw put the ball out on the full, to trim the Giants’ buffer to eight points at three-quarter time.
Bolton, youngster Jake Aarts and key forward Tom Lynch then missed opportunities for Richmond before Greene stepped up to ice the match
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick will take heart from the fact he will recall hamstrung captain Trent Cotchin for Wednesday’s clash with Western Bulldogs and ideally six other premiership players before the finals.
The win minus stars such as Hodgson, Michael Oldfield, John Bateman and Curtis Scott to name a few will sit as one of the most gritty in the Raiders’ storied history.
Josh Papalii’s size and agility gave the Raiders the go-ahead try in the 66th minute, as the prop jinked through the defence untouched.
It was try-for-try before Papalii burst through the Roosters’ line from 20 metres out to score, breaking through Mitch Aubusson and Lindsay Collins to get the Raiders in front by four points.
It was a lead they would grimly hold on to as their defence remained defiant.
Earlier, with scores level at 12-all, the Raiders were penalised when Papalii retaliated to an elbow to the face from Angus Crichton, while he struggled to play the ball.
With a bloody nose, the Queensland prop laid a forearm around Crichton’s face and was penalised in front of the posts for his trouble, allowing the Roosters to go ahead by two points.
Crichton was lucky to escape unpunished after earlier giving away a penalty for a high shot on Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton, with the Raiders scoring in the next set.
Brett Morris, who scored two tries for the Roosters, also copped a pair of tough knocks, which landed both Wighton and halves partner George Williams on report.
On the other edge for the Roosters, twin brother Josh Morris got in on the action when he delivered a brilliant flick pass for Matt Ikuvalu to score and snatch back the lead in the 58th minute, the last of points scored by the Roosters.
Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Ms Palaszczuk said “it was only fair” Queensland be considered to host the major annual sporting event.
“If we are doing the heavy-lifting we would like to be considered for a grand final — I think that’s only fair,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
The Premier said she spoke with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on the phone yesterday and told him Queensland would love to host the final.
“But, of course, it’s going to depend on what’s happening in the other states during that time and we will enter those negotiations seriously.
“We firmly believe that Queensland could host it here.”
She said the relocation of the AFL season to the Sunshine State was “a huge win for Queensland”.
“We’re more than happy to step up and help.”
She said she’s “very confident” in the state’s ability to host Victorian teams and manage coronavirus infection rates.
“We have an industry plan with the AFL and most Victorian teams aren’t in Victoria at the moment,” she said.
“We’re very confident and we’re putting in place all the measures too in case there is an outbreak in Queensland.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he’s open to the possibility of having premiership fixtures in North Queensland while Victorian teams base themselves in the Sunshine State for up to 10 weeks to avoid COVID-19.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he understood all Victorian AFL teams would be based at the Gold Coast.
“That’s the word from AFL to me, all the teams will be up here,” Mr Tate said.
ButThuringowa Bulldogs Football Club president Anthony Burke said Townsville has the facilities, including the Riverway Stadium.
“They played a game here last year and the response we’ve had from the AFL clubs has been outstanding in terms of wanting to come back,” he said.
“The economic off-spin that we have is people playing our game, becoming members of our clubs,” Mr Burke said.
Mr Burke said having more AFL activity in Townsville could encourage more locals to join the code.
Mayor Jenny Hill said she will be pushing for Townsville to host teams and games.
Former Victorian premier and president of the Hawthorn football club, Jeff Kennett said while there’s an air-tight contract in place for the grand final to be played at the MCG, that could change if spectators aren’t able to attend the match.
“If we are still unable to assemble for a game of football, being the grand final, I think you’d find the powers that be would relieve the AFL so they could play the competition elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, the Sunshine Coast has also expressed interest in hosting more players and games.
Both the AFL’s St Kilda team and the NRL’s Melbourne Storm have relocated to Noosa in an effort to escape the unfolding coronavirus outbreak in Victoria.
Visit Sunshine Coast boss Craig Davidson said the region would benefit if more staff and players come to stay.
“I’d love to see a number of teams based up here. I’m sure other regions are thinking the same thing,” he said.
“We have fantastic facilities to host teams like that.
“We could host a number of teams here quite comfortably, and service those teams and give them everything they need to be comfortable here.”
A grand final re-match between Richmond and GWS will highlight round eight of the AFL, as the league forecasts more matches in “non-traditional” timeslots this year.
The Giants will host the Tigers in Sydney in a Friday night encounter
The Dockers and Cats will play on the Monday night in Perth
The Hawks and Blues will relocate to Perth at the end of round eight
The AFL confirmed Monday night football will continue for the foreseeable future in a bid to complete a 153-match home-and-away season, with round eight scheduled to wrap up with a Fremantle-Geelong clash in Perth on July 27.
The round begins on a Thursday night when Gold Coast hosts the Western Bulldogs in Carrara on July 23, with the Giants and Tigers facing off in Sydney in the popular Friday night timeslot.
Premiership contenders West Coast and Collingwood are slated to meet at Perth Stadium on July 26.
Other matches in round eight include North Melbourne-Carlton, Sydney-Hawthorn, Port Adelaide-St Kilda, Adelaide-Essendon and Melbourne-Brisbane.
The Monday night fixture between the Dockers and Cats follows on from the round-seven meeting of Adelaide and St Kilda in the same slot.
Travis Auld, the league’s general manager of clubs and broadcasting, said matches would continue to be played outside the traditional Friday to Sunday time frame, as the league attempted to squeeze in matches within various state government restrictions.
“I would like to thank the clubs and players, who continue to embrace the unique challenges the season continues to throw up,” he said.
“As we set ourselves for the next few weeks, our upcoming block of matches from round nine will feature non-traditional timeslots as we look to compress some additional games into the fixture.”
Hawthorn and Carlton will travel to Western Australia immediately following their respective matches in round eight.
Both clubs will quarantine for 14 days in Perth and will play each other in round nine.
The newswire division of Australian Associated Press is set to continue to operate with new owners.
AAP’s board on Friday confirmed that an agreement was in the final stages of negotiation with a consortium of investors and philanthropists led by Peter Tonagh.
The newswire, slated to close in late June, would now continue operating as AAP and provide breaking news, public interest journalism, sports coverage and news photography.
“I am pleased that, after months of discussions with various parties, it appears we have been able to secure a new home for AAP’s legacy of trusted news,” CEO Bruce Davidson said.
The sale involves only the news division of AAP, including text and photography, which currently provides reporting on general news, courts, politics, finance, racing and sport, plus images and video.
Other parts of the AAP Group will be retained by the current shareholders. This includes Medianet, Mediaverse, AAP Directories, Pagemasters and Racing operations and these businesses will continue to operate as usual.
Mr Tonagh said his consortium is committed to independent journalism.
“We live in a time where trusted, unbiased news is more important than ever. AAP has always delivered on that and we are committed to seeing that continue into the future,” he said in a statement.
“I’m looking forward to working with the AAP team to continue its great work and to find new commercial opportunities to ensure its long-term survival. “On behalf of the consortium that I lead, after consulting with staff, customers and other stakeholders, our consortium will provide more information about our future plan for AAP.” The new-look AAP will employ 85-90 staff, including around 70-75 editorial staff, and management, IT and support personnel.
The consortium will continue the AAP FactCheck service.
The consortium will engage with employees over coming weeks. AAP’s board announced on March 3 the entire operation would close on June 26, citing the financial impact of the increasing availability of free online content. It would have meant the loss of up to 500 jobs.
AAP is currently owned by Nine, News Corp Australia, The West Australian and Australian Community Media.
The newswire opened more than 85 years ago and its potential loss had been widely described as a blow to democracy.
Editor in Chief Tony Gillies described Friday’s news as a triumph for public interest journalism.
“Finally, a good news story for an industry that has been battered,” he said. “In the 95 days since the original March 3 closure announcement our journalists, photographers and editors have endured the anxiety of an uncertain future and the difficulties of the COVID-19 lockdown. And yet, they have been professional without exception, working as hard as ever.
“Their poise and resilience has been inspiring. The consortium is taking on Australia’s best.”