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Three-peat for all blacks



by Rajitha Ratwatte

The third leg of the Bledisloe Cup and a game which will be counted for the rugby championship to be played between four countries from the southern hemisphere Argentina, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand kicked off in Perth, WA. A day game under hot conditions foreign to the New Zealanders. Furthermore three of the best players in the All-Black lineup Ritchie Mo’uanga, Aaron Smith, and the skipper Sam Whitelock staying at home for personal family reasons. Ardie Savea captaining the team was a proud moment for Pacifica players.

All three Barret brothers starting for the ABs alongside Brad Webber in the number nine shirt with T.J. Peranara on the bench. Damon Murphy the referee. The Kiwis chose to take the first two penalties they were awarded and went into a 6–0 lead inside the first five minutes. Beauden Barret was back in the no10 jersey, and we began to see more kicking than was customary when Mo’uanga was the incumbent. A great left-footed grubber from Baudie was picked up by Will Jordan who passed to Brad Webber who was able to send Jordie Barret off on a sixty-meter plus run to score the first ABs try under the posts. 13–0 inside 20 minutes of play.

In the 28th minute, an absolutely ridiculous red card was dished out to Jordie Barret for what was deemed to be a dangerous kick to the side of Marika Korobeit’s head when Jordie was collecting a high ball. An Oscar-winning performance from the “injured party” combined with the TMO deciding very early that it was a deliberate kick gave the on-field ref no chance to make a judgment. Jordie was off for 20 minutes as the new rule decrees. After 20 minutes another player can be brought on, but the red-carded player is done for the game. The Wallabies failed to take any advantage from the superior numbers they had on the field, and it was the ABs who scored just before halftime off a rolling maul with David Havili who had a great game joining the maul from no12 and scoring. Beauden Barret missed the kick as he did every other kick, he took in the game completing a below-par performance as a placekicker. 18–0 was the halftime score.

It was only after the sides were back at 15 each in the 48th minute, with Damian Mackenzie coming in at full-back that McDermott the Aussie scrum-half made one of his characteristic darting runs and set Fainga’a over mid-left for a seven pointer. 18–7. In the 54th minute, Akira Ioane playing at number six made the first of three fantastic runs along the touchline and Will Jordan strolled over the line mid-right to take the score to 23–7 when Barret missed again. 60 minutes into the game David Havili made an intercept off a Wallaby long pass well inside AB territory, ran the full length of the field hotly pushed by the Aussie no12 Karevi who managed an ankle tap but it was too late as the momentum generated by Havili allowed him to stagger over the line mid-left. Barret missed again and the score stood at 28-7. An impressive-looking Wallaby bench came on after the 60th minute and Nick White subbed on at number nine was promptly able to score under the posts off a good run by Pete Samu, also off the bench. 28-14 and the Aussie commentators thought they were in with a chance. The spectators were treated to some great sevens-style rugby with play going from one side of the field to the other. Akira Ioane featured again with his brother Rieko also able to use his great speed to good effect. Anton Lennert- Brown that ever so reliable midfielder benefitted and scored in the 68th minute. The kicking woes continued with Damien Mackenzie who was given the ball also missing the attempt at goal taking the score to 38–14. The irrepressible T.J. Peranara broke through but realising that he lacked the speed to cover the length of the field in front of him, kicked cross-field and George Bridge picked up and scored mid-left. Mackenzie missed again and the score read 38–14. The Wallabies were not done and some good work from Nick White in the dying moments of the game saw Tom Banks who always does a tidy job at number 15 score under the posts.

The final score read 38-21 to the New Zealanders completing the first of four matches they will be playing over the next few weeks in Australia during the rugby championship.

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Nine year old Mazel Alegado has Olympic dream in sight




Mazel Alegado, aged nine, qualified for the women's park final at the 2023 Asian Games (pic BBC)

At nine years old, skateboarder Mazel Alegado has the world at her feet.

The youngest member of the Philippines team at the Asian Games – and thought to be the youngest competitor at the entire event – finished seventh in the women’s park final in Hangzhou, China.

Now the United States resident has her eyes set on reaching the Olympic Games. 

“I’m really proud that I got here. My dream is to be a pro skater. I would love to go to the Olympics,” she told Japan Today. “I was so excited you know, because I was able to skate Asian Games. It was so fun,” she added.

She was inspired to take up the sport after watching her brother. “We were at my cousin’s house and I saw my brother skateboarding and I was like, ‘Can I try? Can I try?’ I got on the board and just loved it,” she said.

Alegado’s best score in the final came in her first run, when she posted 52.85.

Japanese skateboarder Hinano Kusaki, 15, claimed gold while China bagged silver and bronze with, respectively, 20-year-old Li Yujuan and Mao Jiasi, 15, finishing on the podium.

Skateboarding has attracted some of sport’s youngest athletes. Britain’s Sky Brown turned 13 shortly before claiming bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics while silver medallist Kokona Hiraki was 12.


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Gymnastics Ireland ‘deeply sorry’ to Black girl ignored at medal ceremony




US seven-time Olympic medallist Simone Biles said the video 'broke my heart' (pic Aljazeera)

Ireland’s gymnastics federation has apologised for the allegedly racist treatment of a young Black gymnast who was skipped by an official handing out medals to a row of girls last year.

Footage posted on social media last week of an event in Dublin in 2022 showed the official appearing to snub the girl, the only Black gymnast in the lineup, who looked bewildered.

“We would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident,”  Gymnastics Ireland (GI) said in a statement posted on its website on Monday.

“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” said the statement.  “We would like to make it absolutely clear that [GI] condemns any form of racism whatsoever,” it added.

The video posted on Friday soon went viral and drew widespread condemnation of the girl’s treatment, including from star United States gymnast Simone Biles, who said she sent the girl a private video message of support.

“It broke my heart to see the video. There is no room for racism in any sport or at all,” Biles, a seven-time Olympic medalist, said Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Biles’s US teammate Jordan Chiles described the incident as “beyond hurtful on so many levels”.

In an earlier statement, GI defended the official who it said had made an “honest error” but acknowledged it received a complaint from the parents of the girl alleging racist behaviour in March 2022.

GI said an independent mediation had led to a “resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023”, that the official had written an apology and that the girl had received her medal after the ceremony.

However, the Irish Independent on Sunday anonymously quoted the girl’s mother as saying GI had failed to publicly apologise and that she would take the issue to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.


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How home teams are thriving in ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups



MS Dhoni hit the winning six in the final against Sri Lanka.

Pressure or advantage? The conundrum that faces the hosts of each ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.

If the last three editions are anything to go by, it is an advantage to be playing at home.

But, up until the 2011 edition, only one team had ever won as hosts, and that was Sri Lanka in 1996 when they co-hosted with India and Pakistan.

Even then, they only played two games at home, winning the final in Lahore.

Since 2011, a home team has triumphed every time with India setting the trend which Australia and, most recently, England followed.

Each team had unique challenges to face en route to the trophy, but what worked for the home teams?


India’s legends lead them home

Legends were made, celebrated, and inspired at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2011.

The final on 2 April was the most memorable day for the great Sachin Tendulkar as he was finally part of a World Cup-winning squad.

He made only 18 runs in the showpiece, but he had stewarded India there with a Player-of-the-Match- performance in the semi-final against Pakistan.

Yuvraj Singh had also done his job, winning Player of the Tournament after piling up 362 runs and 15 wickets, doing so without knowing he was suffering from cancer.

Each player was facing a personal Everest as well as the collective one of attempting to win a World Cup under what felt like insurmountable pressure.

To prepare, they spoke with Mike Horn, an adventurer who became the first person to solo circumnavigate the Equator, who put into perspective the challenge ahead of them.

The first challenge they faced was opening the tournament against Bangladesh, Virender Sehwag began with a boundary and that is how the tournament ended – MS Dhoni hit the winning six in the final against Sri Lanka.

The captain had moved himself above usual No.5 Singh, the change paying off as he then compiled 91 runs from 79 balls to see India to a second title and send the nation into ecstasy.

Doing so, the pressure was released and the curse of the hosts winning on home soil was broken.


Australia surge to fifth trophy

The most successful team in the competition’s history, Australia were never going to be able to fly under the radar, and their performances in 2015 certainly caught the eye.

The World Cup started on a positive note when they beat their old rivals England by 111 runs at the MCG.

But spirits were dampened by a washout against Bangladesh before New Zealand took a low-scoring thriller at Eden Park, winning by just one wicket.

And hell hath no fury like an Aussie team beaten.

Michael Clarke’s men responded by putting on the highest score at a World Cup, crashing 417 against Afghanistan in a 275-run win.

Comfortable defeats of Sri Lanka and Scotland followed before Australia brushed aside Pakistan and India in the knockouts.

The latter became the sixth team to be bowled out by Australia in the tournament as they were reduced to 233 runs, 96 short of their target.

The same fate befell New Zealand in the final in Melbourne as they were all out for 183 which Australia chased down with 101 balls to spare.

The experience of previous wins outweighed the pressure of home expectations, not something England could say four years later.


Four years in the making

England had never won the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup before and had been burned by a disastrous campaign in 2015.

But from the ashes grew new life, as captain Eoin Morgan led a rebuild with one aim, to win the World Cup on home soil.

There was time for beauty amid the ruthlessness, Ben Stokes’ stunning catch in the opener against South Africa firing up the tournament.

Morgan broke records as he blasted the most sixes in an innings against Afghanistan before Australia were blown away in the semi-finals.

The final at Lord’s was not about beauty or ruthlessness but as England attempted to do what had previously been impossible for them, they simply just needed to be in the contest.

The game ebbed and flowed as any good one-day match should before reaching a crescendo with a Super Over.

It almost had to be like this, the team who had set out to revolutionize the game, winning the World Cup in a way it had never been won before.

Now the tournament returns to the place where the trend started, and with India acting as solo hosts for the first time, all eyes will truly be on them.

But as 2011 showed, that is how they like it.

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