'Rugby's like a chessboard with 120kg pieces' - how virtual reality could transform training

Painstaking research, virtual reality and holding the tackle bags in training... an insight into how a top rugby analyst operates.



Leroy Sané’s fine double fires Manchester City past Hoffenheim

Manchester City stuttered but two goals from Leroy Sané gave them a fourth win of the group stage and cemented their position as one of the big favourites to win the Champions League this season.Pep Guardiola made five changes to the team that lost at Chelsea on Saturday. Out went the injured David Silva and Fernandinho, plus Riyad Mahrez, Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph, who were all on the bench. Ilkay Gündogan, Nicolás Otamendi, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko came into the side. Continue reading...



Cheltenham Festival to reduce field sizes in bid to improve safety

• Changes proposed for meeting after seven deaths this year• Pre-race veterinary checks to be increased at the fixtureThe British Horseracing Authority published a series of recommendations on Wednesday designed to improve the safety and welfare of horses and riders in National Hunt racing as a whole and at the Cheltenham Festival in March in particular. The proposals are the result of a review of the Festival which was launched after seven horses died as a result of injuries sustained at this year’s meeting, including three in the final race, the two-mile Grand Annual Chase.In all, the review makes 17 recommendations, which include increased pre-race veterinary checks on runners, a reduction in the safety limit for two-mile chases from 24 to 20 and detailed analysis of faller rates for both trainers and jockeys both at Cheltenham and in all jump racing. Trainers and jockeys with faller rates “higher than the historical average” will be required to “engage constructively” with the BHA to find ways in which their number of fallers can be reduced. Continue reading...



Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he was racially abused as an Arsenal youth player

Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he was the victim of racial abuse when playing for the Gunners youth team



Anastasia Dobromyslova: ‘Being a girl, I’ve had to fight for my spot in darts’

Ellesmere Port-based Russian is one of two women who have qualified for the PDC event at Alexandra Palace from ThursdayAnastasia Dobromyslova smiles as she remembers the first time she played darts, as a 12-year‑old in her home city of Tver, just over 100 miles from Moscow, and realised she had an unerring knack for hitting trebles and doubles – and beating the older boys at her youth club. “I wasn’t very well liked,” she laughs. “I think that’s what toughened me up, because I’ve always had to be amongst the boys. Being a girl I have had to fight for my spot.”Not a great deal has changed in the intervening two decades. But having qualified for one of two new women’s spots at this year’s expanded PDC World Championship, which begins at Alexandra Palace on Thursday, the 34-year-old Dobromyslova intends to make the most of her opportunity. “You don’t realise how many emotions I have,” she says. “I’m excited, I’m nervous and I know playing in front of thousands of people will be challenging. But with a bit of luck, who knows what could happen?” Continue reading...



World sport: 10 photos we liked this week - 22-28 October

A selection of the most striking sports photographs from around the world this week.



Tony Adams to become new president of Rugby Football League

• Former Arsenal player made contacts through Sporting Chance• Charity has helped more than 400 rugby league playersTony Adams, the former Arsenal and England footballer, will become the new president of the Rugby Football League next summer. Adams, who has worked with the RFL in developing rugby league’s player welfare programmes via his Sporting Chance charity, will succeed Andy Burnham and become the 29th person to occupy the role.“It will be an honour to become the next president of the RFL,” Adams said. “I am passionate about working with everyone in the sport to raise the profile of mental health, wellness and resilience, for players and for everyone in rugby league. I’d like to play my part in championing this brilliant sport on the national stage.” Continue reading...



Why should someone like Raheem Sterling be seen as ‘fair game’? | Daniel Taylor

Stan Collymore argues that nothing will be done about abuse of Sterling because nothing ever is, but if there was more diversity in the newsrooms it might shape the thinking differentlyBefore going into football journalism full-time I spent a few years on the news beat for various tabloid newspapers. That may surprise a few people because, outside the industry, there seems to be a perception you are either one or the other: broadsheet or red-top, luvvie or rotter. But it doesn’t actually work like that. I worked for a freelance agency in the Midlands, covering for virtually all the national titles, and there was no room for journalistic snobbery for a young reporter with a provisional driving licence and 40-words-per-minute shorthand.But it was definitely an eye-opener. One story was of a car being stolen in Leicester while, unbeknown to the thief, a baby was strapped into the back seat. The car was still missing and the police had organised a press conference for her mother, who had not been identified, to make a public appeal. It was a big story and there were a lot of national newspaper journalists in attendance. But I can still remember the awkwardness when she came in and the vibe from several reporters – not just the tabloids – that there was an issue, news-wise. The woman in question wasn’t white. She was Indian and that was a problem, I was told, because the relevant newspapers might no longer think it was a photograph, or story, their readership wanted. Continue reading...



Rob Cross: ‘After the world darts final it was like I’d hit rock-bottom’

The world No 2 darts player went from winning £7 in pubs to winning the PDC world championship within 18 months, but, he says, quick success ‘drained me’“Do you ever get these feelings that something’s going to happen?” Rob Cross asks with surprise in his voice. “You don’t know where they come from but you can feel that something’s going to happen. I had that feeling when I won the worlds. I had that feeling when I won the Challenge Tour. They’re like premonitions.”Cross shakes his head and smiles at the mysterious force of the past two years. His life has been transformed from being an electrician who won £7 after victory in a pub tournament, to becoming the world champion of darts 18 months later. Cross won £400,000 on 1 January 2018 when, in the PDC world championship final, he crushed his hero, Phil Taylor, at the end of his first year as a professional. Since then, Cross put on five stone in weight and was disconcerted when the lives of his wife and three children were threatened by a crank who was offended by his stunning rise. Continue reading...



Cameron Radigan opens up on his passion for archery

Cameron Radigan on his campaign to have his leg amputated and his archery dream.



The Breakdown | Neath’s sad decline laid bare as they face judgment day in court | Paul Rees

In dire financial trouble off the pitch, short of players and bottom of the Welsh Premiership, the famous club faces a winding-up order in court on ThursdayBack in the day spectators used to clamber up the floodlight pylons at the Gnoll to get a better view because the terraces were so packed. Now, as Neath faces a winding-up order on Thursday for failing to repay a £30,000 loan taken out to cover wages, the lights may go out for good on Wales’s oldest club.Neath are due to entertain Llanelli on Friday night, a fixture that not long ago would have been a highlight of any club weekend. It will be preceded by a bash for supporters in the clubhouse, but if the court hearing goes against a club whose nickname has long been the Mourners, it would turn into a wake. Continue reading...



Valencia 2-1 Man Utd: Champions League defeat for Jose Mourinho's side

Manchester United fall to a Champions League defeat in Valencia as a Phil Jones own goal follows a glaring miss by Paul Pogba.



Jimmy Gressier retains Euro U-23 Cross Country title but faceplants on finish line – video

Jimmy Gressier successfully defended his men’s under-23 European Cross Country title in the Netherlands on Sunday, but the runner’s failed celebration are likely what will be remembered best. Continue reading...



Chris Froome: Team Sky is not finished yet despite sponsor pulling plug in 2019

Sky will end sponsorship of team at close of 2019 seasonSir Dave Brailsford says team may continue with a new partnerA defiant Chris Froome said Team Sky “is not finished yet by any means”, despite Sky’s decision to pull the plug at the end of next year on a sponsorship deal worth £30m a year.The four-times Tour de France winner also pledged to do everything possible to keep the team together, regardless of scepticism within cycling that another deep-pocketed sponsor will quickly ride to the rescue of the richest team in the sport. Continue reading...



What is the smallest football ground a European champion has lost at? | The Knowledge

Plus: the longest delay for any new stadium in history and the worst goal difference you can get away with and still qualify in the Champions League. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Real Madrid recently lost 3-0 to Eibar in a stadium that holds just 7,000 people,” begins Robin Tucker. “That got me thinking: have any former European champions lost a competitive match in a smaller stadium? This would be only counting results after their first European success, so games such as Liverpool’s 1959 defeat to Worcester City would not count.”A fine question, but it’s not even the smallest stadium a former European champion has lost in this season. The 1986 winners Steaua Bucharest, now snappily known as FCSB, have suffered plenty of turmoil recently, including a defeat earlier this month to Sepsi OSK. That was in front of an estimated 2,500 at the 5,200-capacity Stadionul Municipal. Continue reading...



‘Creative’ AlphaZero leads way for chess computers and, maybe, science | Sean Ingle

Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov likes what he sees of computer that could be used to find cures for diseasesGarry Kasparov is not only humanity’s greatest ever chess player but its highest-profile victim of artificial intelligence. His loss to IBM’s super computer Deep Blue in 1997 made global headlines and left him feeling bitter and, well, blue. Yet there is a warm glint in his eye when he talks about AlphaZero, the game-changing chess program that took just four hours to teach itself to become the strongest in history. Related: Magnus Carlsen beats Caruana in tie-breakers to retain World Chess crown Continue reading...



Joel Matip: Liverpool defender out for up to six weeks with fractured collarbone

Liverpool defender Joel Matip could be out for up to six weeks as he needs surgery on a fractured collarbone.



Team Sky’s legacy: titles and ambition tarnished by coldness and allegations | Richard Williams

The cycling team, who will lose Sky as a sponsor next year, raised the sport’s profile in Britain but took it away from the humanity treasured by puristsEvery now and then a new force enters a sport with an impact so crushing it reshapes and even deforms the whole competition. So it was with the state-sponsored German grand prix teams in the 1930s, with East African distance runners over the past two decades and with football clubs benefiting today from the sovereign wealth of Arab states. Team Sky’s recent dominance of cycling’s major events can be measured on that scale.Many will mourn the passing of a name that helped bring British riders to the forefront of the sport: first Bradley Wiggins, then Chris Froome and most recently Geraint Thomas. When Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012 it was the fulfilment of what had long appeared an impossible dream. By the time of Thomas’s recent Tour victory – a sixth for Sky in seven years – it seemed almost commonplace. Froome’s victories in the Vuelta a España in 2017 and this year’s Giro d’Italia meant he and the team held all three grand tour jerseys simultaneously. Continue reading...