England try to deny Ireland a Grand Slam

Owen Farrell
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Updated 22 February 2020

England try to deny Ireland a Grand Slam

  • This will be England’s first game at Twickenham since thrashing Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August

TWICKENHAM: Owen Farrell will attempt to end the Grand Slam hopes of father Andy when England face Ireland in the Six Nations.

Sunday’s match at Twickenham will be the first time the pair have been in opposition since Andy Farrell was appointed Ireland head coach following the team’s disappointing first-round exit at the World Cup.

Promoted from within the setup after Joe Schmidt stood down, Farrell senior has yet to lose as Ireland boss following wins over Scotland and Six Nations title-holders Wales.

Those victories have left the former England dual code international’s current side just 80 minutes away from a Triple Crown.

But they will have to first get past a home team captained by son Owen, with the center a key figure in England’s run to the World Cup final in Japan both as skipper and first-choice goalkicker.

England coach Eddie Jones brought Andy Farrell into rugby union from rugby league while at Saracens, only to dispense with the then assistant coach when he succeeded Stuart Lancaster as Red Rose boss following the hosts’ group-stage departure at the 2015 World Cup. 

The Farrells have grown weary of talking about the family dynamics involved when they are on opposite sides.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray praised younger Farrell.  “I’ve played against Owen and toured with him with the (British and Irish) Lions. He’s an incredible player. Even with knowledge of the way he plays, he’s still able to pick the right options — that’s what makes him really hard to defend and analyze,” he said.

England haven’t been quite the same side since a stunning World Cup semifinal win over reigning champions New Zealand was followed a week later by a crushing 32-12 defeat by South Africa.

They then suffered a 24-17 loss away to France in their Six Nations opener before a hard-fought 13-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

Jones has shuffled his backs, with Elliot Daly returning to full-back after George Furbank suffered a recurrence of a longstanding hip and groin problem.

Jonathan Joseph, normally a center, will mark his 50th Test cap by making his first start in the wing berth vacated by Daly.

Both Daly and Joseph can expect plenty of aerial bombardment from Ireland in a match where an England win would put them right back in title contention.

But Jones said Daly would cope and that Joseph was “a great defender,” with “good jumping skills.”

Powerhouse center Manu Tuilagi returns after overcoming the minor groin suffered in the defeat by France, while Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs is restored to the starting line for what will be the scrum-half’s 100th international appearance, his 98 England caps supplemented by two for the Lions.

In the pack, Courtney Lawes moves from lock to blindside flanker, with Jones explaining the switch by saying: “Ireland have got a lot of good carriers... One of Courtney’s strengths is his ruck defense.”

Meanwhile Joe Marler comes in at loose-head prop, with Mako Vunipola missing for family reasons.

Ireland were forced into making a late alteration on Friday to what had been an unchanged team when lock Iain Henderson pulled out, his place taken by Devin Toner.

This will be England’s first game at Twickenham since thrashing Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August.

Ireland, though, completed a Grand Slam at ‘headquarters’ two years ago.

And if they can deny England their favored fast start, while the likes of Tadhg Furlong get on top on the scrum, the Irish could yet enjoy another memorable win.


Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2020

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021

  • Organizers wanted to have more room for the athletes to qualify, after many qualifying events were postponed

TOKYO: The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s Games.

Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the Games were due to start this year.
“The schedule for the Games is key to preparing for the Games,” Tokyo organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.”
Last week, the IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Games were scheduled to open on July 24 and close on Aug. 9. But the near exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on Aug. 8.
There had been talk of switching the Olympics to spring, a move that would coincide with the blooming of Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. But it would also clash with European soccer and North American sports leagues.
Mori said a spring Olympics was considered but holding the Games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events that have been postponed by the virus outbreak.
“We wanted to have more room for the athletes to qualify,” Mori said.
After holding out for weeks, local organizers and the IOC last week postponed the Tokyo Games under pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies and sports federations. It’s the first postponement in Olympic history, though there were several cancellations during wartime. The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
The new Olympic dates will conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back.
“The IOC has had close discussions with the relevant international federations,” Mori said. “I believe the IFs have accepted the Games being held in the summer.”
Both Mori and CEO Toshiro Muto have said the cost of rescheduling the Olympics will be “massive” — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Spring Olympics was considered but holding the Games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events.

• The new Olympic dates will conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back.

• The cost of rescheduling the Olympics will be ‘massive’ — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.

Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs, and testing times deciding how they are divided up.
“Since it (the Olympics) were scheduled for this summer, all the venues had given up hosting any other events during this time, so how do we approach that?” Muto asked.
“In addition, there will need to be guarantees when we book the new dates, and there is a possibility this will incur rent payments. So there will be costs incurred and we will need to consider them one by one. I think that will be the tougher process.”
Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of sports economics at Kansai University, puts the costs as high as $4 billion. That would cover the price of maintaining stadiums, refitting them, paying rentals, penalties and other expenses.
Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are twice that much. All of the spending is public money except $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget.
The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion, according to organizing committee documents. The IOC’s contribution goes into the operating budget.
IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly called the Tokyo Olympics the best prepared in history. However, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso also termed them “cursed.” Aso competed in shooting in the 1976 Olympics, and was born in 1940.
The Olympics planned for 1940 in Tokyo were canceled because of World War II.
The run-up to the Olympics also saw IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda, who also headed the Japanese Olympic Committee, forced to resign last year amid a bribery scandal.