Gareth Anscombe: ‘Wales are now genuine heavyweights. Warren’s one of the best’

15-12-2018 Cardiff Blues fly-half, who faces Saracens in the Champions Cup on Saturday, on Wales’ potentially defining 2019 and the social media abuse that rocked him after his move from New ZealandBeneath the seasonal mistletoe in Wales this Christmas there will be less frivolity than normal. With the nation’s rugby team third in the world rankings, this is no time for casual distractions. Forget the frankincense and myrrh: just imagine the golden glow in 2019 should wise old Warren Gatland deliver a Six Nations title and World Cup glory as parting gifts to his followers. Related: The end of an era: what next for All Blacks after Steve Hansen? Continue reading...

The Fiver | How best to avoid a hiding with a team he clearly thinks isn’t up to the job

15-12-2018 Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!The Fiver would give several pennies for the thoughts of José Mourinho as he sits in the suite he has called home for the past two-and-a-half years at the Lowry Hotel. With the thrill of frightening staff by dressing as a zombie using his shower curtain, snaffling complimentary biscuits and tungsten-tipped screws long gone and being able to take apart and reassemble his Corby Trouser Press quicker than a blindfolded soldier field-stripping an AK47 assault rifle, the Manchester United manager has plenty of time to dwell on the vicissitudes of life, not least how best to avoid a hiding against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday with a team he clearly thinks isn’t up to the job. Continue reading...

European Rugby Champions Cup: Ulster beat Scarlets 30-15 to complete double

15-12-2018 Ulster secure a second consecutive bonus-point win over Scarlets with an impressive 30-15 victory in Belfast.

Jürgen Klopp: trophies are not everything, Liverpool need solid base

15-12-2018 • Manager wants to build foundation for lasting success• ‘If I’m not as smart as Einstein should I not even try?’Jürgen Klopp has said silverware is not the only measure of success but Liverpool’s progression as a club should provide the basis for sustained achievement at Anfield.The Liverpool manager accepted José Mourinho’s latest reminder that “trophies matter” before Manchester United’s visit to Anfield, with his Old Trafford rival making reference to the absence of silverware from Klopp’s tenure in the buildup to Sunday’s fixture. Klopp, however, insists his reign should not be judged on trophies alone but on the clear development of the squad and club since his arrival in October 2015. He claimed life would be “shit” if not finishing first was considered worthless. Continue reading...

The 100 best footballers in the world 2017

15-12-2018 Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year.• Messi edges Ronaldo to No1 | The data behind our 100 | Watch: our top 10• Meet our panel of judges for 2017 | 2016 edition | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 Continue reading...

‘Having children changes everything’ – lessons from my father about how to be a man

15-12-2018 Society has changed immeasurably over the last few decades, so how has that affected what it takes to be a good man? Who better to ask than my dad? By Andrew DickensFor several millennia now, men have had things their own way (I’m assuming there are no howls of protest at this statement). But in the last few decades, things seem to have changed for the better – and changed fast. So fast, we are told, that men’s moral compasses are spinning. In the space of a generation, what it means to be a good man has been completely overhauled. Continue reading...

Jess Varnish tribunal: Ex-rider putting 'self interest' first, says British Cycling lawyer

15-12-2018 Ex-rider Jess Varnish is putting "self-interest" first in an employment case against British Cycling and UK Sport, a lawyer says.

Canelo Álvarez awaits in Rocky Fielding's unlikely shot at glory

15-12-2018 Few will give the 31-year-old Liverpudlian a chance on Saturday when he climbs through the ropes at Madison Square Garden to face Canelo ÁlvarezWhen Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez announced the first opponent of his blockbuster 11-fight, $365m contract with upstart streaming service DAZN, the collective reaction from the general public was unanimous: Who?Few beyond dedicated boxing fans were familiar with Rocky Fielding, the lesser of the two super middleweight champions recognized by the World Boxing Association, the sanctioning body that hands out belts seemingly at will and has done more to cheapen the currency of a world title than any one factor (and it is a high bar). Continue reading...

World Cup squads face wait for Premiership players due to insurance dispute

15-12-2018 • Premiership Rugby may hold back players until mid-August• Wales and Scotland among those who would be hardest hitAn insurance wrangle between World Rugby and the Premiership is threatening to severely hamper World Cup preparations for nations such as Wales and Scotland who could be deprived of their players in the buildup to the tournament.If the dispute is not resolved, the Guardian understands Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) intends to prevent players from nations other than England joining their teams until mid-August, when the official Test window opens, only 35 days before the first match in Japan. Continue reading...

Danny Cipriani: ‘It’s been the same story for six years, hasn’t it?’

15-12-2018 Fly-half remains philosophical about his England exile and is enjoying his new leadership role at GloucesterIf Danny Cipriani feels messed around by England he hides it well. You might expect confusion, resentment, even betrayal at how he again finds himself on the outside looking in after the briefest of comebacks over the summer but on a chilly afternoon in Gloucestershire there is nothing but positivity from the exiled fly-half.To recap, Cipriani made his first England start in 10 years in their first win in six matches in June but was discarded again for the autumn campaign. It followed his arrest in Jersey but Eddie Jones insisted his latest omission was based on form, all while Cipriani was tearing up trees with his new club, Gloucester. Continue reading...

Who is the greatest F1 driver ever?

15-12-2018 After Lewis Hamilton won his fifth world title on Sunday, BBC Sport is asking you just who is the greatest F1 driver ever?

Dina Asher-Smith a real contender for BBC Sports Personality of the Year

15-12-2018 The athlete who won three European gold medals is likely to be up against Harry Kane, Geraint Thomas and Lewis HamiltonA hugely successful and exhilarating year for British sport will be acknowledged in time-worn fashion on Sunday night when the country’s leading athletes – along with 12,000 paying spectators – gather at the Genting Arena in Birmingham for the 65th running of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. Yet, in a break from recent tradition, a woman has a genuine shot at the main prize.Not since 2006, when Zara Phillips was rewarded for winning the equestrian world title, has the award gone to a woman – and since then the only women to make even the podium are the athletes Jessica Ennis-Hill and Jo Pavey, and the swimmer Rebecca Adlington. Yet the bookmakers rate Dina Asher-Smith as a genuine contender after a dizzying few months, during which she became the first British track and field star to claim a treble of gold medals at a major championships. Continue reading...

Paul Sherwen obituary

15-12-2018 Cyclist, television commentator and broadcaster who became one of the defining voices of his sportPaul Sherwen, who has died of a heart attack aged 62, was a pioneering member of the group of English-speaking cyclists nicknamed the Foreign Legion, a doughty five-times Tour de France finisher and, together with Phil Liggett, half of the Channel 4 commentary pairing that brought the race into British sitting rooms daily for the first time during the late 1980s.“Phil and Paul” became the voices of the Tour de France across the English-speaking world: the voluble Liggett described the action and the more measured Sherwen detailed moves and personalities. For a generation of fans – initially in the UK, later across most of the English-speaking world – they were the defining voices of the sport. By this year, Sherwen had attended 40 tours. Continue reading...

'Humble and generous, but a private enigma' - who was Leicester City's owner?

15-12-2018 Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is revered in Leicester as the man who presided over one of sport's great triumphs - but who was the billionaire Thai businessman?

Chelsea condemn own fans over antisemitic chant in Budapest

15-12-2018 Chelsea’s reputation took another withering blow on Thursday night, with the club condemning their own supporters after they were heard singing an antisemitic chant in Hungary, just days after four fans were suspended for allegedly abusing Raheem Sterling.Minutes into Chelsea’s first match since Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Manchester City was overshadowed by the alleged racist abuse directed at City’s Sterling, a group of the 1,273 travelling supporters were heard singing a derogatory chant about Tottenham fans, featuring antisemitic language. Continue reading...

Martin Dubravka chooses his Newcastle United band-mates

15-12-2018 Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka grew up attending music school, but which of his teammates would he choose to form a team band?

Football should not carry the can for society’s ills – but can help to remedy them | Barney Ronay

15-12-2018 Raheem Sterling kickstarted a welcome debate on racism this week and while the game should not shoulder all the blame perhaps everyone in football has learned somethingTo be fair to the more risque element of Chelsea’s matchday support, they have been very thorough this week in representing the full political spectrum. On the one hand an ad hoc hostile environment for Anglo-Jamaican British citizens. On the other a little throwaway antisemitism on Thursday night in Hungary. This is exemplary political balance and frankly the BBC for one could learn a great deal from it.All that remains to complete the circle is for Sterling’s alleged Stamford Bridge abuser to resign from the East Stand and then turn up six months later as an outside Windrush Ticket bet for the next Conservative prime minister. And for Jeremy Corbyn to condemn, with a sad sigh, not specifically these Yid chants but “all kinds of offensive football chanting everywhere”. Continue reading...

Pep Guardiola: Kevin De Bruyne is fresh, recovered … he is a special player

15-12-2018 • Kevin De Bruyne could make his return against Everton• Manager believes Belgian’s injuries could prove a blessingPep Guardiola believes Kevin De Bruyne’s injuries may prove a blessing in disguise for Manchester City because the Belgian will return fresh for the second half of the season.De Bruyne is back in full training after his second knee problem of the campaign. Continue reading...

Olivier Giroud: ‘Winning the Premier League is my last dream as a footballer’

15-12-2018 Chelsea striker and the French voice of the Green Goblin discusses his World Cup high, how he coped with once being jeered by France fans and how being a fringe player involves patienceFive months on and Olivier Giroud still struggles to get his head around the fact he is a World Cup winner. Reality kicks in on occasion. Most obviously there was the moment on the open-top bus, crawling down the Champs Élysées in mid-July serenaded by half a million compatriots, when nine air force jets roared overhead trailing red, white and blue in their plumes and he felt “like a rock star”. He will receive a replica of the trophy any day now to sit alongside the framed photograph of his eldest daughter, Jade, kissing the real thing amid the ticker tape and pyrotechnics at the Luzhniki. Related: Liberté, égalité, diversity: how France won the World Cup Continue reading...