World Rugby has proposed the introduction of a temporary international window before the end of 2020, a move that would allow this year's Six Nations to be completed.

The governing body's executive committee is keen for international fixtures to be staged again to aid the sport as it tries to deal with the off-field impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Having held discussions with all international and club competitions, as well as players and national unions, World Rugby wants a window that will start in late October and run into December.

The revised calendar would allow for the 2020 Six Nations tournament - suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak in March - to stage the final four fixtures still outstanding, followed by Test matches in Europe organised by the individual unions.

As for the Rugby Championship, the 2020 edition would take place in one country over a six-week period spanning November 7 to December 12.

"Recognising the importance of a balanced and shared compromise among all stakeholders, a temporary international window between October 24 and December 5 has been recommended," said a statement from World Rugby.

"In the north, this window will accommodate the postponed men's and women's Six Nations matches at the end of October, a rest weekend on November 7 and a programme of international matches involving the Six Nations and invited teams hosted in Europe from November 14 through to December 5."

With the Rugby Championship, "special" measures would be put in place to cope with travel restrictions, while the changes to the schedule allows leading players to be available for their clubs.

"With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to impact international travel and borders across southern hemisphere unions, on an exceptional basis the Rugby Championship 2020 will be hosted in full in a single country over a reduced six-week period between November 7 and December 12," the statement continued.

"Special measures will be implemented to deal with any government-required quarantine period prior to the start of the competition.

"The rescheduling of the domestic, European and international calendars will accommodate the ability for the professional clubs to have access to their star southern hemisphere international players for the completion of the postponed and rescheduled 2019-20 seasons at a time in which they would have ordinarily been on international duty in August and September."

The recommendations will need to receive approval at next week's meeting of the World Rugby Council.

Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini have signed one-year contract extensions with Juventus, the Serie A leaders have confirmed.

The experienced pair were both on contracts that would have expired this year, but they will play on for at least another campaign. 

Chiellini has been with the club since 2005 and amassed over 500 appearances for the Bianconeri, while Buffon first arrived in Turin 19 years ago, his spell only interrupted by a season with Paris Saint-Germain. 

Despite their advanced years – Chiellini and Buffon are 35 and 42 respectively, Juve still see value in the Italy icons and will be able to count on them again in 2020-21. 

"These are players who need no introduction," a Juve statement read. "Champions whose story speaks for itself, and whose connection with the shirt they wear is indissoluble.

"Examples on the pitch and in the locker room, leaders, driving forces, bearers of the Bianconeri DNA, who wear it as a second skin.

"Gianluigi Buffon. Giorgio Chiellini. Captains, legends."

Chiellini has been limited to just three Serie A appearances in 2019-20, having suffered a serious knee ligament injury in August. 

The defender made his return after a lengthy lay-off in February, though the centre-back has not been able to feature since the campaign resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break due to fitness issues. 

Goalkeeper Buffon, meanwhile, has also been limited in terms of first-team football since rejoining the club last year, though he has still featured 13 times across all competitions as reserve behind Wojciech Szczesny.

 

"The idea of becoming a coach came to me during my last years as a player."

Massimo Carrera enjoyed a successful career as a defender, winning Serie A, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana titles with Juventus in the 1990s.

Carrera, who earned a move to Juventus from Bari in 1991 before leaving Turin five years later, also went on to captain Atalanta before eventually retiring in 2008.

The 56-year-old now finds himself in charge of Greek giants AEK Athens.

He had his first taste of coaching, albeit briefly, at Juventus in 2012 after head coach Antonio Conte was handed a 10-month ban – later reduced to four months – for failing to report match-fixing.

Carrera, who played alongside Conte in Turin before reuniting with his former team-mate as technical director in 2011, stepped into the caretaker role and claimed the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli.

"Being part of Juventus' staff and then even stepping in during that period was an unexpected and extraordinary experience for me," Carrera told Stats Perform News.

"I remember the first Supercoppa match against Napoli which we won [4-2 after extra time in Beijing]. I was very tense during the week leading up to the final but at the beginning of the match it was as if I had been training for years."

Despite being six years Conte's senior, Carrera soaked up the Italian's methods and formed a strong bond, which led to the pair teaming up again – this time with Italy.

Carrera was part of Conte's Azzurri staff as an assistant for Euro 2016. After Italy lost to Germany in the quarter-finals, Conte joined Premier League powerhouse Chelsea. All of his assistants followed to London, except one – trusted lieutenant Carrera joined Spartak Moscow as Dmitri Alenichev's assistant coach.

Having arrived in July, Carrera quickly went from assistant to caretaker manager and then permanent coach on a two-year deal the following month after Alenichev resigned.

"After Conte's return I resumed my role as assistant and during the European Championship, there was the opportunity to go to Spartak Moscow as Alenichev wanted me as assistant," Carrera said. "Driven by the fact that Conte, who was about to move to Chelsea, could not take all the staff with him, I accepted and I left for Moscow."

Carrera's decision to swap Italy for Moscow proved to be a wise one for coach and club after ending Spartak's 16-year wait for Russian Premier League glory.

No other Spartak coach managed a better start – Carrera's men collecting 28 of 36 points from the first 12 matches under the Italian – as they claimed their first league crown since 2001 ahead of rivals CSKA Moscow.

"It was an extraordinary experience for me. I remember when I became Spartak Moscow head coach, the situation was not easy and there was a lot of pressure," he continued. "The team hadn't won a league in 16 years and fans were upset.  We worked hard to do our best and it was a triumph because we were at the top of the standings from the first day of the championship."

The situation, though, turned sour as he was sacked by Spartak in October 2018 after finishing third the previous season, despite being a popular figure among fans.

"I was really sad about that [leaving Spartak] because I hadn't be able to complete my job despite being one point behind the runner-up team," Carrera added.

Fast forward to 2020 and Carrera is coaching one of Greece's biggest teams – 12-time Super League champions AEK.

AEK appointed Carrera in December last year following a sabbatical, replacing Nikolaos Kostenoglou in Athens.

The coronavirus pandemic halted Carrera's work in March but AEK have made an unbeaten start since returning earlier this month – drawing at home to rivals Panathinaikos and defeating OFI 2-0 on Sunday to stay second in the table, 17 points behind leaders Olympiacos and two clear of PAOK in the race for Champions League qualification in the play-off round.

"Now I'm here at AEK Athens, another great club. We started the play-offs and we are in the cup semi-final [against Aris on June 24]," Carrera said. "Our goal is to secure second place and win the Greek Cup.  AEK fans are very passionate, warm and close to the team."

AEK last won the league title in 2017-18 as Olympiacos and Panathinaikos continue to dominate, and Carrera added: "This gap can be eliminated by working hard and trying to add technical quality. It was not easy but having the technology on our side we managed to work by monitoring and watching the players."

Since Carrera moved to Athens Olympic Stadium, he has only overseen one defeat in 20 matches, with AEK in the midst of a 15-game unbeaten streak across all competitions. In total, Carrera has only lost 21 of his 119 games in charge of AEK, Spartak and Juve.

"I think I transmitted all the passion and emotion that I feel about football to the team," Carrera said.

As Carrera utilises his experiences under the likes of Giovanni Trapattoni and Marcello Lippi to make his mark in Europe, the one-time Italy international is dreaming of a fairytale return.

"Definitely go back to Juventus," Carrera said. "This is my dream!"

Giorgio Chiellini plans to play at least one more season before retiring as he aims to sign off in style with Italy at the delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

The Juventus defender has missed the majority of the 2019-20 season after suffering a serious knee injury in August, though he returned to action prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

While he will turn 36 in August, Chiellini has no intention of hanging up his boots in the near future, suggesting there is a possibility of him carrying on beyond the 2020-21 campaign.

In an Instagram Live chat with actress Martina Colombari, the wife of former Milan and Italy defender Alessandro Costacurta, the centre-back also revealed how a move into coaching is unlikely once his playing days are finally over.

"I will play another year, then I'll see how I feel and how my legs hold up," Chiellini said.

"I could retire next summer or have another season after that. I would like to continue in football, probably more a directorial role than management, but you never know in life.

"I hope to get there [Euro 2020] in excellent condition to live this last international event to the fullest.

"We have experienced players and many strong youngsters. Ending with a great European [Championship] would be a great satisfaction, closing the circle."

Chiellini admitted the injury was a huge blow but embraced the "challenge" of making a full recovery, something that may not have been the case at an earlier stage in his career.

"At the beginning it was difficult, accepting an injury is not easy, but I'm glad I had it at 35 because you have a different maturity. I found it as a challenge with myself," he explained.

June 10 will forever be remembered as a famous day in Italian football, as it marks the first time the Azzurri conquered the world and Europe.

It is also a date on which Al Geiberger made history on the PGA Tour and Sebastian Coe set an 800m world record that went unbroken for 16 years.

Many French Open tennis finals have been held on this day, but the battle between Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe in 1984 stands out.

This was also the date on which the first University Boat Race, one of the oldest annual sporting events in the world, was held in London.

 

1829 - Oxford win first University Boat Race

The University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, England's most prestigious higher-education bodies, has been held annually on the Thames since 1856. The only exceptions were caused by the First and Second World Wars (no races took place from 1915-19 and 1940-45) and in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic intervened.

The very first such event took place back on June 10, 1829. Oxford triumphed by nearly two lengths in around 14 minutes and 30 seconds.

Cambridge got revenge at the second race, seven years later, and they still lead the overall standings 84-80.

 

1934 - Italy win home World Cup

The second football World Cup took place in Italy 86 years ago, under the shadow of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime.

The host nation triumphed after a 2-1 victory over Czechoslovakia in scorching temperatures in Rome, Angelo Schiavo scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 win.

Italy tasted more success at a home tournament on this date in 1968, winning their only European Championship to date with a 2-0 defeat of Yugoslavia, a match also played in Rome.

That fixture was a replay after the teams had battled out a 1-1 draw two days earlier at the same Stadio Olimpico venue.

 

1977 - Al Geiberger cards sub-60 round

Geiberger claimed 30 professional wins in his career including the PGA Championship in 1966, but he is widely remembered for becoming the first player in history to card a score of 59 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

His bogey-free second round helped him to win the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in 1977, even though it was the only round where he shot under 70.

That round of 59 has been equalled nine times since and beaten only once: Jim Furyk carded a 58 final round at the 2016 Travelers Championship.

 

1981 - Sebastian Coe sets 800m world record

Coe produced a run for the ages in the 800 metres on June 10, 1981 in Florence.

His world record of one minute and 41.73 seconds lasted for 16 years until Wilson Kipketer twice recorded lower times in 1997, and it was not until August 2010 that David Rudisha went even faster.

Coe remains the joint-third fastest man to run the distance in history – Nijel Amos equalled his time at the 2012 Olympics in London. That run by Amos was only good enough for silver, since Rudisha took the gold with a world record of 1:40.91, which still stands.

 

1984 - Lendl defeats McEnroe in Paris

McEnroe had the chance to silence those who questioned whether he could cut it on clay when he reached his first French Open final in 1984.

He took the first two sets against Ivan Lendl, who had lost all four of his previous major finals, but things unravelled as McEnroe's famous short temper got the better of him.

Lendl triumphed 3-6 2-6 6-4 7-5 7-5 for his first of eight grand slam singles titles, three of which came in Paris. McEnroe never made a Roland Garros final again, although he did win at Wimbledon and the US Open – his last major victories – later in the year.

Franco Smith has been appointed as Italy head coach after leading the Azzurri during the curtailed 2020 Six Nations. 

Smith took the reins on an interim basis last November after Conor O'Shea stepped down from the role following the Rugby World Cup. 

The former Springbok was to take charge while the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) searched for a long-term appointment to be made by July 1 this year. 

But Smith, who oversaw three Six Nations defeats before the championship was halted amid the coronavirus pandemic, has landed the job following an FIR federal council meeting. 

The 47-year-old will continue to be assisted by a coaching team that also includes Giampiero De Carli and Marius Goosen.

Smith's contract will reportedly run until after the 2023 World Cup in France.

Roberto Mancini acknowledges Juventus have an advantage in Serie A's title run-in, but he expects the Scudetto race to go to the wire and believes Inter still have a chance.

Juve lead Lazio by a point ahead of the planned June 20 resumption of the top-flight season in Italy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bianconeri beat Inter in their most recent match on March 8, leaving the Nerazzurri - contenders for much of the campaign - nine points adrift with a game in hand.

But Italy coach Mancini has noted the unpredictable results since Germany's Bundesliga returned, with a series of shock away wins in recent weeks.

The former Inter boss believes similar surprises could follow in Serie A, potentially bringing the San Siro side back into the mix, although he thinks Juve's strength in depth makes them favourites.

"Lazio and Juve will play until the end," Mancini told Rai Sport.

"But since they started playing in the Bundesliga, the home field factor has actually been wiped out. I think that Inter can still have possibilities. In my opinion, there may be some surprises.

"But then it is clear that Juve have an advantage because they have a very large squad."

Mancini is anticipating some struggles as football returns, adding: "All the coaches will have a bit of a problem. The players have come from two months of home training.

"Returning to work on the pitch and resuming playing immediately with competitive games will not be easy.

"The tempo of the matches is much slower. German football does not have the tempo that we are seeing and, in the first games, I think that even in Italy we will not have an extraordinary tempo."

World Rugby has ruled out the possibility of holding an international invitational tournament in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2021 to provide relief following the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron had proposed the one-off 16-team competition to raise money "for keeping the game of rugby alive around the world", with sport suspended in recent months due to the global crisis.

The event, held in the UK in order to avoid disrupting France's 2023 Rugby World Cup preparations, would see 31 matches across June and July and prompt the postponement of the British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa.

The suggested tournament - dubbed the 'Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby' as Baron revealed his plan to the Telegraph - would reportedly aim to bring in up to £250million to support the sport as it recovers from the pandemic.

However, the  idea has been dismissed by governing body World Rugby.

A statement read: "World Rugby notes a proposal by former RFU CEO Francis Baron suggesting the organisation of a major international rugby event in the UK in 2021 to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on global rugby.

"World Rugby does not intend to pursue such a proposal.

"All stakeholders continue to progress productive discussions regarding the immediate global COVID-19 financial relief strategy and international rugby calendar optimisation, both of which will further the success of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France."

World Rugby has already postponed all July Tests and set aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.

Ten of the leading international rugby union teams are exploring the possibility of a new aligned schedule.

South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina - the nations that make up SANZAAR - and the half a dozen countries that compete in the Six Nations are aiming to collaborate for the sport's benefit.

Several unions have been affected by the impact of coronavirus, with World Rugby having postponed all July Tests and setting aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.

Now discussions are ongoing between SANZAAR and Six Nations boards over a new calendar designed to limit club-versus-country rows and create more lucrative games between the world's best teams.

A joint statement read: "Even though there may be different preferences, from the outset the nations have adopted a mindset that has sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise that the international and club game have shared mutual benefits that if approached and managed correctly can enable both to flourish."

It added: "The nations, together with other key stakeholders, remain open to shape the options that have been developed in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years and are committed to putting rugby on a progressive path."

Last month World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont suggested a Nations Championship - similar to cricket's recently formed ICC Test Championship - could get off the ground after being met with initial resistance.

 

May 22 was a memorable day for fans of Inter and Jose Mourinho.

A decade ago, the Portuguese led the Nerazzurri to a treble by beating Bayern Munich in the 2010 Champions League final.

That was a fine achievement for Italian sport, though the country's rugby union team were certainly not celebrating after being thrashed by New Zealand in the opening game of the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987.

Here we take a look at major events that happened on May 22 in previous years.

 

1987 - The Rugby World Cup arrives

Though the annual Home Nations (now the Six Nations, of course) has been staged in some form since the 1880s, it took over a century for the powers-that-be to form a truly global rugby union tournament.

In 1987, 16 nations headed for New Zealand and Australia for the first ever Rugby World Cup.

The opening game pitted the All Blacks against Italy, with the co-hosts storming to a 70-6 triumph.

In fairness to Italy, New Zealand breezed past most opponents that year, swatting aside Scotland, Wales and France in the knockout rounds en route to lifting the trophy in Auckland.

2003 - PGA Tour test for Sorenstam 

Annika Sorenstam became the first woman to play a PGA Tour event in 58 years in 2003.

Her participation in the Bank of America Colonial was met with strong disapproval from multiple major winner Vijay Singh, though spectators were certainly receptive to the Swede as she carded a one-over 71 in her first round.

Yet a second-round 74 meant Sorenstam missed the cut by four shots.

Speaking afterwards, an emotional Sorenstam said she would not play another PGA Tour event again.

 

2010 - Milito brace gives Mourinho and Inter another trophy

No Italian team had ever won a treble until 2009-10, as Mourinho's Inter won Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

The final trophy in the set was delivered in Madrid, where Diego Milito scored both goals in a 2-0 triumph over Bayern Munich.

Mourinho became the third manager, after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld, to win the European Cup/Champions League with two different teams, having earlier done so in his career with Porto.

He would soon be calling the Spanish capital home too, leaving Inter to take charge of Real Madrid shortly after the final.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini believes Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo can develop into an "extraordinary player".

Zaniolo, 20, has impressed since arriving at Roma from Inter in 2018, although he suffered a serious knee injury in January.

But Mancini feels the five-time Italy international can become a star if he remains focused.

"If he continues to train seriously and make an athlete's life, he could become an extraordinary player," he told Roma TV.

"He is young and does not yet have many Serie A matches in the legs, so that not all responsibility falls on him.

"I think he has not yet found his role. He can do two or three. He is one of those young players who with another year will be able to improve, will recover from the injury."

Zaniolo was set to miss Euro 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic meant the tournament was pushed back to next year.

Giorgio Chiellini has revealed he was quick to forgive Luis Suarez after the striker bit him because he sees a lot of himself in the Uruguay striker.

The incident occurred in a group game at the 2014 World Cup, with Suarez stunning a worldwide television audience by committing the third biting offence of his career.

But Chiellini, despite calling for action to be taken at the time, was sympathetic towards Suarez when FIFA imposed a four-month ban on the then Liverpool player.

And now the Juventus and Italy captain has disclosed why he feels a kinship with Suarez.

Chiellini wrote in a new autobiography, quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Nothing strange happened that day. I had marked [Edinson] Cavani for most of the game, another attacker who was difficult to handle, then suddenly I noticed that Suarez had bitten my shoulder.

"It happened, and this is his way of dealing with direct confrontations, and, if I can say it, it is also mine: he and I are alike and I like to face challenges in this way. I admire his malice, if he lost it he would become a normal striker."

Chiellini said he and Suarez spoke days after their June 2014 clash, which came in a game Uruguay won to advance beyond the group stage at the expense of Italy.

"After a couple of days we spoke again on the phone and there was no need to apologise," Chiellini said.

"I am a great son of a b**** on the pitch as well and I am proud of it: malice is part of football, I don't even call it impropriety. You have to be smart and I have always admired Suarez."

Suarez has gone on to join Barcelona and become a mainstay with the Camp Nou giants, putting the biting controversies behind him, after previous offences while at Ajax and Liverpool.

Roberto Mancini hopes Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo can become an important player for Italy.

Zaniolo was set to miss Euro 2020 after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in January, but the 20-year-old could benefit from the tournament being pushed back by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The highly rated Zaniolo has scored two goals in five games for Italy and coach Mancini believes he could develop into a vital player for his country.

"Zaniolo may be a very important player. He is also very young, he will have one more year to improve," he told Rai Sport on Friday.

"My hope is to have all the players available and have difficulty in making choices.

"I think the team can improve. We came from many games played well and won and there was great enthusiasm. It would have been great to play now."

Mancini has helped turn Italy around since taking over in 2018, leading them to 13 wins in 19 games in charge.

The former Inter and Manchester City coach had Italy as among the favourites for the European Championship, but acknowledged the postponement changed things.

"There will be difficulties because this is something that has never happened before," Mancini said.

"Starting again will not be easy."

Marco Tardelli has expressed his disappointment over Giorgio Chiellini's "harsh" comments about Mario Balotelli and Felipe Melo.

Chiellini, who is releasing a new book, accused Mario Balotelli of being "a negative person" who "deserved a slap" for his conduct when part of Italy's squad at the 2013 Confederations Cup.

The Juventus defender was even more brutal when it came to his ex-club team-mate Felipe Melo, calling him "the worst of the worst" and revealing he told the team's management the midfielder was "a rotten apple".

Both players promptly hit back at Chiellini, who also expressed his hatred for rivals Inter. Balotelli insisted he had never disrespected the Italy shirt and slammed the Juve man for not telling him to his face, while Melo branded the veteran "unprofessional".

Tardelli spent 10 seasons with Juve and then two with Inter to conclude his Serie A career, while he won the World Cup with Italy in 1982.

He reacted to Chiellini's words on Twitter, posting: "I am truly disappointed by the statements by Giorgio Chiellini, captain of the national team, Juventus and a leading man on the AIC [Italian Footballers' Association] board.

"Harsh words towards team-mates - colleagues who should consider him a point of reference.

"The hatred declared towards another club creates hatred. Respect for the opponent even in the toughest fight, that is what I learned from captains like Dino Zoff and Gaetano Scirea."

Mario Balotelli and Felipe Melo fired back at stinging criticism from Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Chiellini was scathing of his former team-mates – the Juve captain accusing Balotelli of being "a negative person", while adding the Italian forward deserved a slap during the 2013 Confederations Cup.

Brescia star Balotelli hit back at the comments made in Chiellini's new autobiography via social media on Saturday.

"At least I have the sincerity and courage to say things to your face," Balotelli wrote on Instagram, tagging Chiellini.

"Since 2013 you've had a lot of chances to act like a real man, but you haven't. Who knows what you'll say one day about your current team-mates.

"A strange captain... if this is what being a champion is then I'd prefer not to be one. I've never disrespected the Azzurri shirt."

Chiellini, 35, was more brutal when it came to assessing former Juve colleague Melo – the Brazilian midfielder who played for the Bianconeri from 2009 to 2011 before eventually joining Serie A rivals Inter.

"Even worse was Felipe Melo: the worst of the worst. There was always a fight with him. I also told the managers: he's a rotten apple," Chiellini wrote.

Melo – who now plays for Palmeiras – told Gazzetta dello Sport: "It would be interesting to know what incident he's referring to. I don't have a problem responding to him.

"I never disrespected anyone in Turin, but he says that Balotelli deserved a slap and that I was the worst of the worst and that there was always a threat of a fight because of me.

"He always pissed himself. I'm sorry, but it's easy to speak badly of others in a book.

"Perhaps he's still angry because when I went to Galatasaray we knocked them out of the Champions League and we beat Italy with Brazil.

"He's won nothing at international level and saying things like this shows him to be unprofessional.

"It shows a lack of respect and I won't say any more. Some things have to stay in the dressing room."

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