The Crusaders blitzed the Hurricanes 39-25 to open their Super Rugby Aotearoa season in ruthless fashion.

Visitors the Crusaders ran in five tries to one to claim the bonus point at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Sunday.

Two late tries from Richie Mo'unga and replacement David Havili ensured Super Rugby champions the Crusaders left New Zealand's capital with the points.

The Hurricanes were right in contention with 15 minutes remaining against the Crusaders, the scores level at 25-apiece.

However, errors proved costly for the winless Hurricanes – who slumped to their second defeat from two games in the domestic Super Rugby competition following the coronavirus crisis.

Kobus van Wyk's mistake helped Mo'unga and the Crusaders break the deadlock 12 minutes from the end before Havili sealed the win.

Sevu Reece, Brayden Ennor and Jack Goodhue had scored first-half tries for the Crusaders, while Jackson Garden-Bachop's 20 points kept the Hurricanes in the mix.

Beauden Barrett helped the Blues shift through the gears and shake off the Chiefs in a 24-12 Super Rugby Aotearoa triumph - their first in Hamilton since 2011.

The Blues scored the only try of the first half, Hoskins Sotutu burrowing over after his fellow forwards laid siege to the Chiefs line.

That score was largely against the run of the opening 40 minutes, with Damian McKenzie's unerring boot keeping the Chiefs in touch as their opponents' penalty count mounted.

Goalkicker Otere Black made way for the Blues after the hour, allowing Barrett to move forward to fly-half.

The switch paid instant dividends as the All Blacks superstar landed a 64th-minute drop goal. Five minutes later, his penalty opened up a seven-point advantage.

The Blues did not look back from that point and Mark Telea finished brilliantly in the corner to make the game safe.

Barrett was unable to add the extras from the touchline but his influence had already proved decisive in securing a franchise record fifth consecutive win away from home.

June 20 is a day LeBron James will remember fondly, World Cup finals were settled and arguably the most famous penalty technique was first introduced. 

James was once again the king of Miami after leading the Heat to NBA glory in a thrilling series against the San Antonio Spurs. 

New Zealand made history at the first Rugby World Cup, while this day also saw Australia completely dominant in cricket's showpiece event.

Look back at some fond moments from years gone by on this day. 


1976 - The Panenka is born as Czechoslovakia celebrate

Defending European champions and reigning World Cup holders West Germany were overwhelming favourites for the final of Euro 1976. 

While Jan Svehlik and Karol Dobias put Czechoslovakia into a two-goal lead after 25 minutes, Dieter Muller and Bernd Holzenbein both scored to force extra-time in a 2-2 draw. 

When the additional minutes could not split the teams, a penalty shoot-out was required. Uli Hoeness' miss presented Antonin Panenka with a golden opportunity to seal glory.

His long run-up and delicate chip deceived goalkeeper Sepp Maier, leading to the birth of the famous Panenka penalty and earning a 5-3 victory shoot-out victory.


1987 - New Zealand win first final 

A near 50,000-strong crowd roared New Zealand on to victory on home soil at Eden Park in the first ever Rugby World Cup final. 

The fearsome All Blacks were too good for Scotland and Wales in the previous knockout rounds, but France had stunned Australia to provide hope of an upset. 

Instead, it was one-way traffic. Michael Jones, captain David Kirk and John Kirwan scored tries in a convincing 29-9 win over Les Bleus.  

Surprisingly, New Zealand would not be crowned champions again until 2011. 


1999 – Australia Lord it over Pakistan

The 1999 Cricket World Cup final was about as one-sided as it gets as Australia thrashed Pakistan by eight wickets. 

An enigmatic Pakistan side were skittled for a meagre 132 in 39 overs after surprisingly opting to bat first at Lord's, leg-spinner Shane Warne returning figures of 4-33. 

Australia – led by Steve Waugh - rattled off the chase with a whopping 29.5 overs to spare, Adam Gilchrist celebrating a half-century in the process. 

It marked the first of three consecutive World Cup triumphs for the Australians, as they reigned again under the captaincy of Ricky Ponting in both 2003 and 2007. 


2013 – LeBron's Heat reign again after Spurs epic

For the second straight year, LeBron James was named NBA Finals MVP as the Miami Heat retained their title by defeating the Spurs. 

It was the third straight year a star-studded Heat roster including Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had made it through to the Finals. 

A see-saw series had seen the Spurs lead on three occasions but a dramatic 103-100 overtime win in Game 6, considered by many to be one of the great playoff contests in NBA history, set up a decider. 

James duly put up a game-high 37 points and provided 12 rebounds and four assists in a 95-88 triumph. 

The Spurs would gain revenge a year later, which proved to be James' last season in Miami as he returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team who had drafted him first overall in 2003. 

August 22 is the target date for the Pro14 season to resume with derby clashes, five months after the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis. 

It was agreed at a board meeting on June 9 that the aim should be for the action to resume in two months' time. 

There are set to be two rounds of derby matches in all five territories late in August, with the final planned for September 12. 

The top two teams in Conference A and B will qualify for the semi-finals following a regular season that is to be reduced from 21 games to 15. 

Matches that were postponed before the indefinite suspension of the campaign in March will go down as 0-0 draws. 

Derby showdowns for teams in Ireland and Wales have not yet been confirmed. 

Tournament director David Jordan said: "Safety has been, and will continue to be, the highest priority as we look to activate our plans to restart the 2019/20 season.

"We are very fortunate to be in a position where everyone involved is confident that we can conclude the season on the field of play.

"The work and diligence of our leading medical personnel at our unions, our clubs, World Rugby and key stakeholders to get us to this point has been immense.

"Operating across five territories often brings different complexities to the Pro14 but our unions have worked hard to bring proposals to their governments so we may put plans into action."

Tiger Woods did not only win the 2000 U.S. Open on June 18, he did so having obliterated the rest of the field.

Two decades ago, no one could get near to Woods and his record-breaking performance at Pebble Beach.

Mike Catt got much closer to Jonah Lomu five years earlier, not that he was able to stop him, while Eoin Morgan was delivering his own dominant performance on June 18, 2019.

Here we take a look at three major sporting events to have occurred on June 18 in previous years.

 

1995 - Lomu steamrollers England

Lomu delivered perhaps the finest individual performance at a Rugby World Cup match when starring for New Zealand against England in the 1995 semi-final.

The wing scored four tries as the All Blacks won 45-29 against an England side that simply could not contain the All Blacks' number 11.

His first score was the best, as Lomu collected a ball that bounced behind him, held off two England players and then dismissively ploughed over Catt when off-balance before dotting down.

In another incredible demonstration of speed, Lomu crossed for the fourth time when side-stepping Catt to leave the England back grasping at air.

 

2000 - Woods goes wire-to-wire at Pebble Beach

Stating Woods was the wire-to-wire winner at the 2000 U.S. Open only begins to explain his dominance given his eventual major record 15-stroke advantage.

Woods arrived at the 100th U.S. Open as a two-time major champion and a third looked assured even before the weekend as he had a six-shot lead after 36 holes.

Only playing against himself by the Sunday, Woods parred the opening nine holes before reeling off four birdies in five holes en route to a final-round 67. It was the first of four majors in a row that Woods would win - which became known as the 'Tiger Slam'.

 

2019 - Aerial Eoin dismantles Afghanistan attack

Prior to hosting the World Cup on home soil in 2019, England players had mused on the possibility of becoming the first team in ODI history to score 500 runs.

It did not quite happen, but the reason for such optimism was evident when they took Afghanistan's attack apart in making 397-6 in a group-stage game at Old Trafford.

Several records did fall as captain Morgan made the most sixes in an ODI (17), England accrued the most maximums in an ODI (25) while poor Rashid Khan went for 0-110 off his nine overs.

Morgan, who would end up lifting the trophy later that tournament, finished with a frankly ridiculous 148 from 71 balls before England claimed a 150-run success.

Izack Rodda has joined Lyon just over a month after his Reds departure was confirmed.

Rugby Australia (RA) and the Reds released Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings from their contracts following a pay dispute in May.

Rodda, who has won 25 caps for Australia, refused to accept a reduced salary amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 23-year-old lock was on Wednesday confirmed as a Lyon player along with number eight Gillian Galan, who makes the move from Toulouse.

Mathieu Bastareaud has also joined the Top 14 side along with Colby Fainga'a, Joe Taufete'e and Leo Berdeu.

Lyon were second in the table when the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu has signed a new deal with New Zealand Rugby until the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

It was announced on Monday that the New Zealand lock has agreed terms on the back of the Blues' 30-20 victory over the Hurricanes at a packed Eden Park on the opening weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The 27-year-old has won 30 caps for the All Blacks and played 74 times for Auckland franchise the Blues since making his debut in 2014.

"I am pleased to continue to play for New Zealand Rugby and the Blues until 2023 and I'm excited about the future," said Tuipulotu.

"During the [coronavirus] lockdown I realised more than ever how much I love this game and love playing for the Blues. We are beginning to develop into a really good side and it is an honour to lead them.

"I am still young and learning all the time, and I want to establish myself as an international player."

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said: "This is fantastic news for New Zealand Rugby and the Blues.

"Patrick has grown considerably over the last few years, both on the field as a player and off field with his captaincy and leadership.

"The fact that he has re-signed through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup is a sign of not only NZ Rugby's commitment to him, but also Patty's desire to achieve his own goals in New Zealand over the next few years.

"We congratulate him on making that commitment."

John Morris was "totally blind-sided" by reports that he is under pressure after Eddie Jones was linked with the Cronulla Sharks job.

Sharks coach Morris was stunned to hear that his position could be under threat following an NRL victory over North Queensland Cowboys last week.

It was then reported that England head coach Eddie Jones was being lined up for a sensational code switch to replace the 39-year-old Morris.

A 30-16 defeat to St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday led to Morris being probed about talk of Jones taking his job, but he was defiant after the Sharks dropped to 14th in the ladder.

"I'm a young coach, that's for sure, but I think everyone across the game can appreciate the challenges I've had in the first 12 months," Morris said.

"We've had massive challenges around the club with the salary cap fine. We've had to let players go as a result of that.

"We played finals football last year in my first year as a rookie coach, so I don't want to sit here and feel sorry for myself or anything like that, but I think I've done a really good job so far and I've had a lot of injuries as well. 

"We still can't put our main side on the park at the moment. The Eddie Jones stuff obviously caught me by surprise and did a lot of people. I'm contracted until the end of 2021, so I can't read too much into that read.

"Speculation and rumour, I can't let that distract on me, I'm focused on this playing group and getting them going, we had a really good win up in North Queensland last week and we wanted to get better this week, but we obviously slipped up today."

Morris called for the club to back him after he was pressed further on his future in the post-match news conference.

He added: "You'd have to speak to the club, there has been no mention at all to me about my position, it came from left field after our win last week against the Cowboys.

"We were singing the team song in the sheds and it's reported that my job was under pressure, so that's totally blind-sided me. 

"But one thing is I've got a really good bond with the playing group and all of our staff and we're working real hard. We've got some unprecedented challenges around our club at the moment and we are all working as hard as we can to get through that.

"We had to release Matt Prior before the season even started due to the salary cap, we let Josh Morris go. We've had some challenges there and I think the more the club can support me in these challenging times, the better we'll be in the long run."

Beauden Barrett revelled in a "celebration of rugby" as he made a winning start to his Blues career against his former team the Hurricanes at a packed Eden Park on Sunday.

Barrett had a long time to wait for his Blues bow, but the two-time World Rugby player of the year started at full-back in a 30-20 triumph over the franchise he left to move to Auckland.

A sell-out crowd of 43,000 in New Zealand witnessed the eagerly-awaited match on the first weekend of the Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Barrett was relieved to make his first appearance for Leon MacDonald's side in a tournament that was arranged after the regular Super Rugby season could not be completed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "It's good to get it done and out of the way.

"Obviously there was that emotional hurdle to get over playing against all my mates, as well as starting a new chapter in my career. Very proud of the start and the effort from our boys tonight."

He added: "It was about rugby being back and about everyone coming together to support this team… just a celebration of rugby.

"It's fantastic to be back playing and to see the support. We were absolutely blown away by the support. Hopefully we can get that again when we're back in a couple of weeks."

Barrett managed to see the funny side when his former team-mates got him in the middle of their celebrations for a Dan Coles try, which he could not prevent with a saving tackle.

"That just happened in slow motion," a laughing Barrett said.

"It was almost like it was meant to be, so fair play to him. He's [Coles] pretty good in the wide channels, so a guy like him should be able to finish against someone like me."

Tries from Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane and Dalton Papali'i and 15 points from the boot of Otere Black proved enough for the Blues to secure victory.

Former Australia wing Henry Speight has left the Reds to join Biarritz Olympique on a three-year deal.

The Queensland Rugby Union agreed to release the 32-year-old flyer from his contract and he will be playing in the Rugby Pro D2 next season.

Speight switched to the Reds on a two-year deal late in 2019 after a long spell with the Brumbies and a short stint with Ulster, but looks set to end his career in France.

He said: "I would like to take the opportunity to say a heartfelt and enormous thank you to the entire organisation that is the Queensland Reds.

"Firstly, the opportunity to experience an elite rugby programme which is surrounded and upheld by quality people, who have a genuine care for the person and the professional.

"This group and the organisation have demonstrated that the Reds are a destination club that will allow players to be their absolute best and the strong culture here is something that I know that I will deeply miss.

"My family and I are unbelievably grateful that, from the board down, our request was dealt with respect and that the organisation was ultimately sympathetic to the opportunity that lies in front of us.

"I know that this place has an exciting future and I look forward to being able to say with enormous pride that I pulled on the Queensland Reds jersey, when the organisation achieves the success that it deserves."

The Blues powered to a 30-20 win over the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Aotearoa at a sold-out Eden Park on Sunday.

Even without All Blacks great Dan Carter, the Blues got off to a winning start as the New Zealand domestic competition continued amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Otere Black contributed 15 points with the boot for the Blues, who like their opponents crossed for three tries.

Caleb Clarke went over early for the Blues before Dane Coles responded in the corner, only for TJ Faiane – converted by Black – to send the hosts into a 14-8 lead.

The Hurricanes went into half-time trailing 14-13 thanks to a try from Ben Lam, but the Blues – with Beauden Barrett making his debut for the team against his former side – dominated the second half.

After Dalton Papalii extended the Blues' lead, the boot of Black pushed them into a 30-13 advantage as they scored 16 unanswered points.

Jamie Booth went over late for the Hurricanes, but the Blues had sealed their win by that stage.

Warren Gatland took no comfort from the fact it was his son Bryn who condemned the Chiefs to a dramatic last-gasp defeat on Super Rugby's return.

Buoyant spectators at Forsyth Barr Stadium, where a capacity crowd of over 22,000 gathered after New Zealand lifted coronavirus restrictions, saw replacement full-back Bryn Gatland nail a 79th-minute drop goal to give the Highlanders a thrilling 28-27 victory.

The Chiefs had hit the front for the first time since the opening exchanges a minute earlier when Damian McKenzie split the posts, but Gatland was left to rue his side failing to make the most of two spells against 14 men and plenty of second-half territory.

For now at least, the proud father act is on hold.

"I'm not happy that we lost the game but well done to him," Chiefs coach Gatland told reporters.

"I don't care if he's my son or not. I'll go away and have a look at that but I'm still disappointed in the result."

Bryn Gatland was a late addition to the Highlanders' bench following an injury to Josh Ioane – information he was able to keep from his father until an awkward moment during a family dinner on Friday.

"I found out on Thursday and then had dinner last night with him and Mum," Bryn Gatland said.

"Halfway through dinner he got a text and he looked at me and said, 'Are you on the bench tomorrow?'.

"I didn't want to give the gameplan away!"

The pair then talked somewhat prophetically about how events might unfold.

Former Wales boss Gatland revealed: "We had a joke, and he said, 'I've got a feeling I'm going to come on and kick the winning drop goal'.

"I'm not happy about the result, but he showed a bit of calmness there and he's done that in the past and won games in clutch moments.

"Unfortunately we gave him that opportunity and in fairness he was able to step up to the plate and deliver for them."

Bryn Gatland sensationally claimed the family bragging rights as his drop goal gave the Highlanders a 28-27 win over the Chiefs in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Gatland's father Warren looked set to celebrate victory and spoil the party at a buoyant Forsyth Barr Stadium, where supporters were jubilant throughout – New Zealand's government having lifted restrictions this week after declaring the country no longer had any known active cases of coronavirus.

But Damian McKenzie's close-range drop goal to put the visitors ahead in the 78th minute was met with an immediate response as the Highlanders' replacement full-back nailed a response from 40 yards.

Aaron Mauger's men rose to a special occasion from the off, with Ash Dixon the beneficiary of a well-constructed lineout drive in the 16th minute.

Rob Thompson found a wonderful line off a short pass from scrum-half Aaron Smith to set up his fellow centre Sio Tomkinson – Mitch Hunt's conversion opening up a 15-6 lead for the Highlanders midway through the first half.

The Chiefs found a brilliant response, with Sean Wainui released by Quinn Tupaea to touch down and McKenzie adding the extras from out wide.

Debutant Vilimoni Koroi was sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle on Naitoa Ah Kuoi but number eight Marino Mikaele Tu'u made light of the Highlanders' numerical disadvantage by going over to cap a thrilling half.

After the break, the new rules concerning the breakdown meant frequent penalty infringements and a fracturing of the game's earlier pleasing flow.

Jona Nareki became the second Highlanders man to visit the bin and Anton Lienert-Brown brought the Chiefs to within a point with eight minutes to play.

McKenzie, who finished with 17 points, dragged his conversion wide before responding in style as he looked to have become the matchwinner. However, Gatland Jr had other ideas.

A sell-out crowd will be in attendance for the Blues' Super Rugby Aotearoa opener against the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Sunday.

The Blues announced on Saturday that they had sold 43,000 tickets – the capacity for the crowd in Auckland – after New Zealand lifted coronavirus restrictions this week.

Restrictions on mass gathering and social-distancing measures ended from midnight Monday, with no limit on crowd numbers at stadiums.

The 10-week domestic version of Super Rugby, which is taking place in lieu of the proper competition that was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will get underway when the Highlanders face the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday.

And a capacity crowd will be in the stands for the Blues' return to Eden Park for the visit of the Hurricanes.

Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said: "It was only a few weeks ago that we were planning for a competition behind closed doors. When we got the news during the week that fans could come, we always wanted to do our part in terms of ticket pricing because we know that many of our fans have been doing it hard.

"I want to recognise the mammoth job from everyone involved in being able to turn an event of this size around in less than a week.

"This will be a special occasion that everyone will remember and a celebration of what New Zealand has achieved as a nation to get to this stage.

"The key now is for everyone to understand that this is a huge crowd, so please leave plenty of time to get to and from the stadium because we be undertaking contact tracing. Please check the AT site for your travel information and remember to be patient."

Montpellier have confirmed the signing of South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach on a three-year deal.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup winner was reported to be bound for France when he announced he would leave Northampton Saints at the end of this season back in January.

With the Premiership not resuming until August at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic and Reinach's contract expiring at the end of June, the 30-year-old has played his last game for Saints.

Montpellier on Friday announced that Reinach will showcase his talents in the Top 14.

"Cobus is a world champion, with outstanding athletic qualities," said Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa.

"He is very skilled, both in kicking and passing."

Reinach, who spent three years with Northampton, has been capped 14 times by the Springboks and made two appearances in their World Cup triumph in Japan last year.

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