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.

 

Scotland back Ruaridh Jackson has announced his retirement.

The 32-year-old Glasgow Warriors star confirmed the news in an Instagram post on Monday.

Jackson featured 33 times for his country and declared he had lived his "childhood dream".

He is now set to pursue a new career in the drinks industry.

"It is not the fairytale ending I may have dreamed about, but I want to say a huge thank you," he wrote on Instagram.

"I have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of, but it is now time to embrace a new challenge.

"I have been so fortunate to live out my childhood dream of playing rugby, not just professionally but for my country.

"It has been a journey that has allowed me to travel the world, make some incredible friends and, without doubt, has given me some of the happiest days of my life.

"I have played at some amazing clubs: Wasps, Harlequins and, of course, two stints at Glasgow Warriors, which will always hold a special place in my heart. The supporters will be one of the things I will miss most."

Jackson debuted for Scotland in 2010 against New Zealand and went on to score 37 points on the international stage.

Having started out with Glasgow, he returned to the club in 2017 following spells with Wasps and Harlequins. 

World Rugby has taken the decision to postpone all international rugby matches scheduled for July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reigning Rugby World Cup holders South Africa had been due to face Scotland and Georgia, while England were set to tour Japan and New Zealand had been scheduled to host Wales and Scotland.

However, all of those matches, and Ireland's tour of Australia, have been postponed with no new dates set.

A statement from World Rugby read: "Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.

"Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and the respective authorities.  

"All parties, including member unions, international competitions, professional club competitions and International Rugby Players, will be involved in the evaluation of potential contingency options with a view to achieving an aligned calendar for the remainder of the year.

"All decision-making will be entirely contingent on national government travel, quarantine and health advice and important player welfare and hosting considerations in line with return-to-rugby guidance recently published by World Rugby."

Rugby Australia's general manager Ben Whitaker had previously suggested that games could be rescheduled for October.

International rugby has been on hold since March when the Six Nations was halted with four matches still to play.

The financial impact of having no games has already severely impacted the unions in Australia and the USA, with World Rugby having set up a $100million relief fund.

 

April 14 is a date defined by the unexpected in the world of sport.

From a unique edition of one of rugby's most famous competitions, to an Anfield turnaround that defied belief, sporting events on this date have produced their fair share of surprises.

It is also a date that will be forever etched in the memory of arguably the greatest golfer of all time.

Here we look back at some of the best sporting moments to take place on April 14.

1973: France failure ensures five-way tie

April 14, 1973 was the day on which an anomaly in the long and storied history of the Five and Six Nations was secured.

A tournament that saw all five teams struggle for consistency came to a close in Dublin. France had the championship in their sights after seeing off defending champions Wales in their previous encounter.

That victory left them as the only team capable of winning the title outright. Triumph at Lansdowne Road was needed to seal it but, in extremely windy conditions, inaccuracy from the tee cost them.

France missed three penalties and a conversion as Ireland claimed a 6-4 win that ensured every team finished on four points. The lack of a tiebreaker meant there could be no outright winner, with all five teams claiming a share of the championship. Had there been a points difference tiebreaker, Wales would have again prevailed.

2016: Klopp knocks out Dortmund in famous Liverpool comeback

Six months on from taking over at Liverpool, Klopp was reunited with the club where he made his name in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The last-eight tie with Borussia Dortmund was finely poised after a 1-1 draw at Signal Iduna Park.

It was Dortmund that appeared poised to progress to the semi-finals, though, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them a 2-0 lead.

Divock Origi pulled one back for Liverpool three minutes into the second half but Marco Reus looked to have put the tie beyond doubt, his effort leaving the Reds needing three goals to progress.

However, a rasping low drive from Philippe Coutinho gave Anfield hope and Mamadou Sakho's close-range header in the 77th minute set the stage for a grandstand finish. Dejan Lovren proved the unlikely hero as he towered to turn home James Milner's cross in the 91st minute.

Liverpool went on to defeat Villarreal in the semi-finals but were denied in the showpiece in Basel as Sevilla claimed a 3-1 win.

2019: Tiger caps comeback with remarkable Masters win

One of sport's greatest comeback stories was completed on this day at Augusta last year.

Most had doubted whether Tiger Woods would ever recapture the form that saw him win 14 majors after his well-documented back problems.

Yet, the closest challenger to Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18 inched one closer with the kind of performance many considered consigned to history to win his fifth green jacket.

Woods began the final day two strokes behind Francesco Molinari, but a captivating final day tilted firmly in his favour on the 15th.

Molinari sent his tee shot into the trees and then found the water with a misplaced lay-up, eventually making double bogey.

Woods, by contrast, birdied from two feet to take the outright lead, with a sensational tee shot at 16 leaving him a short putt for a two-stroke advantage.

He made par at 17 to ensure a bogey would be enough on the last, and there would be no last-gasp slip-up, Woods standing on the 18th green with his arms aloft in celebration of a triumph few thought possible.

Scottish Rugby will discuss a salary reduction scheme with high-earning players and staff members as they deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body has confirmed it will continue to do whatever possible to support all clubs, though income streams are "badly affected" with no games staged at Murrayfield as the season remains suspended.

Scotland may also be unable to complete tours to South Africa and New Zealand in July, while there are even concerns over their home internationals scheduled for November, when they are due to play against Argentina, Japan and the All Blacks.

Fearing a potential loss of expected revenue in excess of £12million, chief executive Mark Dodson has agreed to take a 30 per cent pay cut until at least the start of September, while head coach Gregor Townsend agreed to a 25 per cent decrease last month.

A proportion of Scottish Rugby's staff will be placed into the government's furlough scheme, while players will be consulted over the possibility of reducing their wages as the organisation tries to cut costs amid the global health crisis.

"Our players and our coaches cannot fulfil any fixtures and the money we normally expect to make from the professional and international game at this time of the year, and over the summer, has all but disappeared due to the challenges beyond our control," Dodson said in a statement.

"No one knows with any certainty when any rugby can resume.

"We have seen many, many examples of our staff, clubs and players across the country supporting their local communities and demonstrating rugby's values in daily life.

"Rugby makes a positive contribution to society and it is this positivity and our whole sport working collectively that will give us the best opportunity to come through this crisis, safely, together."

Former Scotland captain Dougie Morgan, who went on to coach the team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, has died at the age of 73.

The announcement came from Scottish Rugby, which said Morgan died in an Edinburgh hospital on Saturday after a long illness.

Morgan came to the fore as a scrum-half who won 21 caps for Scotland from 1973 to 1978 and twice played for the British and Irish Lions, both times on the 1977 tour of New Zealand.

Scottish Rugby said it was "immensely saddened" to learn of his death.

As head coach, Morgan led Scotland to the World Cup quarter-finals in 1995, their campaign ending with a 48-30 defeat to New Zealand in Pretoria.

The Scots also threatened a Five Nations Grand Slam in the same year but Morgan's men lost to England at Twickenham in the championship decider.

Morgan went on to serve as team manager after Ian McGeechan took over as head coach.

McGeechan told scottishrugby.org: "On and off the field he was a great friend and companion. I have memories I will always cherish and be very thankful for knowing Dougie."

Former Scotland and Lions player and coach Jim Telfer hailed Morgan's "outstanding contribution to Scottish international rugby", describing him as "a true friend".

England's former captain Bill Beaumont said he was "deeply saddened" to learn of his former Lions team-mate's death.

Current Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Dougie was a hugely popular figure in his time as manager of the national team, someone who enjoyed having a laugh with the players, although he kept his natural competitive instinct whenever we took him on at pool or on the golf course.

"He has contributed a huge amount to Scottish rugby and he’ll be sorely missed.”

Australia coach Justin Langer is open to the idea of playing games behind closed doors once cricket can resume after the coronavirus pandemic.

Langer watched on as his side emphatically defeated New Zealand in a one-dayer played inside an empty Sydney Cricket Ground last month.

It was due to be the first of three matches between the trans-Tasman rivals, though the series was cut short due the COVID-19 outbreak as the Black Caps returned home in time to avoid quarantine restrictions.

While there is no immediate sign of a resumption to the international schedule, staging contests without any supporters could be a viable option in the future.

"The Australian cricket team are so fortunate to play in front of big crowds every time we play," Langer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"But for the love of the game, and for still being able to entertain people through TV sets or radio, then there's value in that (playing behind closed doors).

"Yes, it's different, but we'll never, ever, ever take for granted how lucky we are, ever again. We are so lucky in what we do."

Australia are due to play a two-Test series in Bangladesh in June, followed by a limited-overs tour to the United Kingdom that runs into July.

 

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has agreed to a "big" cut in his salary during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foster confirmed he and his fellow coaches have already reached an agreement with New Zealand Rugby, while discussions with players are also at an advanced stage.

"Our coaching group has definitely taken a big cut," Foster said to Newstalk ZB.

"That's already been agreed to - with rugby when there's no games, there's no revenue, and that's a tough thing. There's been a lot of shaving of the programmes inside and what it's also come down to is cutting.

"It's a different sort of process for players but I know they're willing to go into that space too.

"Theirs is a more complex [situation] - but it's a given and they understand that. It's just a matter of working it through so all the different levels of players are dealt with fairly.

"I haven't heard one player yet who doesn't accept that it's going to happen. There's a real willingness of those involved in the game to get behind this and do whatever it takes to make sure [the game] survives."

Foster believes the three home Test matches scheduled for July, two against Wales and another against Scotland, are unlikely to go ahead.

He wants the All Blacks players to maintain a base level of fitness, though conceded a "short period" would still be needed after the lockdown to up their levels to full match readiness.

"If you look at the probability, there's a reasonably good chance that international travel and borders won't be down across the world at that point, so in that case the All Blacks won't be playing in July,” he added.

"[If we keep players at peak fitness] they'll just blow out mentally and get really frustrated with that because there’s so much uncertainty.

"We want the players to settle down then we'll start expecting fitness levels to be at a certain point that when the lockdown finishes and we do start to think about a starting point for rugby again."

Scotland rugby union fans have been starved of success in recent times but March 27 is a date when they can always raise a glass to a moment of history.

Way back in 1871, Scotland beat neighbours England in the first ever international in Edinburgh.

It was also a memorable day in the NBA, with a record crowd in attendance as Michael Jordan starred at Georgia Dome in 1998.

Here, we take a look back at the some of the most notable sporting moments that occurred on this date down the years.

1871 - Buchanan and Scotland make history

A crowd of 4,000 flocked to Raeburn Place in Edinburgh to watch history be made.

It was the hosts who came out on top, scoring two tries and a goal to England's solitary try – with Scotland's Angus Buchanan the first man to touch down over the whitewash at international level.

There were two halves of 50 minutes apiece, with 20 players on each side and the contest decided by goals scored.

1998 – Bulls clip the Hawks' wings in front of record crowd 

Twenty-two years ago, 62,046 spectators watched on at the Georgia Dome as the Atlanta Hawks took on the Chicago Bulls.

It remains the largest crowd at any game in NBA history, having surpassed the record of 61,983 set at Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics in 1988.

Inspired by NBA icon Jordan, the Bulls downed their hosts 89-74.

2007 – Video replays introduced to help NFL officials

On March 27, 2007, NFL owners voted to utilise video replays as a tool to assist officials – the vote passed with 30 owners in favour of the move.

Cincinnati Bengals and the Arizona Cardinals did not agree to the use of replays, with each team paying up to $300,000 to have the necessary equipment fitted at their stadiums.

"It's a long time coming," said then-Atlanta Falcons general manager Rich McKay. "It made sense to us this year to do it. Instant replay is an accepted part of the game. It's what we are. There was not really much discussion about it."

In the same meeting, a proposal to allow a second interviewing window for assistant coaches on Super Bowl teams was approved, though it was decided defenses would not be allowed to use a coach-to-player communication device.

Few sporting events have been able to escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with public gatherings prohibited in many countries across the world.

So, with precious little live sporting events to keep fans entertained, many are looking to the past to satisfy those cravings.

Whether you hark back to specific 'Premier League Years', your favourite World Cups or that time your favourite tennis player lost in the Wimbledon final, nostalgia often has a big part to play in our love of sport.

Below, we picked out five noteworthy events from the world of sport that happened on this day – March 17.

 

1955 – The Richard Riot

Maurice Richard would not have known at the time just how much of an impact his actions on March 13, 1955 would have. A star of the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL, Richard struck a linesman during a match and was consequently banned for the rest of the season. Fans insisted it was too harsh, claiming the sanction was motivated by Richard's French-Canadian heritage. NHL president Clarence Campbell attended the Canadiens' next match and that sparked a riot, which was not contained to the Montreal Forum stadium. A reported $100,000 worth of damage was done, 37 people were injured and 100 arrests we made. Richard cooled the controversy as he accepted the punishment.

1977 – Australia win Centenary Test

Australia and England played out the Centenary Test on March 17, 1977, marking the 100th anniversary of what is considered to be the first Test cricket match. Starting on March 12 and concluding five days later, Australia won by 45 runs, the exact same margin of victory they recorded 100 years earlier.

1984 – Scotland end Five Nations wait

Scotland enjoyed a momentous day in rugby union on March 17, 1984. A 21-12 win over France at Murrayfield saw them clinch their first outright Five Nations win – and Triple Crown – since 1938, and their first Grand Slam since 1925, with Peter Dods' kicking proving decisive on the day. Scotland have only been the solitary winners of the competition – in either its previous guise or as the Six Nations – twice since.

2012 – Fabrice Muamba collapses in FA Cup match

English football was rocked on March 17, 2012, when Bolton Wanderers midfielder Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a televised FA Cup clash at Tottenham. The former England Under-21 player had suffered a cardiac arrest and it was later revealed his heart stopped for 78 minutes. Two days later, Muamba's heart was beating once again without assistance and he was eventually discharged from hospital on April 16. Although he had to retire early, Muamba has since gone into youth coaching.

2019 – McIlroy wins golf's biggest cash prize

This time last year, Rory McIlroy took home what was at the time the biggest purse in golfing history. At the 2019 Players Championship in Sawgrass, McIlroy carded rounds of 67, 65, 70 and 70 to finish 16 under and edge out Jim Furyk by a shot, clinching a pay cheque of $2.25m – the single biggest monetary prize handed out in golf at that point. However, the $3m Jon Rahm took home for winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai later that year set a new benchmark.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chairman Gareth Davies believes the right call was made after it was decided to postpone the Six Nations clash with Scotland.

With the British government opting not to ban large events, it seemed as though Wales' encounter with Scotland would go ahead as planned in Cardiff on Saturday.

However, the WRU confirmed on Friday, 24 hours prior to kick-off, that the match would not be played amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It has been a tough week," said Davies in quotes reported by BBC Sport. "But we believe it was the proper and responsible thing to do."

"I don't think we could've dealt with it any better. We made a decision last night that this match would go ahead. In a very quickly moving world things had changed by late morning today.

"We initially followed the advice of government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence and that was the case up until [Thursday] night.

"We had an emergency board meeting to consider everything and we still thought, bearing in mind the advice we had, that keeping the game on was the way to go.

"Last night the Premier League were carrying on but by this morning that had changed and the EFL went on a similar course, as did the Celtic v Rangers game, in all being called off and other major global events were also being pulled.

"We spoke to the government this morning, who understood our position."

"For us to be the only sporting event to be on, we were mindful of the seriousness of the situation. We took into account supporters, players and staff and asked whether it was essential to subject to that risk."

The Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland has been postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Until the decision, Saturday's contest in Cardiff was the only match in round five of the tournament still scheduled to take place this weekend.

The Italy v England and France v Ireland clashes had previously been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an announcement on Friday from the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed their game would also not go ahead as planned.

"The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue," read their statement, which was published 24 hours before kick-off.

"Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

"The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

"Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option."

The WRU had earlier said the game was still on, but the landscape changed when a host of other high-profile sporting fixtures for this weekend and beyond were cancelled or postponed amid the spread of coronavirus.

Football has been called off in England, France, Italy and Spain, along with next week's fixtures in the Champions League and Europa League.

The Test series between Sri Lanka and England has been cancelled, while in golf The Players Championship was halted after one round and next month's Masters has been postponed.

The Welsh Rugby Union still intends to stage Saturday's Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, despite coronavirus concerns.

The UK Government said on Thursday it was not yet necessary to postpone major sporting fixtures, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson declaring there was "no medical reason at the moment to ban such events".

Wales' home fixture at the Principality Stadium is the only remaining match on the weekend's Six Nations schedule, after COVID-19 issues led to the postponement of Italy versus England and France's clash with Ireland.

However, it appears there will be action in Cardiff, with supporters told there will be "enhanced facilities for hand washing and sanitisation" available.

"The Welsh Rugby Union [WRU] has confirmed tomorrow's Guinness Six Nations clash with Scotland at Principality Stadium will go ahead as planned," the WRU said on Friday.

"WRU representatives have been in dialogue with Welsh Assembly government minister for health and social services Vaughan Gething, who provided much needed clarity on the Cobra meeting held yesterday.

"Throughout the WRU board have followed the scientific advice of government, Public Health Wales and medical experts and determined that any game would be held or postponed based on that advice.

"Enhanced facilities for hand washing and sanitisation will be available at the stadium and there are measures in place to manage any issues with attendees on the day. In addition supporters are urged to follow the advice that is widely available on government websites in relation to the virus."

Wales and Scotland go head to head in the final round of the Six Nations on Saturday, and the Scots still have the slimmest chance of winning the title.

The tournament will not finish on schedule, with three matches yet to be rescheduled after being postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, so the wait goes on to learn who finishes as champions.

The Scots would be looking for whipping boys Italy to avoid defeat against both Ireland and England in two of those postponed matches, and for Ireland to do likewise against France, so their championship prospects appear merely mathematically possible.

Whether Scotland can beat Wales also remains to be seen, but Gregor Townsend's XV are the form side heading into the Principality Stadium clash, having won their last two matches while Wayne Pivac's side have lost three in a row.

With Opta data, we preview the weekend's lone Six Nations match:

Wales v Scotland

- Wales have won 14 of their last 16 Six Nations games against Scotland (L2), including their last eight in a row at the Principality Stadium, with Scotland’s only victory in Cardiff in the championship this century coming in 2002.

- Wales have lost their last three Six Nations games, their worst run in the championship since a five-game losing streak spanning the 2006 and 2007 editions.

- Scotland come into this match having won back-to-back games in the Six Nations, but they have not won three in a row in the Five Nations or Six Nations since 1996 when they beat Ireland, France and Wales in succession.

- Wales have scored four tries originating from inside their own half in this year’s Six Nations, the joint most of any side, with France having also scored four, while 50 per cent of Scotland’s tries (three of six) have come from that range, the highest ratio of any side.

- Scotland have won 7.8 turnovers per game on average in the tournament this year, more than any other side, while Wales have won the fewest (5.5). Scotland also boast the best tackle success rate this campaign (89 per cent) having missed a tournament-low 18 tackles per game.

- Wales have recorded the best goal-kicking success rate so far, with Leigh Halfpenny (100 per cent, 5/5) and Dan Biggar (94 per cent, 15/16) boasting the best individual rates of anyone to attempt more than one kick at goal.

- Stuart Hogg (Scotland) has gained the most metres of any player in the championship (305), averaging 76 metres per game. Another 76 metres in this match would see him become just the second player in Six Nations history to gain 3,000 metres, after Sergio Parisse (Parisse reached 3,088, Hogg is currently on 2,924).

- Hamish Watson (Scotland) has made 62 of 62 tackles in the championship, the second most of any player.

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