Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls lost two of three matches on Saturday to finish fifth of the six teams in the 2023 Fast5 World Series Netball that was won by Australia who defeated New Zealand win a second consecutive title.

Jamaica defeated the champions in their opening match before getting the better of Malawi in another thrilling encounter on Friday night. However, they lost their third match of the day going down to South Africa.

Needing to win their matches on Saturday, Jamaica lost to England 33-27 before being clobbered 50-16 by New Zealand. The Sunshine Girls rounded out their matches by defeating Malawi 36-31. Romelda Aiken-George was the Player of the Match.

Australia, meanwhile, defeated England 37-16 before going on to beat New Zealand 35-23 to take the title.

Saturday's results means Jamaica ended the competition with four points, the same as South Africa. However, the Jamaicans placed fifth because of their loss to the South Africans on Friday.

Malawi finished sixth with zero points.

England finished third with six points.

After a fairly decent showing on day one action, Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls will be hoping to return to winning ways on the second and decisive day of the Fast5 Netball World Series, as they push for a medal in Christchurch, New Zealand on Saturday.

The Jamaicans, who defeated Australia 38-36 and Malawi 41-37 courtesy of some classy long-range shooting from goal-attack Gezelle Allison, failed to go unbeaten on the day, after being hammered by South Africa in a 17-33 loss.

Still, they remain on course for a spot in the medal round with only New Zealand, Australia and England –all of whom also had two wins and a loss –ahead of them on goal difference.

With that in mind, Shawn Murdock, is cautiously optimistic that the Sunshine Girls will achieve the feat, though they are scheduled to face two tough opponents in New Zealand and England.

“As always when we face England and New Zealand it’s never an easy encounter.  The English showed some fight yesterday and they are perhaps our biggest rivals internationally over the years; New Zealand are playing at home and are still smarting from their World Cup performance.

“So I expect the home crowd and their hurt from their World Cup campaign to be major factors for them.  So we just have to control the controllable from our end and ensure we are scoring goals consistently and our defenders are winning balls to provide more opportunities for us,” Murdock told SportsMax.TV.

“As you know, five doesn’t go in three, so it’s game on for a place in the medal matches. Still a major mountain to climb as five of the six teams are all in a position to still make the gold medal match. Only two can make it though, and so I expect all the teams to come battling hard today,” he added.

Jamaica’s day one performance already represents a significant step up from last year’s outing when they failed to win a single game. For that, Murdock, who is co-coaching with Nicole Aikin-Pinnock, expressed pleasure with the team’s display on Friday’s opening day.

“We are pleased with the performance of the ladies. We are from a country that loves winning so we were disappointed we never got three victories yesterday because that would have placed us in prime position heading into the two other matches today. We, however, are proud of how the ladies have performed so far,” he said.

Much like she did against the Australian Diamonds, Allison again scored a last-ditched six-pointer, to lift the Jamaicans over Malawi, in a contest where their East African counterparts lead for most of the way.

Sloppy ball handling by the Jamaicans, who led the first quarter 12-6, allowed Malawi to assert their authority from the second stanza onward.

It wasn’t until the backend of the third quarter that they started a rally and with a mere two points separating the teams in the closing stages of the fourth, Allison came up trumps with another big six-pointer in the powerplay seconds to end with 24 goals.

Captain and veteran goal-shooter Romelda Aiken-George scored 13 goals from 12 attempts, while Amanda Pinkney and Rhea Dixon both scored two goals.

However, they failed to repeat the heroics of their two earlier wins, as their shooting returns ran cold against a plucky South African team that burst their bubble.

Despite that, Murdock and his Sunshine Girls know a win over England and, or New Zealand would all put them in the final two.

“The mood heading into day two action is very positive. Of course there was a level of sadness from the ladies not being able to secure all three wins last evening, but we’ve placed that loss and yesterday behind us. 

“It’s a new day, all teams start again, so we are focusing on trying to replicate or do better than how we performed in our first match yesterday. The game is about scoring goals, and so we’ve done what we can to ensure our shooters and the overall team got enough recovery to face the day ahead,” the coach shared.

Action is scheduled for 5:45pm Jamaica time.

Live coverage will be on SportsMax and SportsMax 2

Crystal Plummer had a stellar maiden Vitality Netball World Cup appearance earlier this year, as her performances in South Africa assisted Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls to end a 16-year medal drought when they claimed bronze.

Now back on the international assignment for a second Fast5 Netball World Series appearance, Plummer knows it is another opportunity for her to make a mark on the big stage with hopes that an efficient execution, both individually and collectively as a team, will propel them to another medal.

Plummer, 21, possesses incredible physical prowess and the intensity that she paraded at the World Cup is testament to the demands she puts on herself to always perform at her best.

It is that stubborn determination, coupled with an unwavering desire to succeed, that place her among a number of dangerous young prospects that will grace the court at the fast-paced, two-day tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand, and she is definitely out to prove that much.

“Honestly, I am excited and looking forward to the challenge. For me it is another opportunity to show what I can do because I am always looking to do better every chance I get. It’s about doing my best and having fun at the same time, but still focused on the goal head,” Plummer told SportsMax.TV. 

“Unlike last year when I struggled to get acclimatised, this year, I am both mentally and physically ready and I am very motivated and just looking forward to doing my utmost best to execute according to the team's game plans," she added.

Should the now Nicole Aiken-Pinnock and Shawn Murdock-coached Sunshine Girls achieve the medal feat, it would represent a significant improvement on last year’s display when they placed at the foot of the six-team ladder without a win. It would also be the country’s fourth Fast5 medal and first since 2018.

But that is easier said than done, as Australia, England, Malawi, South Africa and seven-time champions New Zealand, are all formidable opponents, who will take some amount of beating.

“It’s always challenging, but the entire team is up for the challenge and we will be leaving it all on court as we hope to come away with a medal. I have a saying ‘work hard and win easy’, so again, I am ready for the excitement of Fast5. My aim is to be one of the standout players for this year’s competition and to do that I will need to be consistent in how I play to get the job done,” Plummer declared.

The wing defence, who has been a staple in the Sunshine Girls team since making her debut at the Americas qualifiers on home soil last year, was also a part of the historic Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games winning team.

Having grasped significant lessons from those, and in particular, the World Cup outing, Plummer said she has benefitted from self-preparation, as she is well aware that there is always room for improvements.

“Preparation will never be easy, but I am committed to doing what I have to, to achieve my goals and that included working on my confidence and my passes. So, as it is now, I am refuelled for this mission because each time I get to showcase my skill against world class players, it is basically one of my goals crossed off the list,” the cheerful player ended.

Live coverage is on SportsMax and SportsMax 2, starting this evening at 6:00pm Jamaica time, while coverage on Saturday’s second day is slated for 5:45pm Jamaica time.

Jamaica squad: Romelda Aiken-George (captain), Adean Thomas (vice-captain), Gezelle Allison, Theresa Beckford, Rhea Dixon, Abbeygail Linton, Amanda Pinkney, Crystal Plummer, Kimone Shaw, and Abigale Sutherland.

With the high of last year’s Fast5 Netball Series debut still fresh in her mind, Amanda Pinkney is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of not only improving her performances, but also the possibility of Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls challenging for a medal on this occasion.

Though the Sunshine Girls lost all five games played and ended at the foot of the six-team ladder without a point last year, Pinkney celebrated the minor victory of being named Player of the Game in the Jamaicans narrow 27-28 loss to South Africa.

Pinkney, who play both goal-shoot and goal-attack positions, also had the distinction of ending that tournament as the player to score the most three-point goals, a feat which she knows she is very much capable of repeating.

“Last year was really good year for me, it was my first time participating in the Fast5 competition and it was a really good eye-opening experience in terms of the level of competition and the pace of the tournament. Some high for me was the connection that the players had and also when I received the Player of the Game award, that really showed me that I am very much capable of doing great things if I remain focused,” Pinkney told SportsMax.TV from the team’s base in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“At that same tournament, there were some concerns about the team’s readiness, but we weathered the storm and gradually improved each game, and we gave it our best. So, it is just about focusing on our responsibilities, both individually and collectively as a team and once we do that, I know we will be much more competitive this year,” she added.

The Sunshine Girls will indeed require some degree of consistency to complement their speed and agility, as they are expected to again face some stern tests against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malawi and England in the fast-paced six-team tournament scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

With Jhaniele Fowler being absent, New South Wales Swifts star Romelda Aiken-George will lead from the front, with Gezelle Allison, Pinkney, and former England Under-21 Rhea Dixon, who recently became eligible to represent Jamaica, expected to complement her shooting prowess.

Adean Thomas, Theresa Beckford, Kimone Shaw, Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland and Abbeygail Linton, complete the team coached by former captain Nicole Aiken-Pinnock and Shawn Murdock.

For Pinkney, 24, copping an historic gold at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in El Salvador earlier this year, provided the necessary impetus to fuel her ambitions for this tournament and beyond.

Simply put, Pinkney has a desire to become a staple in the Sunshine Girls team going forward and to do so, she is well aware that she will have to work diligently to improve her craft.

“My goal is to perform better than I did both at last year’s Fast5 and also at the CAC Games. I want to showcase strong teamwork, to improve my individual skills. So even after this tournament, I intend to take the lessons and experiences back to Jamaica and continue putting in the work because I am hoping that I can get a contract in one of the international netball leagues,” she shared.

But, for now, the immediate focus of the soft-spoken player is to exude the necessary confidence and willpower to assist the Sunshine Girls medal ambitions in Christchurch, as she knows that maintaining the enthusiasm is essential to trigger further development to bring about the much-needed excitement and fulfillment she desires.

“Things are going good so far, I honestly can’t complain, I think I’m more ready for Fast5 this season than before because I have so much confidence in myself and my teammates and I know that we will do much better than the last season,” Pinkney declared.

“I know the teams won’t come easy, but we definitely won’t back down. Like I said, I think this year I got more practice for the competition and not only that, but the combination that we practiced I think that will make the difference from last season. So, it might seem far-fetched but I’m also hopefully that we will win the tournament,” she ended.

 

 

 

Glenn Maxwell rewrote the World Cup record books as he single-handedly batted Australia to a remarkable win over Afghanistan.

Maxwell defied “horrific” back spasms to hit an unbeaten 201 and power his side from 91 for seven to 293 and a three-wicket win.

It was Australia’s first one-day international double century and here the PA news agency looks at the records set by Maxwell and his eighth-wicket partner Pat Cummins.

Double delight

The highest ODI score by an Australia batter stood at 185 not out, by Shane Watson against Bangladesh in 2011, until Maxwell’s astonishing effort in Mumbai.

It is only the third double century at a World Cup, with West Indies star Chris Gayle setting a record of 215 against Zimbabwe in 2015 but then watching New Zealand’s Martin Guptill top it with 237 not out against his side later in the same tournament.

He is only the ninth man to make an ODI double hundred, with 11 such scores in total, including three for India’s Rohit Sharma. Maxwell made Australia only the fifth nation represented on that list – India with seven from Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill, while Fakhar Zaman hit 210 not out for Pakistan against Zimbabwe in 2018.

In 128 balls, Maxwell’s is also the fastest World Cup double – Gayle took 138 balls to reach the landmark and Guptill 152. Kishan narrowly held on to the fastest ODI double, in 126 balls against Bangladesh last year.

The inning was completed fittingly with the winning six, Maxwell’s 10th to go with 21 fours – only Guptill, with 24 fours and 11 sixes in his 237, has scored more runs in boundaries in a World Cup innings.

Perfect partner

“Just ridiculous!” Cummins told Sky Sports with a smile, adding: “It’s got to be the greatest ODI innings that’s ever happened, it’s one of those days where you just go, ‘When that happened, I was here in the stadium’.”

The Australia captain was far more than a mere spectator, though, defying Afghanistan for 68 balls in a two-hour stay at the crease.

He contributed 12 runs to a lop-sided partnership of 202, which destroyed the ODI record for the eighth wicket – an unbroken 138 between South Africa’s Justin Kemp and Andrew Hall against India in 2006 – and the Australian best of 119 between Paul Reiffel and Shane Warne against the Proteas in 1994.

It was also the first 200 stand for any wicket from the seventh downwards – the previous record being Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid’s 177 for England’s seventh wicket against New Zealand in 2015.

Mitchell Marsh’s 24 was the second-highest score as Maxwell racked up 68.6 per cent of Australia’s runs in the innings – only West Indies great Sir Viv Richards has ever scored a greater share of his team’s runs in a completed ODI innings, 189no in a total of 272 for nine against England in 1984 (69.5 per cent).

Afghanistan contributed valiantly to a thrilling match and, while it will be relegated to a footnote after Maxwell’s heroics, opener Ibrahim Zadran carried his bat for 129no to record their first World Cup century.

Glenn Maxwell hit a record-breaking double-century as Australia fought back to beat Afghanistan by three wickets in a remarkable contest in Mumbai and seal a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

The three-time champions, targeting 292 for victory, slumped to 91 for seven before turning things around thanks to Maxwell’s breathtaking unbeaten 201, which came off 128 balls and included 21 fours and 10 sixes.

It was with the last of those sixes that the 35-year-old all-rounder – who battled on despite appearing in some pain – wrapped up the win with 19 deliveries to go.

It was the highest-ever score by an Australian in a one-day international, as the team achieved the highest successful ODI run chase there had ever been at the Wankhede Stadium.

The ground had seen history made earlier with Afghanistan recording their maiden World Cup century, Ibrahim Zadran posting an unbeaten 12.

Their total of 291 for five also featured contributions of 35 not out from Rashid Khan and 30 from Rahmat Shah as Afghanistan sought to beat Australia for the first time at the fourth attempt in this format.

Australia’s reply started badly with Travis Head being dismissed for a duck by Naveen-ul-Haq with only four runs on the board.

And the wickets continued to go as Pat Cummins’ men stumbled to 49 for four after Azmatullah Omarzai took the scalps of David Warner and Josh Inglis in consecutive balls.

When Mitchell Starc was ousted – despite questions over whether the ball had hit his bat – via a superb catch from wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil to leave Australia at 91 for seven in the 19th over, Afghanistan looked to be closing in on a famous victory.

But Maxwell then took centre stage with a stunning display to push Australia to victory.

Having been dropped and survived an lbw appeal on review, he went on to register boundary after boundary, even though at times he looked to be in considerable discomfort and struggling to run.

Able to continue after receiving treatment on the field, he subsequently completed his double-century – and Australia’s win – in fitting fashion by crashing yet another maximum that took his partnership with Cummins (12) to 202.

Third-placed Australia advance into the last four, joining India and South Africa, ahead of finishing their group matches by playing Bangladesh in Pune on Saturday.

Afghanistan remain sixth, with one of them, New Zealand and Pakistan set to make the semi-finals – they face South Africa in Ahmedabad on Friday.

England were chasing 287 against Ashes rivals Australia in Ahmedabad as they attempted to salvage some pride to their listless World Cup campaign.

Chris Woakes, player of the series after a starring role in this summer’s Test series between the sides, turned in another impressive showing as Australia were bowled out for 286 in the final over.

Woakes topped and tailed the innings, dismissing the dangerous opening pair of Travis Head and David Warner with the new ball and returning to take the last two wickets at the death.

He finished with four for 54, while Adil Rashid’s leg-spin locked down the middle overs in clinical style as he picked up two for 38 from his 10.

But an England side who started the day bottom of the table after five losses from six will be painfully aware that nothing can be taken for granted, having been rolled over for 215 or less by Afghanistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India in the last three weeks.

Having gone in unchanged for the third game in a row, keeping Harry Brook benched despite the repeated struggles of the top six, they will need a sharp upturn in productivity from their batters.

Australia were lacking the fire-power of Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell, the former having flown home for personal reasons and the latter concussed after falling from a golf cart, and although their power-hitting was conspicuously absent they did not fold.

Steve Smith (44) and Marnus Labuschagne (71) channelled their less explosive methods to rebuild after Woakes’ early inroads and Cameron Green chipped in a handy 47 on his return to the XI.

Australia kept wickets in hand for long periods but never quite used their foundation, losing five for 66 in the final 10 overs.

England were back at the site of their first match in a dreadful campaign which was branded “crap” in a blunt assessment by Ben Stokes on the eve of this match.

They made 282 for nine and after batting first against New Zealand in the curtain-raiser at the Narendra Modi Stadium only to watch the Black Caps knock off a nine-wicket win with minimal fuss.

They will now be hoping to produce a successful pursuit of their own.

Australia captain Pat Cummins has encouraged his side to get “fired up” for the chance to knock Ashes rivals England out of the World Cup.

Three months have passed since the tightly-fought Test series between the sides ended 2-2 at the Kia Oval, with tensions running high over the course of the summer.

A handful of Australian players have since made fun of claims that England won a ‘moral victory’ after being denied a decisive win by the Old Trafford weather. Cummins, meanwhile, could barely suppress laughter when asked to comment on England’s struggles at this tournament.

He adopted a better poker face on the eve of their reunion in Ahmedabad but, with his side marching towards the semi-finals and England one more defeat away from officially crashing out, Cummins is happy to see his players embrace their emotions.

“(The Ashes) was a couple of months ago. It’s done. It’s a new game, new tournament, but I always think a healthy amount of rivalry is good,” he said.

“Especially so for our playing group. We’re quite a chilled, calm group, so sometimes when we get a little bit more fired up, I actually don’t think it’s too bad a thing.

“I mean it’s an old rivalry so yeah, you’re not going to lie, if they beat us I know it’s probably just that little bit sweeter than beating other teams. And the same for us, with their history and how well they’ve done in white-ball cricket. It would be a great win.”

That was as far as Cummins was willing to go in terms of needling the opposition, refusing to be revved up by Joe Root’s suggestion that England boast a better XI despite the teams’ vastly differing fortunes in India.

“I mean yeah, of course he’d say that. We would say the same about our team, so I wouldn’t read too much into it,” he said.

“I’ve played in many other games against England over the years. Even growing up, you watch it and you hear about it. There’s always banter before any game. So, I think you’re immune to it. You know that cricket speaks for itself.

“Everything else is just preamble and noise to a game that everyone’s really excited about.”

Australia have been damaged by the loss of two key all-rounders ahead of the match, Glenn Maxwell recovering from concussion after falling off a golf buggy and Mitch Marsh returning home for personal reasons.

Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green are on hand to fill the gaps, with Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne set to climb up one place in the batting order.

Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has been ruled out of his side’s World Cup match against England after falling off a golf cart and sustaining a concussion.

Maxwell, who hit a tournament record 40-ball century against the Netherlands last week and also offers a handy second spin option, will miss Saturday’s clash in Ahmedabad after a bizarre sequence of events.

Maxwell had finished a round at Gujarat’s Kalhaar Blues and Greens club on Monday evening and was riding on the back of a cart with team-mates when he lost his grip, fell and hit his head.

Head coach Andrew McDonald told cricket.com.au: “In transporting him back from the clubhouse to the team bus, Glenn Maxwell came off the back of a car and has suffered a small concussion.

“He’ll go into six to eight days concussion protocol, so they said that takes into account the England game. It was just a clearcut accident. He’s an important player for us, hopefully it’s just the one game he misses.

“The guys were ferried off on carts. Glenn and a few other players jumped on the back of carts and unfortunately he lost his grip on the way back to the team bus and sustained that injury. Over the last couple of days he’s been assessed. We feel as though it’ll be a relatively straightforward return to play protocol with where he’s at at the moment.”

England’s Jonny Bairstow missed 10 months of cricket after badly breaking his leg playing golf near Harrogate in August 2022, while Maxwell also suffered an unlikely injury last November when breaking his leg at a birthday party in Melbourne.

Australia have two all-round options available to step in for Maxwell, with Cameron Green and Marcus Stoinis vying for a spot.

Saudi Arabia is set to stage the World Cup in 2034 after being confirmed as the sole bidder.

Australia was the only potential challenger but Football Australia announced hours before FIFA’s deadline on Tuesday that it would not be submitting a bid.

FIFA had already said the tournament would be held in Asia or Oceania, while Saudi Arabia had garnered immediate support from the Asian Football Confederation.

A Saudi World Cup, which may not be confirmed until a FIFA Congress late next year, is likely to be highly controversial given concerns over the country’s human rights record.

It would almost certainly mean another winter edition, as with last year’s tournament in Qatar, due to the extreme heat during the region’s summer.

A FIFA statement said: “The FIFA administration will conduct a targeted dialogue with bidders to ensure complete, comprehensive bids are received and evaluated against the minimum hosting requirements as also previously approved by the FIFA Council.

“This dialogue will focus on the defined priority areas of the event vision and key metrics, infrastructure, services, commercial, and sustainability and human rights.”

A statement from Football Australia said it had “explored the opportunity” of a bid but had decided against it.

“Having taken all factors into consideration, we have reached the conclusion not to do so for the 2034 competition,” the statement said.

“Football Australia is ambitious to bring more major tournaments to our shores. We believe we are in a strong position to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026 and then welcome the greatest teams in world football for the 2029 FIFA Club World Cup.”

It said hosting those events, in between the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, would complete a “truly golden decade for Australian football”.

CEO James Johnson added: “The reality is I don’t like to throw darts at a dartboard. When we weigh up these decisions, I like to bet on sure things. I realised we could have a shot but I think at the end the outcome was not going to be favourable to Australia.

“Saudi is a strong bid. They’ve got a lot of resources. They’re disrupting European club football at the moment. Their government are prioritising investment in football and I think that’s difficult to compete with.”

Saudi Arabia announced its declaration of interest within hours of FIFA outlining the process for hosting the 2034 tournament earlier this month.

With the 2026 finals heading to the United States, Canada and Mexico and the 2030 finals to Spain, Portugal and Morocco, including some matches in South America – subject to approval by FIFA’s congress – only bids from the Asian Football Confederation and the Oceania Football Confederation were being considered.

Saudi Arabia confirmed on October 4 that it would bid for the showpiece tournament in 2034.

Saudi minister of sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said in a statement via the Saudi Press Agency: “Hosting a FIFA World Cup in 2034 would help us achieve our dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation.

“As an emerging and welcoming home for all sports, we believe that hosting a FIFA World Cup is a natural next step in our football journey.”

Last week Human Rights Watch complained that FIFA was failing to apply its own rules in regards to Saudi Arabia’s bid, specifically article seven of its human rights policy.

The article states: “FIFA will constructively engage with relevant authorities and other stakeholders and make every effort to uphold its international human rights responsibilities.”

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, said: “The possibility that FIFA could award Saudi Arabia the 2034 World Cup despite its appalling human rights record and closed door to any monitoring exposes FIFA’s commitments to human rights as a sham.”

On Tuesday, Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, urged FIFA not to rush into a decision, saying: “With only a single bid for each tournament on the table, FIFA may have scored an own goal.

“FIFA must now make clear how it expects hosts to comply with its human rights policies. It must also be prepared to halt the bidding process if serious human rights risks are not credibly addressed.

“The best chance for FIFA to obtain binding guarantees to protect workers’ rights, ensure freedom of expression and prevent discrimination linked to the World Cup is during the host selection process – not after the hosts have been confirmed and tournament preparation has begun.”

Confronting accusations of “sportswashing” in an interview with Fox News last month, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “If sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by way of one per cent, then I will continue doing sportwashing.

“I don’t care. One per cent growth of GDP from sport and I’m aiming for another one-and-a-half per cent. Call it whatever you want, we’re going to get that one-and-a-half per cent.”

Eddie Howe, manager of Saudi-backed Newcastle, was asked about the prospect of a Saudi Arabian World Cup at a press conference on Tuesday.

“Our trips out there to Riyadh and Jeddah were two different experiences,” Howe said. “Wherever we went was really well organised and we were well looked after. If that’s a sign of what a World Cup there might look like then you can rest assured that everything will be structurally really good.”

Warren Gatland has backed Andy Farrell to be the next British and Irish Lions head coach after ruling himself out of the running for the 2025 tour of Australia.

New Zealander Gatland, who late last year returned for a second spell as Wales boss, has overseen the last three Lions tours.

Farrell was on Sunday named World Rugby coach of the year after leading Ireland to a Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam amid a 17-match winning run.

“A few weeks ago, I was asked by Nigel Walker, Wales’ director of rugby, if I was interested in putting my name forward to be head coach for the next tour in Australia in 2025,” Gatland wrote in his column for the Telegraph.

“It did not take long to get back to him.

“I told him I was not going to put my name forward. I told Nigel that I would have no problem if any of my support staff were to be asked to be involved as I would see it as a great experience for them.

“But I think it is the opportunity now for someone else to be head coach and Andy Farrell would have my backing for the job.

“You cannot deny what Ireland have achieved as a nation over the last few years. There is no doubt that Andy has done a fantastic job.”

Gatland led the Lions to a 2-1 win in Australia in 2013, a drawn series in New Zealand in 2017 and a 2-1 defeat in South Africa in 2021.

Farrell was part of the 60-year-old’s coaching staff for the first two of those three tours.

The 48-year-old Englishman’s stock has risen significantly over the past couple of years, albeit Ireland suffered a quarter-final exit at the Rugby World Cup in France following a 28-24 defeat to runners-up New Zealand.

Gatland, who also assisted Sir Ian McGeechan on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa, offered to support his successor in an advisory capacity.

“If the next head coach wants to tap into my experiences from the last four tours, then I would still love to be involved in some way by passing on the knowledge and experience I have gained in trying to create harmony within a group of players from different backgrounds,” he continued.

“For the Lions, it is the least I can do.”

Australia has opted against a bid to host the 2034 World Cup with Saudi Arabia on course to stage the tournament.

With FIFA’s deadline for declarations of interest on Tuesday, Football Australia issued a statement saying it had “explored the opportunity” of a bid but had decided against it.

“Having taken all factors into consideration, we have reached the conclusion not to do so for the 2034 competition,” the statement said.

“Football Australia is ambitious to bring more major tournaments to our shores. We believe we are in a strong position to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026 and then welcome the greatest teams in world football for the 2029 FIFA Club World Cup.”

It said hosting those events, in between the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, would complete a “truly golden decade for Australian football”.

Saudia Arabia announced its declaration of interest within hours of FIFA outlining the process for hosting the 2034 tournament.

The awarding of the 2026 finals to the United States, Canada and Mexico followed by Spain, Portugal and Morocco being set to host the 2030 finals – subject to formal approval by FIFA’s congress – means that only bids from the Asian Football Confederation and the Oceania Football Confederation will be considered for the 2034 finals.

Saudi Arabia confirmed on October 4 that it would bid for the showpiece tournament in 2034 when Saudi Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said in a statement via the Saudi Press Agency: “Hosting a FIFA World Cup in 2034 would help us achieve our dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation.

“As an emerging and welcoming home for all sports, we believe that hosting a FIFA World Cup is a natural next step in our football journey.”

Eddie Jones said he wanted to continue as head coach of Australia and has not had a job offer from Japan after his resignation was confirmed.

Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh said they had reached a “sensible” agreement with the former England coach as his nine months in the job came to an end.

Speaking to Channel 9 in Australia, Jones said he “never” had a job offer from Japan and criticised media reports of an interview ahead of a World Cup campaign which saw Australia crash out in the group stages.

“I’ve got no job to go to, no job offer,” he said. “My commitment to Australian rugby has been 100%. I did want to go on. Coaching a team is a bit like being in a marriage, you need commitment from both sides.

“I was committed to change the team. Rugby Australia at the moment cannot activate the changes, financial and political, to make real change in Australian rugby.”

He continued: “I don’t like to be in projects where I don’t think they can really get to where they need to get to and I’ve made that decision.

“Rugby Australia probably doesn’t think that and that’s where the unity of our project is not in the place it needs to be.

“Sometimes you go in the bank and blow it up but you don’t come out with the money.”

Former Wallabies flanker Waugh said he “took Eddie on his word” when he denied reports linking him with Japan.

Talking to a press conference in Sydney, Waugh said: “Our focus will be reconnecting with the Australian public rather than where Eddie’s going to be.

“We’ve come to a sensible conclusion, both for Eddie and for Rugby Australia.

“I don’t think it changes the position we’re at now, whether Eddie was to stay or go.

“This is hopefully a low point and a chance to reset. The most important thing is to unite.”

Jones will officially leave his role on November 25 and Waugh said Rugby Australia would take “however long it takes” to ensure they got the “best possible coach”.

He refused to be drawn on the position of chairman Hamish McLennan, who has faced criticism for replacing Dave Rennie with Jones on a five-year deal in January – weeks after he had been dismissed by England.

“Ultimately the board is responsible for this decision,” he said. “It’s speculation where we would have been if we had not made that call and Dave had stayed on.

“The results were not up to expectation. The board has made some bold calls. Hindsight is a wonderful thing… where we ended up was not good enough.”

Rugby Australia earlier confirmed Jones’ resignation as head coach following the Wallabies’ failure to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time.

“Rugby Australia can confirm that it has accepted the resignation of Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones, and he will depart the position on 25 November 2023,” a statement from the governing body read.

“Rugby Australia thanks Eddie for his commitment to the Wallabies in 2023, and wishes him the best in his future endeavours.

“Announcements regarding the future of the Wallabies coaching staff will be made in due course.”

McLennan had already vowed to continue in his role, telling the Sydney Morning Herald in a statement: “I came to rugby to find a way to fix it when it all fell over and despite the sad Eddie situation, this is another hurdle we’ll overcome.

“I want to stay to deliver the 2027 World Cup in Australia. That has always been the big prize for Australian rugby.

“More destabilisation will just make matters worse, just when we’re about to break through. Life is not a continuous line of perfect calls and success.”

Jones won just two of nine Tests in charge against Georgia and Portugal in the World Cup where they suffered losses to Fiji and Wales.

Eddie Jones has resigned as Australia head coach, according to reports in the country.

The 63-year-old former England boss was in charge of a disastrous World Cup campaign, which saw Australia fail to reach the knockout stages for the first time in their history.

During the tournament in France it was reported that Jones had held talks to take over Japan for a second time, despite being less than than one year into a five-year contract which was set to expire after the 2027 World Cup.

Following the reports, Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday: “(I) gave it a run. Hopefully be the catalyst for change.

“Sometimes you have to eat s**t for others to eat caviar further down the track.”

There was no confirmation from Rugby Australia on Sunday morning.

Jos Buttler accepted his future as England captain was out of his hands after another painful defeat sent his side tumbling towards the World Cup exit door.

England knew nothing less than victory over Sri Lanka would be enough to keep alive their fading hopes of reaching the semi-finals and they responded with arguably their worst performance yet in a campaign littered with low points.

After choosing to bat first, they were skittled for a meagre 156 in 33.2 overs, then watched as their opponents cantered home by eight wickets in Bangalore with almost half of the innings unused.

The thrashing, which followed heavy losses to New Zealand, Afghanistan and South Africa, left the reigning champions ninth in the standings with an eye-watering net run-rate.

With four games to go – including table-topping India and bitter rivals Australia – they are being kept off bottom spot by the only associate nation at the competition, the Netherlands.

Remarkably, England are not yet mathematically out with four games to play, but the route is fanciful in the extreme and Buttler acknowledged the game was up.

“It certainly looks that way and that’s incredibly disappointing. It would need a few miracles,” he said, glassy-eyed after another draining day.

“You get on the plane with high hopes and a lot of confidence and belief that we can challenge for the title, so to be sat here now with the three weeks we’ve had is a shock. It’s a shock to everyone.

“I’ll walk back in the dressing room after this, look at the players sat there and think ‘how have we found ourselves in this position with the talent and the skill that’s in the room’?

“But it is the position we’re in, it’s the reality of what’s happened over the last three weeks and that’s a huge low point.”

Pressed on his own status in charge of the side Buttler indicated a desire to continue but a realisation that the verdict may not be his to make.

In reality, England do not have an obvious successor lined up and Buttler is relatively new in the role, having inherited the mantle following Eoin Morgan’s retirement last summer.

He also has a T20 World Cup win in the bank and there has been no indication that managing director of the men’s cricket, Rob Key, has an itchy trigger finger.

“I think you’re always questioning as captain how you can get the best out of players, how you can get the team moving in the right direction,” Buttler admitted.

“I certainly have a lot of confidence and belief in myself as a leader and captain and first and foremost as a player, but if you’re asking if I should still be captaining the team, that’s a question for the guys above me.

“The tournament’s gone nowhere near the way we wanted it to…that much is obvious. As a leader, you want to lead through your own performance and I’ve not been able to do that.”

Head coach Matthew Mott joined Buttler in writing off the chances of sneaking through to the last four, telling BBC Sport: “Yeah, it’s over now, I think.

“I’m not a mathematician, but with our net run-rate and too many teams who are going to take games off each other, we have to come to terms with that. From now we’re playing for a lot of pride.

“We feel like we’ve let our fans down, our families and supporters and everyone in that dressing room, we haven’t put our best foot forward and in professional sport, that’s what you’re judged on.”

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