Australian rugby league slams door on divisive Folau

first_imgThe deeply religious 30-year-old was informed Thursday by rugby union bosses that they intend to sack him, barring any “compelling mitigating factors”, following his comment on Instagram that said “hell awaits” homosexuals.It followed a reprimand last year for similar homophobic sentiments posted by Folau on social media.Folau, who has yet to respond, is a dual international who began his career in rugby league and there was speculation it could offer him a lifeline.But Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie said Folau had failed the sport’s character test and would not get a contract.“Israel Folau fails the NRL’s inclusiveness culture, which is a policy strongly supported by the ARLC,” Beattie told reporters.“The ARLC therefore would not support his registration to play National Rugby League.”Beattie acted swiftly as rugby league works to rebuild its own reputation with sponsors and supporters after the new season was overshadowed by a string of sex and alcohol scandals.Folau, who has played 73 Tests and was seen as crucial for the Wallabies at this year’s World Cup in Japan, posted on Wednesday that “Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators — Hell awaits you.”He suggested they should “repent” as “only Jesus saves”.It remained online Friday and had attracted more than 25,000 likes.– ‘Way of the heathen’ –But it also sparked a searing backlash, including from key Wallabies sponsor Qantas, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and gay former Welsh star Gareth Thomas.All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder added to the condemnation, saying Folau, who is of Tongan heritage, was a role model and should not be spreading “hate, rejection, a message of intolerance and difference”.“We should be able to come together and love one another and respect each other. Don’t let his words influence you,” he said.Folau has previously refused to back down from his extreme religious views, and footage of him preaching to fellow churchgoers last month, obtained by the Sydney Daily Telegraph, showed how deep his opinions run.He attacked Christmas and Easter as “man-made” traditions followed by “heathens”.“That’s another tradition that is man-made and we always have to go back to what the Bible says about what He (God) says,” Folau said in his address.“God is clearly saying, ‘Do not follow the way of the heathen’, which is what he’s speaking of these people here, the custom. These people do it in vain. There’s no point to doing it.”last_img read more

I’m a finisher not a mathematician, says Dyantyi

first_imgHe’s not a mathematician holding a calculator to work out the permutations for this weekend’s decisive Loftus Super Rugby derby against the Bulls, Aphiwe Dyantyi proclaims with a chuckle.The Lions and the Bulls be embroiled in a dogfight to secure a playoff spot, but the ace Springbok winger hasn’t even started to think whether the men from Ellis Park will travel to Canberra, Buenos Aires, Christchurch or Wellington for a possible quarterfinal.ALSO READ: Bulls set for Lood boost against Lions?“Do I have a preference? If we as humans had our way the world would be destroyed, so you don’t always get things the way you want them,” said Dyantyi at the Ellis Park rugby museum.“We have to use the cards we are dealt and we just have to roll with the punches.”Dyantyi believes the logjam in the South African conference is because “everyone kind of stepped up” in a World Cup year.“I think it’s going to be that way right through to the final. I leave the permutations to the coaches, my job is to play rugby and enjoy myself. That’s what I can control,” he said.Following his eye-catching exploits in 2018 – he was named World Rugby’s newcomer for the year – Dyantyi admitted there were probably a lot of expectations from people on him, and it hasn’t been easy to deal with.“I struggled with a lot of niggles at the start of the season, so credit must go to coach Swys (de Bruin) and the medical team. At one point, they gave me some time off.“If we want to talk about form, we can talk the whole day but personally I don’t feel I’m at the level where I want to be. I’m happy currently and steadily building on that,” he said.Dyantyi also believes he’s not guaranteed a Bok spot currently and would need to step up.Even then the rewards might not be bountiful.“Not even in the starting team but just to be part of the squad.”For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

The Springboks shouldn’t lose to Japan? What bollocks!

first_imgA headline from an online sports column caught my eye this week. “The Springboks WILL beat Japan,” it read. Hell, that is confident, but rather arrogant. And that arrogance includes a bit of memory loss. Of course I grabbed the clickbait. The argument was that the Boks had the Brave Blossoms for breakfast in a warm-up Test a week before the World Cup started and that the Boks outscored them by four tries to three in that famous defeat four years ago. First of all, let’s put the 2015 argument to bed. Even if the Boks scored seven tries to…last_img

Solskjaer defends ‘mentally strong’ De Gea after errors

first_imgThe 29-year-old Spaniard’s place as United’s number one is under severe pressure after he was at fault for two goals in United’s 3-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea on Sunday.It came after other glaring errors over the past 18 months from De Gea, previously considered among the best goalkeepers in the world.Solskjaer, speaking at his pre-match press conference, was determined to keep the focus on Wednesday’s game against West Ham rather than the struggles of his goalkeeper.“This is not going to become a David de Gea press conference,” he said. “We’re just going to stick together. We’ve got two games, so we’re just going to focus on that one.“David’s mentally strong enough to know that his job is to perform in training the next day and then be ready for the games.”Dean Henderson is snapping at De Gea’s heels after impressing on loan at Sheffield United while Sergio Romero, the back-up goalkeeper surprisingly omitted from the FA Cup semi-final starting line-up, is waiting in the wings.Solskjaer has a significant decision to make about the position for their penultimate Premier League match of the season, given victory would give his fifth-placed side a huge boost in the Champions League race.Leicester’s 3-0 loss at Tottenham on Sunday means United are not only level with the fourth-placed Foxes on 62 points but on goal difference as well, with the clubs going toe-to-toe at the King Power Stadium in fascinating season finale on Sunday.Solskjaer was under intense pressure himself earlier in the season but a long unbeaten run either side of the coronavirus shutdown has turned their campaign around.The Norwegian said it was clear that United were on the right track.“It is in our own hands,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about how much it (Champions League) will mean financially or to attract people. We just have to focus on the next two games and make sure we are there.”Eric Bailly was taken to hospital after a nasty clash of heads with fellow United defender Harry Maguire on Sunday and Solskjaer said he was unlikely to feature against West Ham.“Eric stayed down in London after for all the checks,” he said.“I didn’t see him yesterday. He’s following the protocols that’s needed so, for me, I don’t think that he’ll be ready for this game.”last_img read more

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby dekes, scores highlight-reel backhand goal

first_imgCrosby then toe-dragged and swept the puck around a lunging Samuel Girard — and managed to wait out goalie Philipp Grubauer so he could slide the puck into the net on a backhand shovel.The goal marks Crosby’s fourth of the season — and a reminder that the 32-year-old veteran is still among the best in the business at creating something out of nothing.Crosby now has 11 points in 2019-20. Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby put up an early bid for goal of the year during Wednesday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.In the first period, No. 87 entered the attacking zone and grabbed a bouncing puck out of the air. He dropped it at his skates and sped past Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson.last_img

Weir will try to end slump at British Open this week

first_imgIt’s not the greatest time to try to break out of a slump, but Utah resident Mike Weir will be trying to at least improve on his play of late when he tees it up at the British Open this morning.Weir tees off at 6:31 a.m. MST, which is 1:31 p.m. in Scotland, with former champion David Duval and Alexander Cejka.The former BYU golfer is going through one of the worst stretches in his seven-year career on the PGA. He has missed the cut in five of his last six tournaments, since finishing fifth at the Masters. The only cut he made was at the U.S. Open, where he finished in a tie for 42nd.Weir played a practice round Tuesday with Jack Nicklaus, who is playing his final tournament this week. He hopes some of the Golden Bear’s magic will rub off.”I played with Jack Tuesday along with Tom Watson and Kenny Perry,” Weir said on his Web site. “I was thinking about all the shots he’d pulled off there, the great guy he’s been there and the great guy he’s been to me. I watched every shot he hit closely, taking in as much as I could. It doesn’t get any better than playing with Jack Nicklaus in what will be Jack’s last Open.”Last year, Weir finished in a tie for ninth place at the British Open played at Troon. That was his best-ever finish in a British Open. Golfers, beware of traps Relatedlast_img read more

Utes from Vegas heading home

first_imgE-mail: Two young Utah football players who have shown a lot of promise in the young season are Stevenson Sylvester and Eddie Wide.Both are seeing more reps each game, and this week’s game against UNLV will be extra special for them.Sylvester and Wide are both from Las Vegas and looking forward to playing in their hometown. Sylvester was an all-state linebacker for Valley High School, while Wide was an all-state running back for Cimarron High School.”It’ll be great to be back in my hometown and see all my family at the hotel,” said Sylvester, who estimates 30 to 40 close friends and family members will come out to watch him. “It will be exciting for me.””It’s a big deal to go and play in front of family and friends,” said Wide. “Guys I played with on the football team will be there and students from the school.”Sylvester came to Utah a year ago after choosing Utah over UNLV and Utah State and immediately made an impact, returning an interception 45 yards for touchdown against Utah State in the third game of the season. He started three games but didn’t play as much in the second half of the season due to a knee injury. Wide decided on Utah over Washington and is one of several true freshmen who has seen action this year. In three games he’s gained 16 yards on nine carries and has emerged as the backup to Darrell Mack. last_img read more

Jazz sign D-Leaguers Cooley and Cotton to 10-day contracts, send Clark to Boise

first_img Related SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz have added two more players to the roster and sent another to the D-League in separate moves announced Tuesday.As reported a day earlier, the Jazz added forward Jack Cooley and guard Bryce Cotton to the roster by signing the pair to 10-day contracts. In somewhat of a surprise move, Ian Clark was assigned to the Jazz’s D-League affiliate Idaho Stampede.The 6-foot-10 Cooley played four years at Notre Dame and participated in Jazz preseason camp before getting cut on Oct. 22. He has played for the Stampede in Boise, but has been injured much of the season. He has played in 16 games and averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds and has come on strong lately, including a 25-point, 20-rebound game last week against Austin.Cotton is a 6-1 point guard who played four years for Providence and spent training camp with the San Antonio Spurs. He has started 34 games for the Austin Spurs this year, averaging 22.4 points (third in the D-League), 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.Clark was signed to the Jazz before the 2013-14 season and played in 23 games, averaging 3.0 points in 7.5 minutes per game. The 23-year-old who played collegiately at Belmont also played in eight games for the Bakersfield Jam last year while on D-League assignment. This year, Clark has played in 22 games and averaged 1.9 points in 6.7 minutes per game.Cooley and Cotton are the 28th and 29th players called up to the NBA from the D-League this year and the fifth and sixth by the Jazz, who earlier called up Patrick Christopher, Elliot Williams, Elijah Millsap and Chris Johnson from the D-League. Utah Jazz: Reasons behind the newfound optimismlast_img read more

Lotulelei has come a long way to become a star on the defensive line for Super Bowl Panthers

first_imgI remember I was sitting in my office when he and his parents walked in and said ‘Hi coach, we just moved into the area.’ He was kind of quiet and didn’t say a whole lot, but obviously he was a good-looking athlete. It took just the first day or two of going through a workout before you knew he was something special. – Former Bingham High head football coach Dave Peck, on Star LotuleleiSAN JOSE — There was a time when Star Lotulelei was a long way from his current $10 million football job with the Carolina Panthers, a time when he was making around $10 an hour moving couches and tables.He was 18 years old, not going to school, working for a furniture company in Salt Lake doing what he called “back-breaking stuff” and finding himself getting fat and out of shape. It was a job he hated, frankly, and that’s when he realized he wanted more from his life.“I learned the hard way that football was what I needed to be doing,’’ he said. “Football’s not easy, but I have a lot more fun doing it.”Lotulelei was also inspired by watching his younger brother, Lowell, now a defensive tackle for the University of Utah, playing freshman football at Bingham High where he also had played.“Just going and watching my brother play, I was starting to miss it,” he said. “So I went down to Snow (College) to play football.”From Snow, he went on to star at the University of Utah and now the 6-foot-2, 320-pound Lotulelei finds himself on one of the world’s biggest sporting stages as a starting defensive lineman for Carolina in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara, Lotulelei will be chasing quarterback Peyton Manning and the rest of the Broncos, trying to lead Carolina to its first Super Bowl championship.“It hasn’t hit me yet,’’ he said earlier this week at the Super Bowl Media Day. “Maybe when I’m standing on the sideline Sunday it will hit me, but right now I’m trying to have fun and approach this like a regular-season game.”Ask Lotulelei the origin of his first name and he can’t tell you, except that his father was named Starlite by his grandparents.“I don’t know, I’m going to have to ask him,” he said earlier this week. “I’m starting to get that question a lot. I just know my name is Star Jr.”Lotulelei, who is the seventh of nine children of Star and Pesatina Lotulelei, was born in Tonga before moving to the United States as a youngster.Growing up with six older sisters had its advantages for young Star.“I didn’t have to do many chores. I took out the trash and mowed the lawn and that was about it. It was great,” he says with a laugh.His family moved from Utah County to South Jordan before his junior year of high school.“I remember I was sitting in my office when he and his parents walked in and said ‘Hi coach, we just moved into the area,’” said former Bingham High head football coach Dave Peck. One look at young Star and Peck knew he had hit the lottery.“He was kind of quiet and didn’t say a whole lot, but obviously he was a good-looking athlete,” Peck said. “It took just the first day or two of going through a workout before you knew he was something special.”At the time, Peck had enough good players to play guys on one side of the line or the other, but he made an exception for Lotulelei and Jordan Pendleton, a future standout for BYU, and let them play both offense and defense. Lotulelei was a tackle on each line, but preferred playing defense.In 2006, behind Lotulelei and Pendleton, Bingham High, which had sent players like Bruce Hardy and Kevin Curtis to the NFL, won its first state football title in more than 60 years.Lotulelei had scholarship offers from Oregon, Utah and BYU among others and initially accepted a scholarship to BYU. However, he didn’t qualify academically, so with few options, he ended up in the furniture-moving business for a season.When he got motivated to get back into football, he played for a year at Snow College, before coming back near home to play for the University of Utah.He quickly became a star there, starting as a sophomore and earning all-Pac-12 honors as a junior. At that point, he was tempted to turn professional, but decided to stay one more year.“He made the decision to come back and I think it’s paying dividends,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “His draft stock went up, he received his degree and the NFL career he’s having now is just phenomenal. I thought he was the best defensive interior lineman in the conference (as a senior) and in the country as well. He’s a tremendous talent.”Lotulelei earned first-team All-America honors at Utah and was drafted in the first round by Carolina, 14th overall, and soon after signed a four-year, $9.6 million contract. He started all 16 games as a rookie when he was named to several all-rookie teams and 13 of 14 games last year when he missed two games because of a foot injury.This year, Lotulelei has been a starter again and his numbers are down, partly because his job has been to clog up the middle and he’s often been taking on two blockers, allowing the rest of the D-line to find room.”They double-team him and when they double-team, I got the one-on-one and I gotta make the play,” fellow defensive tackle Kawaan Short told Sporting News earlier this year.Although he has a quiet demeanor, Lotulelei has become one of the team leaders in just his third year with the Panthers. Former Utah teammate Brian Blechen has been a member of the practice squad all year and has frequent interactions with basically the same guy. I got to Carolina and the whole locker room already respected Star and I’m pretty sure he got the respect the same way he got it at Utah. He rarely talks but when he does say something people listen. He’s great — everyone here loves him.”Lotulelei and his wife, Fuiva, a former Snow College volleyball player he met in Ephraim, are the parents of three children, two girls, 6 and 4, and a boy, Star III, who turns 2 in May. They all came out to California on Monday and will stay with friends in the San Francisco area as they await the big game.Star brightened up when talk of his family came up and he looks forward to spending more time with them once the season is over, back at their home in South Jordan.When he’s not playing football or spending time with his family, Lotulelei loves playing video games on his Xbox console. His brother, Lowell, calls him a “video–game addict.”Usually a soft-spoken type, Lotulelei got excited when a foreign reporter asked him about his favorite video games at media day. Unlike other athletes who play football or soccer games on video, Lotulelei prefers role-playing games like Assassin’s Creed and Sky Rim, while another of his favorites is Grand Theft Auto.“That’s all I do in my off time — spend time with my family, play video games and just relax,’’ he said.For now, there’s that big game on Sunday, where big No. 98 will be in the middle of the action, a long way from those days moving furniture.Of his upcoming Super Bowl experience, Lotulelei said, “My whole career has been like a dream come true, so this is just icing on the cake.”last_img read more

Finau falls to 10th at Tour Championship; Blair, Summerhays miss cut at finals

first_imgThis time, Tony Finau started well and faded at the end in his round at the PGA’s Tour Championship Friday at East Lake GC.Finau had started in a tie for fifth place after rebounding from a slow start, but after climbing as high as third place in Friday’s round, Finau struggled down the stretch and finished with a 71 to fall to a tie for 10th place at the midway point of the tournament.The 29-year-old Salt Lake native had stood at 2-under on the day and 5-under overall through 11 holes, but made bogeys at 12, 14 and 16 to shoot over par in a round for the first time in the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs and the first time since the opening round of the PGA Championship in mid-August.Finau needs to finish in at least a tie for third place to have any chance to win the season-long FedEx Cup Championship.Meanwhile, at the Tour Championship in Florida, Utahns Daniel Summerhays and Zac Blair saw their hopes to regain their PGA Tour cards come to an end when both missed the cut in the final event of the year.Summerhays rebounded from an opening-round 74 that included a quadruple bogey and shot a 4-under-par 67 Friday to finish at 141, while Blair fired a 68 to finish at 139. However, the cut came at 5-under-par 137. That means both players will need to go back to the Tour next year to try to earn their way back onto the PGA Tour. Tony Finau recovers from slow start, stands in fifth place after first round of Tour Championship Relatedlast_img read more