Africa meets with others to spur Rugby

Babbou who was accompanied by the President of Ghana Rugby and Member of the Rugby Africa EXCO, Mr Herbert Mensah, was in London for the meeting with President of Rugby Europe, Mr Octavian Morariu.

They also discussed the project of a World Rugby Nations Championship and its implications for Tier 2 and Tier 3 countries.

They also met with the President of World Rugby, Mr Bill Beaumont and the CEO of World Rugby, Mr Brett Gosper, David Carrigy and other World Rugby Executives ahead of the meeting on the World Rugby Nations Championship.

The discussions touched on the future of Rugby in Africa, its immense potential and the strategies to keep growing the Game in Africa and improving performance at the same time.

According to Mr Babbou the encounter was a good platform to give his vision for the growth and development of Rugby in Africa as well as the challenges to Mr Beaumont and Mr Gosper and to touch base on the shared mission and vision of both rugby bodies to grow the global rugby family and to make it a sport for all, true to its values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect.

“As one of the fastest growing Regional Associations of World Rugby the meeting served to confirm Rugby Africa’s commitment to grow and develop rugby on the African continent with its huge untapped potential despite the challenges it is facing,” Babbou said.

Mr Herbert Mensah was invited to join the Rugby Africa EXCO in Marrakesh, Morocco, at its 13th General Assembly to contribute his experience in building commercial value for Rugby Africa.

“Both the formal and informal discussions laid the platform for Rugby Africa to work closely with its governing body, World Rugby, in chasing shared objectives and to open the doors for further discussions on support for a continent that has enormous scope for growth,” Babbou said

Both Babbou and Mensah believe the major challenge is and will be to establish sustainable funding for the development and tournament programmes of Rugby Africa as well as funding that will go beyond that to support its high-performance Unions to excel once it enters the global stage of Rugby.

Liverpool vs Barcelona: Why EPL side hiked ticket price of Champions League semi-final

Liverpool have taken a cue from Manchester United and hiked prices for away supporters when they host Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.

The plan is to subsidise tickets for own fans travelling to the Nou Camp, the Premier League club have said.

Manchester United had hiked prices for their quarter-final tie with Barcelona when the Spanish club charged 102 pounds ($132.50), which British media reported was the most expensive ticket to a United game outside of a final.

Liverpool have been allocated 4,620 away tickets priced at 119 Euros ($133.70) each for the first leg in Spain on May 1.

In response, the Merseyside club hiked their ticket prices for Barcelona supporters travelling to Anfield to the same amount, and will use the extra revenue to ensure Liverpool fans pay only 88 Euros for the first leg.

“All away tickets are priced at 119 Euros, which is in line with Barcelona’s pricing structure for the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League,” Liverpool said in a statement.

“As a result, LFC will charge Barcelona supporters a reciprocal ticket price of 119 Euros in the return leg at Anfield on Tuesday, May 7.

“The additional revenue from this higher ticket pricing will be used to subsidise Liverpool supporters for their tickets, reducing the price by 31 Euros to 88 Euros.”

Tottenham Hotspur play Ajax Amsterdam in the other semi-final with the final scheduled at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium in the Spanish capital on June 1.

Bill Gates sends strong message to Buhari

Philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates on Wednesday congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.

Philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates on Wednesday congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.

Speaking in a telephone call, Bill Gates said he was happy to be associated with the Nigerian President.

He also restated his commitment to the success of the administration as well as the progress, prosperity and well-being of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Gates expressed willingness to do more for the country.

Also speaking, President Buhari reiterated his belief that Gates’ wealth has benefited Nigeria’s development, and expressed appreciation for the call.

Buhari commended Bill Gates for his consistent and generous support to public causes around the globe, and specifically for supporting the eradication of polio and HIV diseases in Africa and Nigeria in particular.

A statement by Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu quoted him as saying “I am very happy the way your projects have touched the life of the average Nigerian.

“The people of this country have given their verdict.”

Jarrell Miller breaks silence on failing drug test, with Anthony Joshua bout in jeopardy

Jarrell Miller has denied “knowingly” taking a banned substance after he recorded an “adverse finding” in a drug test ahead of his world heavyweight title fight with Anthony Joshua.

Miller has been denied a licence by the New York State Athletic Commission to fight IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua on June 1 at the Madison Square Garden in New York.

The Brooklyn native also confirmed he plans to appeal the decision.

He wrote on Instragram: “I want to thank all of my supporters who have stood by me since day one and especially during this extremely difficult time.

“I have not been tuned in to social media and any other media outlets to focus and channel all of my energies into working hard with no distractions.

“I am absolutely devastated upon hearing the news my boxing license has been revoked in NY State and I will be vigorously appealing this decision. I have NEVER knowingly taken any banned substance and when I found out the news last night I was totally shocked.

“My team and I stand for integrity, decency and honesty and together we will stand to fight this with everything we have!

“This was a voluntarily test that I was very happy to do and these results came just one week after another voluntarily test that I had taken which was completely clean. I refuse to just lie down and let my dream be taken away from me when I know in my heart that I’ve done nothing wrong.

“15 years of hard work. I’m WARRIOR .. I don’t need a banned substance.

“Remember don’t believe everything you hear and see. The facts will prevail and I shall be vindicated. I don’t have anything to hide and the truth will make itself known.”

Champions League: What De Gea told Man Utd teammates after error against Barcelona

Manchester United goalkeeper, David de Gea, was “inconsolable” after his howler saw Barcelona progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League, apologising to his teammates.

De Gea had a game to forget on Tuesday night at Camp Nou, letting a tame effort from Lionel Messi squirm through his grasp and into the back of the net.

United had started the match well, but two goals from Messi in the space of four minutes gave the visitors a mountain to climb.

Manchester United goalkeeper, David de Gea, was “inconsolable” after his howler saw Barcelona progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League, apologising to his teammates.

De Gea had a game to forget on Tuesday night at Camp Nou, letting a tame effort from Lionel Messi squirm through his grasp and into the back of the net.

United had started the match well, but two goals from Messi in the space of four minutes gave the visitors a mountain to climb.

According to The UK Sun, De Gea was furious with himself for the costly error and apologised to the rest of the team in the dressing room after the game.

The Spaniard even claimed that he felt the side could have won the tie had he not made the mistake, with the side having needed just two goals to go through at that point.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sympathetic afterwards, saying: “That’s unfortunate with goalkeepers. When you make an error it can get highlighted and that’ll be remembered tonight.

Manchester United goalkeeper, David de Gea, was “inconsolable” after his howler saw Barcelona progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League, apologising to his teammates.

De Gea had a game to forget on Tuesday night at Camp Nou, letting a tame effort from Lionel Messi squirm through his grasp and into the back of the net.

United had started the match well, but two goals from Messi in the space of four minutes gave the visitors a mountain to climb.

According to The UK Sun, De Gea was furious with himself for the costly error and apologised to the rest of the team in the dressing room after the game.

The Spaniard even claimed that he felt the side could have won the tie had he not made the mistake, with the side having needed just two goals to go through at that point.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sympathetic afterwards, saying: “That’s unfortunate with goalkeepers. When you make an error it can get highlighted and that’ll be remembered tonight.

“But he made some fantastic saves as well, which all in all, his contribution to the team is good but sometimes that happens in football.

“You know when you get to this level you cannot slip up and you cannot make mistakes and you’ve got to take the chances you get yourself. And we didn’t capitalise on our great chance, but then they have their first two shots on target, that’s two goals and game over.”

Super Eagles, Black Stars friendly off

Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr’s wish to test the team with the Black Stars of Ghana ahead of the African Cup of Nations may not materialise.

Reports in Ghana suggested that the Black Stars would be in the UAE at the time of the match and it would be difficult making the trip to Nigeria to play the game.

According to a report on Footy-Ghana.com, Nigeria approached only one member of the Ghana authority.

“They actually wanted to play us [Ghana] in Nigeria and they had discussions with only the Deputy Sports Minister (Perry Okudzeto),” said Ghana football official.

“But we may be in United Arab Emirates which will be difficult.”

Ghana have chosen to hold a three-week pre-Afcon 2019 camping in Abu Dhabi. In recent past, the four-time African champions have used the United Arab Emirates (specifically Dubai) twice as pre-tournament base for some Nations Cup campaigns – first the 2013 Afcon in South Africa and the recent one, Gabon 2017.

Boxing News: Joshua-Miller fight off after New York denies license

Jarrell Miller on Wednesday was denied a license to box by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) over a failed drug test on Wednesday, scuppering his planned June 1 bout with world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

In a statement quoted by US media outlets, the NYSAC said Miller was barred from fighting in the state following the news of his positive doping case.

“The New York State Athletic Commission has denied Jarrell Miller’s professional boxing license application for a violation relating to the use of a prohibited substance. We have no further comment at this time,” the commission said.

Miller, who is undefeated in his 24 professional fights, was due to take on the Briton at Madison Square Garden for the WBA, IBF and WBO titles on June 1.

However on Tuesday it emerged Miller had tested positive for a banned substance following a test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) on March 20.

“We have been informed by VADA that there has been an adverse finding in Jarrell Miller’s sample collected on March 20th, 2019,” Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, tweeted.

Miller previously served a nine-month ban from the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for methylhexaneamine when kickboxing in 2014.

During their promotional tour for the fight, Miller revealed that both fighters had agreed to between 10 and 12 weeks of drug testing in the build-up to the bout.

ESPN reported that Joshua still planned to make his US debut as planned in June for what will be his seventh title defence.

Promoter Hearn said he was scrambling to find an alternative opponent.

“I am on the search for a new opponent,” Hearn said. “Literally anyone can get it. There are some names that would appeal to our partners – DAZN, Sky Sports and Madison Square Garden – more than others and it’s our job to get the ones that appeal most. I’ve spoken to 16 heavyweights in the last 24 hours, 10 of which are not suitable.”

UEFA Champions League News: ‘Cruel’ Champs League exit will not change Pep’s support of VAR

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted VAR does produce “fair football” despite a cruel Champions League quarterfinal exit on away goals to Tottenham after a pulsating tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.

City were 4-3 victors in Wednesday’s second leg, but for the third straight season failed to reach the last four under Guardiola as two big VAR reviews went in Spurs’ favour.

Firstly, Fernando Llorente’s decisive goal 17 minutes from time stood despite the ball appearing to clip the Spaniard’s hand on its way into the net.

Then deep into stoppage time, Raheem Sterling had the strike that would have sealed his hat-trick and seen City through ruled out after Sergio Aguero was shown to be offside in the build-up.

“I support VAR. It’s just to see the goal from Llorente is handball. From one angle looks like handball, from the angle the referee saw it doesn’t,” said Guardiola.

“I’m fine for the fair football, for the fair decisions. If it’s offside, it’s offside. In the future, even the present, it will be fair.”

Elimination ended City’s quest for a quadruple and Guardiola lamented a series of costly errors across both games, after Aguero also missed a penalty in the first leg, that saw his side bow out to a side 16 points behind them in the Premier League.

“It’s tough. We were close to go through, it’s cruel, but we have to accept it,” added Guardiola.

“The mistakes in this competition punish you a lot. Unfortunately it was a bad end for us.”

Unlike Guardiola, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has previously been a critic of VAR, but believes the decisions to award City a penalty in the first leg and not punish Fernandinho for a clash with Harry Kane balanced themselves out over the tie.

“You have to trust the VAR when it is against or for you,” said Pochettino. “The deicision to include VAR in football is going to change the game.”

And the Argentine labelled his players as “heroes” for reaching the semifinals of the European Cup for just the second time in their history after a season in which they have not signed a single player and played the majority of the campaign at a temporary home in Wembley.

“On this type of night, this type of victory, only I can feel proud. I feel they are heroes. With all the circumstances to be in the semifinals of the Champions League they deserve a lot of praise.”

SON SUSPENDED

Guardiola’s decision to not start Kevin de Bruyne in the first leg will be further questioned as the Belgian bagged a hat-trick of assists to take City to the brink of the last four.

The first set up the first of four goals in 11 minutes as Sterling opened the scoring.

However, Spurs struck back twice in three minutes as Son Heung-min’s double took his tally for the season to 20.

Yet, with Kane expected to be sidelined for the rest of the season, Pochettino has another selection headache with Son suspended for the first leg of Spurs’ semifinal against Ajax.

A kamikaze opening had another twist as Bernardo Silva’s effort deflected off Danny Rose and wrong-footed Hugo Lloris at his near post to bring City level on the night.

By the midway point of the first-half, the hosts were back in front as Bernardo and De Bruyne played creators once more and Sterling finished off a low cross at the back post.

Spurs’ hopes of holding on to their advantage on away goals suffered another blow when Moussa Sissoko was forced off with an injury.

Pochettino chose attack as the best form of defence by replacing the midfielder with Llorente in what proved to be a decisive change.

De Bruyne had his third assist on the hour mark as he surged through midfield before timing his pass for Aguero to perfection and the Argentine rifled past Lloris.

Having gone ahead for the first time in the tie, Guardiola soon sent on Fernandinho to restore some sense of control, but City were pegged back again as an incredible tie swung back in Tottenham’s favour.

Kieran Trippier’s corner was bundled in by Llorente, but there was controversy as the ball seemed to hit the striker’s arm on its way in.

After a VAR check, though, Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir stood by his original decision and the goal stood.

And VAR went against City again deep into stoppage time as delirium soon turned to disbelief inside the Etihad when what would have been a hat-trick for Sterling was ruled out.

UEFA Champions League News: Klopp can’t wait for Liverpool’s ‘proper football’ showdown with Barcelona

Jurgen Klopp admitted he cannot wait to lead Liverpool into a Champions League semifinal against Barcelona after watching his side crush Porto 4-1 in Portugal on Wednesday to complete a 6-1 aggregate victory in their last-eight tie.

On a wet night at the Estadio do Dragao, Liverpool weathered an early storm against Porto before scoring from their first attempt just before the half-hour, Sadio Mane prodding home for a goal given after a lengthy VAR review.

Already in control of this tie after a 2-0 win at Anfield in the first leg, Liverpool had effectively killed off Porto there and then, but Mohamed Salah, substitute Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk added further goals after the break.

Eder Militao scored a consolation for the hosts 21 minutes from time, but this was another miserable night for them after they lost 5-0 to the same opponents on this ground a year ago.

Liverpool now march on to a clash with Lionel Messi’s Barca, the first meeting of the clubs since a last-16 encounter in 2006/07 that the Reds won on away goals.

“I’m looking forward to it. The news that there is a proper football game between Barcelona and Liverpool is great,” said Klopp as his side move a step closer to matching their run to the final a year ago.

“To be in the semifinals for the second year running is a big statement. I am really proud of the boys for what they did.”

On the night Manchester City’s quadruple bid died, the dream of a Champions League and Premier League double remains alive for Liverpool and their supporters, whose spirits were not dampened by the dreary weather by the banks of the River Douro.

This was their 17th game without defeat and their eighth straight victory, although Barcelona will offer a far tougher test than Porto.

The first leg of that tie is in a fortnight, and in the meantime Liverpool will revert their focus to domestic matters, with games against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town up next.

“Tonight we are in the semifinals and we play on Sunday against Cardiff. That will be 100 percent on my mind when I wake up tomorrow and not Barcelona,” insisted Klopp.

With the matches coming thick and fast, he made three changes to his team here following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Chelsea. Firmino and Naby Keita, who both scored in the first leg, dropped out along with Jordan Henderson.

They were replaced by Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner and Divock Origi, with the latter making his first Champions League start for the club. However, the Belgian only played the first half before making way for Firmino.

EARLY ONSLAUGHT

He had hardly touched the ball during a Porto onslaught in the opening stages, sparked by a Jesus Corona shot just over the bar in the first minute.

They had 13 attempts on goal in the first 25 minutes, but would regret not scoring while on top.

“There was a very good football atmosphere and they used it and it was so powerful the game of Porto and so difficult to deal with,” Klopp said.

“Porto needed an early goal tonight and didn’t score it. I’m completely happy. It’s only important to go through, and we went through.”

Their opening goal came when Salah – his every touch jeered by the Porto support who felt he should have been sent off in the first leg – rolled the ball into the six-yard area for Mane to get his 22nd of the campaign.

The offside flag came up but Dutch referee Danny Makkelie conferred with his video assistants before awarding the goal.

Porto knew their chance was gone, with their fans cursing Mane again – he scored a hat-trick in Liverpool’s win here in the last 16 last season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold released Salah to run through and beat Iker Casillas on 65 minutes to make it 2-0, before Porto got their consolation shortly after when Militao headed in from an Alex Telles corner.

However, Mane missed the target after rounding Casillas, before Henderson set up fellow substitute Firmino to head in Liverpool’s third on 77 minutes and Van Dijk nodded in from a corner to complete the scoring.

“Like at Anfield, it was a harsh result for how we played,” said Porto coach Sergio Conceicao.

“If we had been more clinical, everything would have been different.”

Champions League: Rio Ferdinand blasts referees after Tottenham eliminate Man City

Former Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand, has insisted that Fernando Llorente’s dramatic winning goal for Spurs against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final, was a handball.

Llorente, who came on as a first-half substitute for Moussa Sissoko, bundled in a Kieran Trippier corner in the second half to level the scoreline on aggregate to 4-4.

With Spurs having beaten City 1-0 in the first leg at their new stadium, it meant that they had the advantage of the away goal.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir initially gave the goal, before checking it via VAR on his touchline monitor for a possible handball.

The ball appeared to possibly brush Llorente’s arm but go in off his hip and after a couple of minutes, Cakir let the goal stand.

“That’s off his arm for me. That’s hit his arm. Watch the skin on his arm, it moves.

“I’m just saying the ball’s hit his arm and then it’s up to the referee to determine whether its a handball or not.

“I think its handball personally I’ve got to be honest,” Ferdinand said on Bengbenro Sport.