Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Don’t discount Ireland for the Six Nations


By James Illingworth

The 2011 Six Nations kicks off shortly in Cardiff with much of the pre-tournament hype suggesting a two-horse race between France and England.

England’s favourites tag among English bookmakers looks unjustified if it is based on one decent performance in November against Australia, with the 2010 grand slam winners France surely still the team to beat.

But one quirk of the buildup is that Ireland appear to have been overlooked as serious challengers, a point not missed by England coach Martin Johnson.

As his Welsh counterpart Warren Gatland was doing his best Jose Mourinho impression by announcing that his team are planning to ‘wind-up’ English hooker Dylan Hartley, Johnson was keen to remind us not to write off the 2009 grand slam winners.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Would a unified Britain have won more than one World Cup?

Resistance to plans for a unified British soccer team for the 2012 London Olympics means the idea may well be a one-off, if it gets off the ground at all.

The four home nations are wary of setting precedents that could harm their independent status, despite their lack of success as separate entities.