Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Scotland on their way back to London, but England match must wait a while

tartanScotland's soccer team return to London for the first time since 1999 at the end of this month -- but they won't be playing England at Wembley.

Instead they will face five-times world champions Brazil in a high profile friendly at the Emirates Stadium which should be filled close to its 60,000 capacity.

If that game goes ahead without trouble -- which is the most likely outcome -- it could give added impetus to the English FA's plans to host a one-off "home international" series in 2013 to mark their 150th anniversary.

That could then mark Scotland's return to Wembley for the first time since the stadium was re-opened four years ago.

The ultimate grudge match: When the Scots confounded England at Murrayfield

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SPORT RUGBY NATIONS SCOTLANDA slow and depressing decline after the glory of the 1980 grand slam was magically reversed during the winter of 1989-90 when England played rugby of skill, spirit and boundless optimism.

Nobody could match the English in Europe and their standards touched those attained by New Zealand and Australia, the pace setters in world rugby at the time.

Cathedral of Welsh rugby witnesses a truly epic clash

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There is something about the Welsh National Anthem – The Land of My Fathers – that makes the hairs of my back – and there are many of them – stand on end.
 
It always has done. Even as a sports-mad child growing up in the 1970s I eagerly anticipated settling down on the sofa to hear it before the likes of JPR Williams and Phil Bennett strutted their stuff on muddy rain-soaked pitches.
 
I’m not Welsh but to hear it bellowed out by over 70,000 passionate and emotional Welshmen, usually accompanying opera singer Katherine Jenkins, before a rugby international at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is one of the great experiences in sport.
 
Saturday was no exception. As a Reuters journalist I have been to the cathedral of Welsh rugby many times and as usual, my spine tingled as the Morriston Orpheus Choir, along with the Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh, led the singing.

There was also something in the damp cold air that suggested the following 80 minutes of rugby served up by Wales and Scotland might be something special as well. And so it proved in a manner few could have predicted.

What are the odds on getting the Six Nations winner right?

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Picking the winner of the Six Nations championship is always a tricky task as the vagaries of form and the fixture list ensure that no two seasons are the same.

France, who finished third last season, are rated 6/4 favourites by Ladbrokes while grand slam champions Ireland are only second-best at 9/4.

Home of Golf could do with more star quality

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BRITAIN/Scotland might be the “Home of Golf” but it seems the talent packed its bags and moved out long ago.

With nary a Scotsman in the 2008 Ryder Cup team and the country’s highest ranked player  Martin Laird at 104 in the world something is clearly very wrong with the game back home.

You can beat Europe’s top teams but you can’t beat the Six Nations

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odriscolSouthern hemisphere fans might scoff at the quality of Europe’s premier rugby competition but, yet again, the Six Nations championship has proved itself unrivalled when it comes to unpredictability and excitement.

Having waited 61 years for their second grand slam, Ireland were within seconds of having it cruelly ripped from their grasp, only for Stephen Jones’s last-minute penalty to fall short in Saturday’s nail-gnawingly tense Cardiff finale.

This glorious, unpredictable northern festival

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Wales' Leigh Halfpenny celebrates his try against England with Andy Powell during their Six Nations rugby union match in CardiffYou wouldn’t have got great odds on Wales and France coming out on top against England and Scotland respectively on the first day of the second weekend of the Six Nations.

But England beating Wales in the try count at the Millennium Stadium and Scotland taking the game to the French the way they did in St Denis were not forecasts I’d read anywhere.

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.

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