Sunday, May 30, 2010

Plate success as Scotland secure Delhi sevens spot

SCOTLAND produced a bristling display to land the IRB World Sevens Series Plate at Murrayfield yesterday and deliver a major confidence boost to rugby's hopes of competing in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The team was under pressure after failing to reach the quarter-finals in any of the preceding seven tournaments of 2009-10, the Commonwealth Games Scotland demanding a top-eight finish as proof that they could compete in Delhi this autumn. the

Though they lost to England in a nail-biting cup quarter-final, by going on to beat South Africa and Argentina to win the Plate they effectively finished fifth in the final leg.

Samoa were crowned the IRB Sevens World Champions for the first time after an enthralling performance, but Stevie Gemmell, who now moves to another SRU role in player development after five years as sevens coach, was delighted.

He said: "It was unbelievable really. The boys were very disappointed to lose to England, but they showed real character and some great skills out there to end up winning five ties from six over the weekend, and beat top sides Fiji, USA, Wales, South Africa and Argentina.

"Their work-rate was immense and it was an outstanding effort against countries with far greater resources than ours. Scottish teams are too often knocked but this squad has provided a great lift to Scottish rugby and I hope these players can take the confidence from this into their XVs careers."

With the same Samoa squad expected to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, coach Stephen Betham said he believed they would provide new inspiration for young players in the Pacific Islands.

NZ offer SBW Commonwealth Games lure

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS has been offered the opportunity to compete at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games if he returns to New Zealand to push his claims for next year's Rugby World Cup.

All but incumbent All Blacks will be available for Commonwealth Games selection in October, and the Herald understands that the possibility of Williams representing New Zealand in India has been raised during negotiations with his manager, Khoder Nasser.

If he turns his back on a lucrative three-year deal with French club Toulon, worth $2 million a season, Williams's aim would be to make the All Blacks side for the October 30 Bledisloe Cup clash in Hong Kong, ahead of New Zealand's end-of-season tour to Europe.

But New Zealand's Sunday-Star Times reported that Williams's first rugby appearance in the national jersey could be before then, at the Commonwealth Games. He would also be eligible to represent NZ when Sevens rugby is introduced to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The 24-year-old has already played seven rugby league Tests for the Kiwis and if he plays for the All Blacks will be the first New Zealand league international to do so.

He has never played Sevens rugby but media commentators believe the temptation to pick him for the Commonwealth Games would prove difficult to resist.

All Blacks great Jonah Lomu, who also had a league background but played rugby at senior level, was introduced to the game at international level in Sevens, and New Zealand officials have told Williams he ''could be the next Jonah Lomu'' if he accepts their offer.

According to French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique, the NZRU's deal is worth $550,000 a year and only behind those of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and star five-eighth Dan Carter but Williams would have opportunities to earn more through third-party endorsements.

Coincidentally, the Crusaders are using the lure of playing alongside McCaw and Carter to try to get Williams to play for the Christchurch Super Rugby franchise.

Delhi gets its latest architectural marvel

Delhi will soon have a new tourist spot, just in time for the Commonwealth Games.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Memorial, an architectural marvel that promises to give an insight into the life and teachings of the Ninth Guru of Sikhs, is ready and likely to be inaugurated soon.

Constructed along National Highway 1 (GT Karnal Road) near Singh Border by Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC), the memorial would be known for his architecture, design and world-class illumination.

“It has a unique concept. The central pylon represents Guru Tegh Bahadur while the three semi-arches represent his three disciples. Ten monoliths around it represents ten Sikh Gurus and disseminate their teachings,” chief engineer Jose Kurian said.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who also has the charge of the tourism department, visited the memorial on Saturday evening and commented that this architectural marvel would also be known for its greenery and soothing landscape.

Celebrities to endorse traffic drives

Soon, you might be looking at Akshay Kumar, or even Shah Rukh Khan, asking you to use public transport during Commonwealth Games. Delhi Traffic Police have decided to rope in celebrities of Delhi origin to endorse its awareness drives during the Games.

“We are in the process of identifying the celebrities,” Ajay Chadha, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) said. “We hope they will have a great impact. They will appeal to the people to follow lane driving, give precedence to emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire brigade and police vans and also create awareness against drink driving.”

The special drives are likely to start in June and will continue till October. The traffic police have also joined hands with some social organisations to run the special drives, said Satyendra Garg, Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police (Traffic).

The Automobile Association of Upper India has been asked to help impart behaviour training to bus drivers, while the Society of Indian Automobiles will conduct educational activities such as seminars, debates and quiz, officials said.

For the first time in 44 years, UK Queen to skip Commonwealth Games

A packed appointments schedule has led Britain’s Queen Elizabeth to skip the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October. This will be the first time in 44 years that the monarch will be absent from the signature event.

Her heir, Prince Charles, will represent the British royal family.

“Prince Charles will represent the Royal Family in India and a message of support from the Monarch to the athletes will be read out,” the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “It is correct to say that the Queen will not be attending the Commonwealth Games this year. The sheer volume of engagements this autumn, coupled with other overseas visits, means she would not be able to attend.”

“The British High Commission in Delhi said it was delighted that Prince Charles would represent Her Majesty at the opening ceremony on October 3,” he added.

At previous edition of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006, the Queen had described the event as a “great sporting celebration”.

“The Commonwealth Games are both a product of our unique organisation as well as a tangible example of the value of this partnership of peoples,” she had said.

back to top