Fiji books spot in 2019 Rugby World Cup

Updated 08 July 2017

Fiji books spot in 2019 Rugby World Cup

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga: Fiji claimed a place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup when it rallied to beat Tonga 14-10 on Saturday, securing the Pacific Nations Cup for the second straight year.
Tonga led 10-3 early in the second half but Fiji hit back with a try to lock Leone Nakarawa and two late penalties to flyhalf Ben Volavola to seal its win in a tight match at Teufaiva Stadium.
Fiji now joins Australia, Wales, Georgia and a qualifier from the Americas — either Canada or Uruguay — in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup as the Oceania No. 1 qualifier. It is the second team after the US to emerge from the qualifying process.
Samoa will host Fiji next weekend and remains in competition with Tonga for the Oceania No. 2 qualifying position which would send it to the Rugby World Cup in a pool comprising England, Argentina and France.
The third team from Oceania will compete in a repechage against a European team for a place in Japan.
The Oceania qualifying process is based on the combined results of the Pacific Nations Cup in 2016 and 2017.
Tonga, coming off last weekend’s upset win over Samoa, started strongly and rocked Fiji when it seized the lead with an early second-half try to prop Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
The teams had been locked at 3-3 after a first half in which Fiji scored first with a penalty to Volavola and Tonga replied with a penalty to scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua.
Fisi’ihoi’s try was converted by Takulua and gave Tonga a 10-3 lead but Fiji replied swiftly with an unconverted try to Nakarawa, reducing the lead to two points.
Volavola then kicked a penalty to put Fiji ahead 11-10, and another in the 74th minute to seal the win.
Fiji is enjoying an outstanding season in which it beat Italy and Scotland last month.
Fiji 14 (Leone Nakarawa try; Ben Volavola 3 penalties), Tonga 10 (Siegfried Fisi’ihoi try; Sonatane Takulua conversion, penalty). HT: 3-3

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

Updated 11 December 2019

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

  • Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation

MOSCOW: Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene on Tuesday accused her country’s own sports authorities of failing to protect athletes from the deepening doping crisis, in a rare public broadside at top officials.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday handed Russia a new, this time four-year, ban from top global sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with laboratory data.

The ruling means Russian athletes cleared to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will do so under a neutral flag. But Lasitskene and some other Russian track and field athletes face additional obstacles to being cleared for competition.

“I’ve already missed one Olympics and one-and-a-half years of international competition,” Lasitskene wrote in an open letter addressed to Russia’s sports authorities.

“And it seems that’s not the end of it. So who ultimately is to blame? Who’s going to give me back what I’ve lost?” she wrote in the letter published on Russian sports media outlet Championat.Com.

Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended for doping since 2015, and has been one of the few Russian athletes to voice her anger publicly.

World Athletics, the global body governing athletics, last month halted the reinstatement procedures for Russia’s athletics federation after its president and six others were provisionally suspended for serious breaches of anti-doping rules.

As a result of these fresh sanctions, World Athletics also said it was reviewing the process it has used in the past to clear some Russians, including Lasitskene, to compete internationally as neutrals.

“Why have we arrived at a situation when an athlete is supposed to be delighted about getting neutral status?” Lasitskene wrote.

“Was the Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee really happy with the Russian athletics federation’s work?”

The president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, on Monday dismissed the sanctions against Russia as inappropriate and excessive.