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World Cup: Sweden's Jimmy Durmaz subjected to racist abuse after Germany defeat

World Cup: Sweden's Jimmy Durmaz subjected to racist abuse after Germany defeat

(CNN) - Sweden's Jimmy Durmaz was subjected to a torrent of online racist abuse in the aftermath of his side's dramatic World Cup defeat by reigning champion Germany Saturday.The 29-year-old subst ... Continue Reading
Eddie Jones: A coach under fire

Eddie Jones: A coach under fire

(CNN) - He was touted as the savior of English rugby, but at the moment Eddie Jones is searching for a second coming as England coach.

The 58-year-old Australian -- with the no-nonsense attitude, the deep well of pithy retorts, and the winning rugby resume -- is under fire.

Before Saturday's third Test 25-10 win over South Africa, England had lost its previous five matches. It was a run that contributed to the 2-1 series defeat in South Africa.

But Jones remains as combative as ever.

"These are the periods you look forward to where everyone thinks you're done and you have to find a way to win," he told reporters ahead of the third Test in South Africa.

"I'm enjoying it, loving it, absolutely loving it. Every job is the same. When you are doing well, everyone pats you on the back. When you are not doing well you're pulling knives out of your back. That's the reality of it."

For many observers, however, the much-traveled Jones is on borrowed time.

Ups and downs

The Tasmania-born Jones was appointed following England's disastrous showing at the 2015 World Cup, having masterminded Japan's shock victory against South Africa in the pool stage.

The win for the "Cherry Blossoms" enhanced the reputation of the street-wise coach who took Australia to the final of the World Cup in 2003, only to lose to Clive Woodward's England. He was also an advisor to the World Cup-winning South Africa side in 2007, largely credited with inspiring the Springboks back play.

A former player -- at hooker -- with Sydney's Randwick and then New South Wales, Jones gave up his job in teaching to go into coaching. He began at Randwick before moving to Japan -- land of his mother's birth -- eventually becoming assistant for the Japanese national side.

Back in Australia, his first big club coaching role came with the ACT Brumbies, who he guided to the Super 12 title in 2001.

He took over Australia shortly after, but following the highs of the World Cup final, the Wallabies hit a slump and Jones' contract was terminated in 2005.

There were other lows, too. Jones had a torrid time at the Queensland Reds in 2007, finishing bottom of the league. And after early promise, he aborted a stint with English club side Saracens, citing "personal reasons," in 2009.

Lapping it up

Returning to Japan, he took over as the national coach and revamped the set-up. His approach paid dividends, culminating in that spectacular 34-32 World Cup win over the Springboks.

After the tournament Jones took up a post with South African side Stormers, but after eight days England came calling for a replacement for embattled Word Cup coach Stuart Lancaster.

The impish Jones couldn't resist taking the reins of his old foe.

It seemed like the perfect fit. Jones wielded a broom among the established backroom staff, upped the fitness training and instilled a winning mentality.

He brought former England lock Steve Borthwick with him from the Japan set-up and took on Paul Gustard as another of his assistants. The attitude mirrored Jones -- hard-nosed and ruthless -- and the transformed team quickly clinched a first grand slam since 2003.

The English rugby public were lapping it up. Every interview with Jones, eyes sparkling, threw up another great one-liner.

That summer England toured Australia and beat the Wallabies 3-0. For Jones, a coach for hire, there was no emotion in beating his homeland, only satisfaction at a job done.

Back against the wall

England won all its matches that autumn to end the year unbeaten. Jones' men went into the 2017 Six Nations on a roll. But the first chink in the armour came when they lost the grand slam decider to Ireland in Dublin. England still won the Six Nations, but the defeat ended an 18-match winning streak.

This season, England only won two of its five games for its worst Six Nations finish.

Questions were beginning to be asked. A leaked video from a private corporate event showed Jones making disparaging remarks about Ireland and Wales. The heat was turned up on Jones, who had to issue an apology.

Rumours of discontent behind the scenes were rife, fueled by the decision of Gustard to leave to take up a role with Harlequins. Training regimes, which seemed to result in an unusually high number of injuries, were also questioned.

As defeats piled up, Jones met media inquisitors with increasing brevity and sarcasm. Two further defeats in South Africa have just increased the intensity.

After the England's first Test defeat by South Africa, Jones was also involved in a verbal spat with South African fans. "They've always got something to say here," Jones told Sky Sports.

The England coach later told reporters: "I asked the fan where I can get a good bottle of Pinotage and I'm still waiting for the answer. If someone can help me out, please help me out."

Detractors say it is history repeating itself. The Rugby Football Union insists it has no plans to review Jones' position.

But with just 15 months until the next World Cup, the Australian's back is firmly against the wall.

He'll tell you he wouldn't have it any other way.

Brooks Koepka wins back-to-back US Open titles

Brooks Koepka wins back-to-back US Open titles

(CNN) - Brooks Koepka became the first man to win back-to-back US Open titles for 29 years after overcoming a testing and controversial week at Shinnecock Hills.The 28-year-old Floridian triumphed ... Continue Reading
Geoff Hurst:

Geoff Hurst: "Winning a World Cup for your country changes your life"

(CNN) - It's been just over 50 years since England's World Cup victory against West Germany in 1966 and still to this day Geoff Hurst remains the first and only footballer to ever score a hat trick i ... Continue Reading
Phil Mickelson sparks controversy as four players tie for US Open lead

Phil Mickelson sparks controversy as four players tie for US Open lead

(CNN) - Phil Mickelson's "putt-gate" shenanigans at Shinnecock created a firestorm that will haunt his legacy on a tumultuous and controversial third day at the US Open.

The veteran American -- celebrating his 48th birthday -- ran after a still moving putt and hit the ball back towards the hole during his third round.

It's a no-no for kids on a crazy golf course, let alone a five-time major champion and former world No. 2 at the US Open.

But the left-hander's admission he deliberately incurred a two-shot penalty rather than risk running up a bigger score sparked criticism that he had bent the usual etiquette and spirit of the game.

The incident will always dog the colourful and often controversial Californian -- he later told critics to "toughen up" -- but Mickelson's mad-cap moment was just the start on a crazy day at Shinnecock Hills.

Two-time major winner Zach Johnson said the USGA had "lost the course" because the strengthening afternoon wind combined with slick greens and tough pin positions had made some holes extremely challenging.

Greens such as the 15th appeared to unfairly penalize good shots which landed close to the pin but ran off the putting surface.

Other players, however, were more measured and accepted the challenge for what it was. "It's a grind. But it's the US Open, you just have to keep plugging along. The guy who moves on the quickest usually plays the best," Koepka told Sky Sports.

Amid the furore, there was still a golf tournament to be won, and when Dustin Johnson missed a putt on the final green he fell back into a four-way share of the lead going into Sunday's final round.

The world No.1 is tied at three over with defending champion Brooks Koepka, alongside Daniel Berger and Tony Finau, who both carded rounds of 66 in benign morning conditions on Long Island.

England's 2013 champion Justin Rose was one of a number of overseas players who had to endure abuse from a raucous and highly charged New York crowd, but he held his nerve to sit one shot further back.

Twenty two players are bunched within five shots of the lead. They will be mindful that Arnold Palmer set a record US Open final-round comeback of seven shots when he won in 1960.

But Saturday at Shinnecock will always be remembered for Mickelson's antics.

The American had a 10-foot putt for bogey on the 13th hole, but the ball slid past and he watched it gather pace down a slope. He jogged after it and tapped it back up towards the hole as it was still rolling.

Mickelson then marked his stationary ball before taking two more putts for an eight, which was later corrected to a 10 after he was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

It dropped the veteran star to 16 over for the tournament, 20 shots adrift of then leader Dustin Johnson.

The USGA invoked Rule 14-5 which states a player "must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving."

According to the body, it was not relevant to apply golf rule 1-2 which says a player "must not take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play." Serious breaches of this rule could result in disqualification.

"He didn't deflect it or stop it. He played a moving ball. He made a stroke at a moving ball, which is, again, it's just explicitly covered under 14-5," said USGA official John Bodenhamer.

'Take advantage of the rules'

Afterwards, Mickelson, who finished with an 11-over 81 to end 17 over, told Fox: "I was just going back and forth and I'd gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.

"No question it was going to go down into the same spot behind the bunker. You take the two shots and you move on."

Asked whether he thought his actions were disrespectful, Mickelson added: "It was meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can. I don't mean it in any disrespect and if that's the way people take it, I apologize."

Mickelson is no stranger to controversy and caused significant ructions at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles when he criticized the captaincy of Tom Watson in the US team's losing press conference.

Mickelson's playing partner Andrew Johnston, who also struggled, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "His body acted quicker than his brain. I think you see it in different sports people do these wacky things. He wasn't doing it in a bad way or to try and get disqualified.

"It's brutal out there and he was upset the way he played the previous holes. It just got to him. I've never seen that in tournament, only when playing with my mates."

'Lost the course'

Shortly after Mickelson finished, Zach Johnson launched a scathing attack on the course set-up.

The 2007 Masters champion and 2015 British Open winner told Sky Sports the USGA had "lost the golf course," meaning the course had become out of control and a lottery because of the rising wind and slippery green conditions.

"When you have a championship that comes down to sheer luck, that's not right," he said.

The Shinnecock Hills course has a reputation for being a brutal test of golf in US Open conditions with slick greens and pins set in tough positions, allied to a baking sun and stiff breeze.

When the tournament was last held at the Long Island venue in 2004 - when Mickelson finished second to Retief Goosen -- officials had to water greens in between groups to stop them becoming too glassy.

"They lost it 14 years ago and they've lost it again," Johnson added.

However, Masters champion Patrick Reed saw no issues.

"I feel like they've kept it on the correct side. You have to go out and play good golf," he told Sky Sports.

Mickelson has finished runner-up a record six times in the US Open, the last major he needs to complete the set of all four of golf's big titles.

Only five players in history have won the career grand slam -- Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Mickelson may one day join that group, but "putt-gate" won't help his reputation.

Five-time gold medalist Missy Franklin opens up about depression

Five-time gold medalist Missy Franklin opens up about depression

(CNN) - Moments of glory for Olympic athletes are flashed around the word for all to see and share. But there's a counterpoint to the shock and awe of the photo finish or the podium wave -- when the ... Continue Reading
FIFA gives VAR the green light for 2018 World Cup

FIFA gives VAR the green light for 2018 World Cup

(CNN) - The use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) is one of the most polarizing issues in modern football. The technology has been rolled out in Italy, Spain and the USA, among other countries, ea ... Continue Reading

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