Sky will take over British Open coverage NEXT year

Zach Johnson won the 2015 British Open

Zach Johnson won the 2015 British Open

Next year’s British Open will be on Sky for the first time after the BBC asked to be released from their contract one year earlier than planned.

Sky had been in line to take over live coverage of the Major from 2017 but following a request from the BBC to leave their committment early, the R & A have agreed and after discussions with the pay TV giant, they have handed the reins over to Sky one year early.

“We are looking forward to world-class coverage of The Open from our partners at Sky Sports and are grateful that they have stepped in a year early,” said Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, in a statement. 

“It is sad to see the BBC’s live coverage of The Open end and I know some fans will be disappointed.  The relationship between The R&A and the BBC spans more than 60 years and we understand the challenging circumstances that the BBC is currently presented with,” he continued. “I know the BBC will produce compelling highlights, which will be enjoyed by a large prime-time audience.

"We are committed to delivering a spectacular edition of The Open next year at Royal Troon and working with both Sky Sports and the BBC we will ensure compelling coverage for millions of fans throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland."

The BBC will continue to have a highlights programme and full radio coverage of the event.

Cian Healy named to start in Ireland team to face Romania

Cian Healy will have his first start at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday

Cian Healy will have his first start at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday

Joe Schmidt has named his side for Ireland’s second game at Rugby World Cup 2015 against Romania on Sunday and the big news is the return to the starting XV of Leinster powerhouse Cian Healy.

The prop's inclusion is one of a massive 12 changes made to the team that comfortably beat Canada last week in Cardiff.

In a bid to keep his squad fresh, Schmidt has made wholesale changes all over the pitch.

Healy will play his first international since facing Scotland in March in the Six Nations decider.

He makes up the front-row alongside Nathan White and Richardt Strauss while Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan get a chance to impress in the second-row. Jordi Murphy and Chris Henry also come into the side.
Tommy Bowe will be desperate to put his Twickenham nightmare behind him on the right wing.
There is a new look midfield with Darren Cave partnering Jared Payne with Simon Zebo deputising for Rob Kearney who is amongst the replacements.
Ian Madigan gets the nod ahead of Paddy Jackson and he links up with Eoin Reddan. 

Payne, Keith Earls and Jamie Heaslip, who captains the side, are the only players to keep their place.

Ireland (to play Romania) – S Zebo; T Bowe, J Payne, D Cave, K Earls; I Madigan, R Reddan; C Healy, R Strauss, N White; D Ryan, D Toner; J Murphy, C Henry, J Heaslip (capt).

Reps – S Cronin, J McGrath, T Furlong, P O’Connell, S O’Brien, C Murray, P Jackson, R Kearney.

Hurdling star Jezki ruled out for the season

Jezki, with Tony McCoy, as they won in Aintree last year

Jezki, with Tony McCoy, as they won in Aintree last year

Jessica Harrington’s stable star Jezki, winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2014, has been ruled out for the season after suffering a setback.

The seven-year-old found old foe Hurricane Fly too strong on his first three starts of last season, but ended the campaign on a high by landing the Aintree Hurdle and the World Series Hurdle on his first start over three miles at Punchestown.

Jessica Harrington's stable star was the ante-post favourite for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham next March, but is now set for a lengthy period on the sidelines.

Harrington said: "Unfortunately he's out for the season.

"He came back into training in the second week of August and we found he had some heat in his leg yesterday morning.

"It's hard to stomach, but it's one of those things."