New Zealand are crowned as rugby’s world champions

Captain Richie McCaw of New Zealand lifts the World Cup aloft

Captain Richie McCaw of New Zealand lifts the World Cup aloft

New Zealand made sporting history at Twickenham as they became the first team to be crowned Rugby World Cup winners for a second successive time.

Tries in each half by wing Nehe Milner-Skudder and centre Ma'a Nonu, followed by a late Beauden Barrett breakaway score, plus 19 points from All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter – including an important late drop-goal – in his 112th and final Test before joining French club Racing 92, saw New Zealand home 34-17.

It extended their record World Cup winning run to 14 Tests, and means the Webb Ellis Cup will remain New Zealand's property as they claimed a third world crown since the competition began 28 years ago.

But they were briefly given a second-half scare as Australia threatened a remarkable fightback from 18 points adrift after 42 minutes as number eight David Pocock and centre Tevita Kuridrani scored tries, with fly-half Bernard Foley converting both touchdowns that followed an earlier penalty.

It proved to be a pulsating final, brilliantly refereed by Welshman Nigel Owens, but New Zealand had enough in the tank to guarantee a winning farewell to Test rugby for the likes of Carter, Nonu, Conrad Smith and probably 148 times-capped Captain Marvel Richie McCaw.

The tournament's best two teams played out a thrilling spectacle, with Australia often giving as good as they got, but New Zealand ultimately possessed a mastery of the key moments as they dug deep into rich resources of experience to see them home.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen toasted his side's triumph as the confirmed themselves to be the best side in the world

"I'm very proud of the boys. To be fair tot he Australians, I thought they played their heart out too so a big shout out to them," said Hansen. 

"It's a great way to finish. You couldn't script it any better. We'll celebrate at some stage I'm sure."

Australia head coach Michae Cheika offered up these views as he reflected on his side's failure to dilute their neighbours: 

"We fought back bravely, but they're the World Champions and they deserve to be," he stated. 

"I always beleived, even at the end – but it wasn't to be that way. I'm really proud of my lads and I really want to thank the Australian public, both here and in Australia, for getting behind rugby.

"New Zealand won fair and square and they've been the form team since the last World Cup. We wanted to challenge them tonight, and I think we did, but we just came up short."

Australia end Argentina’s World Cup dream

Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper scores his second try

Australia’s Adam Ashley-Cooper scores his second try


Australia survived a rousing second-half fightback from Argentina to register a 29-15 victory at Twickenham that sets up a World Cup final against old foes New Zealand next Saturday.

Adam Ashley-Cooper's hat-trick and a touch down by Rob Simmons helped the Wallabies reach the sport's global showpiece for the first time since 2003, but their fans were subjected to some nerve-shredding moments.

Roared on by an animated Diego Maradona who was watching from the stands, Argentina pegged back a 19-9 half-time deficit through the boot of Nicolas Sanchez and from the 54th minute they trailed by only a converted try.

But as they pressed for the precious score they needed to make their final debut, they were caught on the counter with eight minutes remaining by an inspired mazy run from Drew Mitchell with man of the match Ashley-Cooper on hand to complete his hat-trick.

The Wallabies, who were lifted by the return of David Pocock and Israel Folau from injury, lost shape early in the final quarter as the Pumas threw everything they had at their Rugby Championship rivals.

Pocock was magnificent once again, enforcing Australian rule of the breakdown, although Argentina were often their own worst enemies as they needlessly coughed up the ball time and again.

And while the Pumas ran out of ideas at times, their opponents were ruthless when offered sight of the whitewash.

Twickenham willed Argentina on and had they not made such a disastrous start in which they appeared determined to self-destruct, it could have been a different outcome.

Emotion was etched on to the Pumas' faces as they sang the national anthem and it was a lack of clear-thinking that enabled Australia to plunder a try inside the opening two minutes when Simmons picked off a telegraphed pass by Sanchez to score under the posts.

As if determined to blow their chances of a showdown with New Zealand, Argentina continued to make a series of naive mistakes, the worst of which saw Sanchez take a quick penalty just yards from his line and knock-on.

From the ensuing attacking scrum, Foley – who shortly before had performed a try-saving tackle on Marcelo Bosch – floated a perfectly judged long-range pass to Ashley-Cooper who raced over in the right corner.

Argentina trailed 14-3 after just 10 minutes and the bad news continued to pour in with a groggy Juan Imhoff being helped from the pitch with what appeared to be concussion.

Two penalties by Sanchez gave the Pumas hope, but this faded once more when lock Tomas Lavanini was sent to the sin-bin by Wayne Barnes for an illegal tackle on Folau, an act that resulted in jeers for the English referee from the pro-Argentina crowd.

Australia took the bold step of sending successive penalties into touch instead of going for goal and while the move did not immediately pay off, eventually the reward came.

After repeatedly switching the point of attack, holes began to appear in the Pumas' defence and Matt Giteau intelligently capitalised on an overlap by flinging a long pass to Ashley-Cooper for the wing's second try.

Argentina lost captain Agustin Creevy to injury, but there was an irrepressibility about their play and only desperate tackles prevented wing Santiago Cordero and centre Juan Martin Hernandez from scoring.

Foley missed a penalty, Australia's scrum collapsed in front of the posts and Sanchez slotted the three points as the deficit was narrowed to 19-12 amid a nervy start to the second half.

An exchange of penalties by Foley and Sanchez kept the scoreboard ticking over in a hard-fought third quarter that almost saw Argentina unlocked when Foley gathered a clever kick from Kurtley Beale, but the fly-half's final pass fell short of Ashley-Cooper.

Nerves were starting to afflict Australia, Foley steering a drop-goal off-target before Folau kicked into his own player to concede accidental offside that allowed the Pumas to renew their attack.

Argentina continued to be hamstrung by their error-count as they repeatedly coughed up possession and they were eventually caught on the counter with Mitchell blazing a trail into the 22 before supplying Ashley-Cooper with the final pass.

Australia had done enough to win and refused to allow their line to be breached as the Pumas pounded away in the final minutes.

Ireland end 108-year wait for Olympic hockey qualification

Craig Fulton: It hasn't sunk in yet

Craig Fulton: It hasn’t sunk in yet

Ireland’s men will become the first hockey team to represent the country at the Olympics since 1908.

Craig Fulton's side will compete in Rio next summer after their qualification was secured by Australia's victory against New Zealand in the Oceania Cup.

Ireland finished fifth in their World League semi-final in Antwerp back in July, but only the top three were guaranteed a ticket to Rio.

Their claim on one of the extra spots would have disappeared if New Zealand had won their continental cup ahead of Australia, who had already qualified for Rio, but the Black Sticks fell to a 3-2 defeat in Stratford.

Fulton said: "It probably hasn't sunk in yet but we're over the moon. It's testament to what the guys have achieved this year on and off the field."

The British Open is coming to Ireland in 2019

Stunning: The links at Royal Portrush

Stunning: The links at Royal Portrush

Royal Portrush will host the 2019 British Open, the first time a Major will have been played on the island of Ireland in over 60 years.

The long-awaited news was confirmed today by the R & A, and it will be the first time the British Open will have been held outside England and Scotland since Royal Portrush hosted the event in 1951.

After a succesful hosting of the much smaller Irish Open in 2012 it was mooted that one of the biggest sporting events in the world would return to the County Antrim course.

In the summer of 2014 it was revealed that the tournament would return to the course but the year was under wraps until today, when the 2019 tournament was confirmed.

From July 18-21 2019 the eyes of the sporting world will be on Royal Portrush and with the continued upswing in Irish golf, there is a good chance an Irish golfer or two will be in contention.

The news was announced on The Open website this morning and they published quotes from a number of big names welcoming the news.

Peter Unsworth, the Chairman of The R&A’s Championship Committee, said, “We are very much looking forward to bringing The Open to Royal Portrush in 2019 and believe it will be a tremendous venue for the Championship. We know there is great anticipation throughout Ireland at the prospect of welcoming the world’s top golfers and it promises to be a hugely memorable week. We are delighted with the progress being made on the course preparations and they will undoubtedly enhance the challenge presented by these historic links.”  

Acting First Minister Arlene Foster said, “I welcome today’s announcement that The Open Championship is to be held at Royal Portrush in 2019 and twice again in the future. Securing The Open Championship at Royal Portrush is a magnificent achievement. It is a key part of Tourism NI’s events strategy and is crucial to consolidating our efforts to grow visitor numbers and visitor spend.”

The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, said, "The potential economic return of £70 million makes The Open coming to Portrush in 2019 a success story not just for golf and golfing fans but our entire economy. I commend The R&A for their confidence and commitment to Portrush. For our part we stand ready to help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place and ensure the focus remains on the golf course. I have no doubt the 2019 Open at Royal Portush which will be broadcast to half a billion people worldwide will be a stunning sporting success.”

Darren Clarke, said, “This is going to be absolutely huge for Northern Ireland and, indeed, Ireland as a whole. To have the world’s biggest and best golf Championship played at such a fantastic venue as Royal Portrush, with all the passion that the Irish fans will bring to the event, is going to be amazing.”

Rory McIlroy, who lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool in 2014, added, “Royal Portrush is one of my favourite golf courses in the world. I think it will be a fantastic Open venue. They are going to add a couple of new holes to the golf course and I think that will be a great addition and will make the course even stronger. I’m really looking forward to it.”

We can't wait either.

Sexton out of quarter final tomorrow

Injury: Sexton

Injury: Sexton

Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of Ireland’s crunch World Cup quarter final against Argentina in Cardiff tomorrow.

Sexton had been passed fit to play yesterday, but the IRFU have today confirmed that he tightened up after training yesterday and Ian Madigan will deputise.

"Post training yesterday Johnny Sexton tightened up and although scans earlier in the week were normal a further scan yesterday afternoon revealed a very minor adductor strain," read a statement.

"It was therefore felt that it was better to withdraw him from the game rather than risk further injury. 

Ian Madigan will start at out-half and Paddy Jackson comes onto the bench."

Isaac Boss has been brought in to the squad as further scrum-half cover in place of Jared Payne. 

With Ian Madigan now starting tomorrow's match versus Argentina it's ideal for him to focus fully on the out-half position. 

The centre position vacated by Jared is well covered by Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls, Darren Cave and Luke Fitzgerald.