Formula 1 is set for its first tripleheader after the sport's governing body approved a 21-race calendar for next season, according to Philip Duncan of the PA. The returning French Grand Prix, "pencilled in for June 24," will "kick off a streak of three consecutive races," with the Austrian GP to follow a week later and the British GP to be staged at Silverstone on July 8. With back-to-back races at Hockenheim in Germany, absent from the schedule this year, and the Hungarian GP also taking place in July, the sport's teams will be "pushed to their limit with an unprecedented five races taking place inside just six weeks." The calendar was approved by the FIA following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday (PA, 6/19). SKY SPORTS' James Galloway reported the order of the races is "largely the same as this year, with a couple of notable changes." The Azerbaijan GP in Baku will take place two months earlier on April 29, while the Russian GP in Sochi has been moved back to a late September slot after hosting this year's fourth round. The Singapore and Chinese GPs "remain subject to confirmation pending new hosting contracts." The season will begin in Australia on March 25, the same weekend as this year, and end in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 25 (SKY SPORTS, 6/19).
Cricket's "pay war has a new flashpoint date with July 3 replacing June 30 as the first true deadline for at least a temporary agreement to be struck to avoid an ugly standoff," according to Russell Gould of the Melbourne HERALD SUN. On that Monday, several nationally contracted players, including Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell, will be "required to report for duty in Brisbane and prepare for an Australia A tour to South Africa, which departs on July 7." Both will be out of contract at the end of this month if a new memorandum of understanding is "not agreed to" and "would not be obliged to front at the National Cricket Centre for training." Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association "will have that tour at front of mind when talks resume this week." It was confirmed that players will not be "locked out of training facilities even if a new deal is not in place by June 30." Most players have begun preseason training with their states and "roughly" 70 around the country are "bound by long term deals." They will "continue to be paid beyond the end of this month" and are "expected to continue training." All players have been told "they will maintain full access to all facilities after June 30, even if negotiations are continuing" (HERALD SUN, 6/19).
Australia’s "messy Super Rugby situation" will not necessarily become any clearer at Tuesday’s emergency general meeting, but Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver is "unlikely to be a sacrificial lamb," according to the AAP. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika "stressed" on Monday that he "remained loyal" to Pulver, whose position has "come under increasing speculation and scrutiny" because of the ARU’s decision to axe an Australian Super Rugby team and its "handling of the process." More than two months have elapsed since Australian rugby’s governing body "announced a franchise would be cut." However, the ARU admitted that it still has "no definitive timeline" on when it will decide the fate of Melbourne Rebels and Western Force. Pulver, whose contract expires in February, said that "if all the voting members told him it was time for change, he would step down immediately." It is "considered highly unlikely that will happen," as the Rugby Union Players' Association stressed it is "not seeking to remove Pulver, or any member of the ARU board" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/19).
A proposal which involves "increasing the number of teams in Super League to 13, or even 14, is being considered by the Rugby Football League as discussions begin on the format of the sport's league structure" for '18 and beyond, according to Aaron Bower of the London GUARDIAN. High-ranking officials from the RFL and Super League met at Haydock Park last week to discuss the future of the Super 8s structure. While no decision was reached, a proposal put forward by one club owner is "understood to have attracted particular interest." It included "bringing at least one extra side into the competition, with the leading contender for the extra slot likely to be Hull Kingston Rovers" if it fails to gain promotion from the Championship this season. The proposal also included plans to "potentially rise the number of teams in Super League even higher, with a 14th team coming in," although that would likely not occur until '19 at the earliest if the plans are "given the green light" by the RFL and the clubs (GUARDIAN, 6/19).