Australian Football League side Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett refused to let his team play for points in China or India and labeled the AFL's experiment an "absolute waste of money," according to the AAP. Four clubs last week visited India "with a view to staging a game," while Shanghai is set to host its second AFL premiership match in round nine this year. Kennett said, "It will never live in India, it will never live in China. It is just an absolute waste of time and money." The former Victorian premier would "prefer officials stabilise the game at home before all else." He "took issue with minnows" such as St. Kilda "needing league help to balance their books." He said, "Most of the clubs are financially dependent on the AFL to open their doors. For goodness sake, surely we should be concentrating on making the game here self-supporting" (AAP, 3/13).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Premier League side Everton CEO Robert Elstone is set to leave the club and "return to rugby league after being approached to take up a role as the head of Super League," according to Aaron Bower of the London GUARDIAN. Elstone is seen by the 12 clubs as the "standout candidate" after they were "impressed by his experience in rugby league and other sports." No deal has yet been signed but it is thought the clubs are "confident of tempting Elstone away from Goodison Park and back to a sport in which he has significant experience." Elstone has been involved in Everton's plans to relocate to a new stadium at Bramley Moore dock and his departure would come at a "delicate time," with financing and planning for the stadium yet to be secured. The club declined to comment on his possible move. The 54-year-old has been at Everton since '05 (GUARDIAN, 3/13).
Spain's "rampant run" toward qualifying for the Rugby World Cup for the fist time in two decades has "seen interest rocket in what used to be a minority sport," according to Richard Martin of REUTERS. King Felipe VI was among the 16,000 supporters that "packed out the national stadium in Madrid" last Sunday to watch the team beat Germany 84-10. A win next Sunday in Belgium would see Spain qualify for the World Cup in Japan, which starts in Sept. '19. Spanish Rugby Federation President Alfonso Feijoo believes qualification "would catapult the sport's popularity." He said, "It would allow rugby to develop completely. The world will look upon us with different eyes, as a nation that can compete on the pitch and do things well off it." According to the federation, there are 210 rugby clubs in Spain and 35,000 registered players, 10% of whom are female, with participation increasing by 10-15% per year. Spain has also "become a big player" in organizing top-level fixtures. Barcelona's Camp Nou hosted the '16 Top14 final, registering the "largest ever attendance in European rugby" (REUTERS, 3/13).
Regional U23 teams are "set to be introduced into Welsh rugby," along with a reduction in the size of the Welsh Premier Division. The development sides are "likely to be up and running at the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Dragons from next season," and the semi-pro Welsh Premier Division is in line to be cut from 16 to 12 clubs from the start of the '19-20 campaign. These "radical changes are set to come in following an exhaustive competitions review" performed by the Welsh Rugby Union (WALES ONLINE, 3/13).
UK Anti-Doping told British athletes "not to refuse drugs tests if they are given collection kits that have recently been discontinued" by WADA. The global agency said last week that it "would seek alternative sources of sample collection kits" after Swiss manufacturer Berlinger Special announced it was "pulling out of the business." WADA said in January that it was looking into a "potential integrity issue" with Berlinger's sample collection bottles (REUTERS, 3/13).
Ireland "leapfrogged" England into second in rugby's world rankings after winning the Six Nations title. England's 22-16 defeat to France in Paris "crowned Ireland" as this year's champion after it had earlier beaten Scotland 28-8 in Dublin on Saturday. The results meant England dropped to third and Ireland moved up to second for the first time since Aug. '15. The All Blacks remained world No. 1 (STUFF, 3/13).
Volkswagen "ruled itself out of supplying engines" for the new FIA Formula 3 category, which will replace the GP3 Series on the F1 support bill for '19. The German manufacturer announced its F3 withdrawal while confirming it will "focus primarily on production-car competition" (MOTORSPORT, 3/13).