England stodgy, Ireland and Wales superb, Chelsea, City and Fulham great!

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RUGBY WORLD CUP: In their last pool games, England were ‘stodgy’ when knocking out Scotland 16-12 but Ireland and Wales were great in beating Italy 36-6 and Fiji 66-0 respectively, the latter sweet revenge for a 38-34 elimination defeat in 2007.

Tonga upset France 19-14 and New Zealand thumped Canada 79-15.

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Quarter-final line-up: on Saturday it’s Ireland v Wales (7am Spanish time when Sam Warburton will become the youngest-ever Welsh captain) and England (without Delon Armytage) v France (9.30am) and on Sunday it’s South Africa v Australia (7am) and New Zealand (minus Dan Carter) v Argentina (9.30am).

FOOTBALL – There were Champions League draws for Chelsea and Manchester United and victory for Arsenal and Europa League wins for Spurs, Fulham, Birmingham and Stoke.

In the Premiership last weekend, Manchester City (4-0 v Blackburn), Chelsea (5-1 v Bolton, with a Frank Lampard hat-trick), Liverpool (2-0 v 10-man Everton) and unbeaten Newcastle (2-1 v Wolves) all claimed away victories. Rafael Van der Vaart netted Spurs’ 10,000th goal in a 2-1 win over Arsenal; Fulham (with their first Premiership hat-trick hero, Andy Johnson) demolished QPR 6-0; leaders Manchester United (v Norwich), Swansea (v Stoke) and still-to-lose Villa (v Wigan) all recorded 2-0 wins and it was Sunderland 2 WBA 2.

Elsewhere, Southampton (Championship), Charlton (L1) and Southend (L2) lead their respective Divisions; Rangers’ are nine points clear in the SPL and how about Gateshead, top of the Blue Square Premiership!

Soccer Extra – Disgraced Carlos Tevez, suspended and fined £500,000 for refusing to play as a ‘sub’, should be banned from football for a year, at least! When I played, I couldn’t bear sitting on the sidelines…

Sunderland defender Titus Bramble is on bail after an alleged sexual assault and possessing a class ‘A’ drug…

Managers Sean O’Driscoll (Bournemouth), Keith Millen (Bristol City) and Steve McClaren (112 days in charge of Nottingham Forest) have all gone and Mick McCarthy (Wolves), Steve Kean (Blackburn), Owen Coyle (Bolton) and Neil Lennon (Celtic) are sweating! …

Getafe had seven players booked and one sent-off when losing 3-2 at Malaga… And congratulations to BBC’s John Motson, 40 years of commenting on 2,040 matches, 34 FA Cup finals and ten World Cups. Top man.

Fixtures: Euro 2012 qualifiers – Tomorrow: Andorra-Eire, MontenegroEngland (who might field two new caps), N. Ireland-Estonia, Wales-Switzerland and on Saturday: Leichtenstein-Scotland. All evening kick-offs.

SPORTS EXTRA – Dani Pedrosa won the Japanese MotoGP, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo with championship leader (by 40 points) Casey Stoner third… Andy Murray claimed his 19th tennis title with victory in Thailand

Danedream (Germany) won Sunday’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in record time… England’s cricket squad for their 20/20 and ODI tour to India includes Surrey’s South African-born quickie Stewart Meaker who replaces James Anderson…

The Dunhill Links tournament was an all-Irish affair with Michael Hoey first, Rory McIlroy second and Graeme McDowell joint third…

Liam Stewart, Rod’s son, can play ice hockey for England… On Saturday Old Trafford stages Rugby’s SL Grand final between St Helens and Leeds… And on Sunday it’s the Japanese F1 Grand Prix.

DID YOU KNOW?
Peter Crouch has become the sixth player to score for six Premiership clubs, following Andy Cole, Nicky Barmby, Les Ferdinand, Craig Bellamy and Marcus Bent. And Aston Villa have registered most Premiership draws so far – 228.

HOT-SHOT MESSI

Lionel Messi who netted twice in Barcelona’s 5-0 Champions League win over B.A.T.E., is now the club’s joint second top-scorer of all-time with Kubala on 194 goals. Cesar Rodriguez, 235 goals (1942-55) holds the overall record.

A fit Messi can score 500 goals before he’s 30 and 1,000 before he retires. Why not? Next week I’ll list the players who’ve hit 1,000 career goals. How many do you know?

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