Sports Shorts

Is it the ‘end of an era’ for Ronaldo and Messi?

News and reactions from the world of sport, featuring Roger Federer and Sonny Bill Williams

1

Football 

No Messi or Ronaldo in Champions League quarter-finals

For the first time since the 2004-2005 season Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will not feature in the last eight of the Uefa Champions League. 

On Tuesday Ronaldo’s Juventus were shocked by Porto in the round of 16 and last night Messi’s Barcelona were knocked out by Paris Saint-Germain. Messi scored and also missed a penalty in the 1-1 draw in France, but PSG progressed 5-2 on aggregate. 

With neither Messi, 33, or Ronaldo, 36, in the quarters could we now be witnessing the “end of an era” for the anomaly, Yahoo! Sport reports. 

While the Messi-Ronaldo story looks to be winding down, a new European football rivalry has emerged between PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland. “The Messi-Ronaldo show may be ending - but the Mbappe-Haaland spin-off has already begun,” says Goal.com.

2

Horse racing 

Jockey banned over dead horse video

Irish jockey Rob James has had his amateur rider’s licence and point-to-point training permit revoked for 12 months - the last eight of which will be suspended - after video footage emerged of him sitting on a dead horse. 

“Laughs can be heard after James fleetingly sits on the horse, soon patting her before dismounting”, Racing Post reported. 

The latest scandal to hit horse racing comes just a week after trainer Gordon Elliott was banned for a year - six months suspended - after a picture circulated of the 43-year-old sitting on a dead horse.

3

Tennis 

Winning return for Federer

Tennis icon Roger Federer enjoyed a winning return to the sport beating Britain’s Daniel Evans in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. After his first appearance since the 2020 Australian Open the 39-year-old said it “feels good to be back”.

Federer, a 20-time grand slam champion, “begins his final chapter on his own terms”, says The Independent’s Tom Kershaw. “Supporters should savour every last forehand, backhand, smash and slice of his final act.”

4

Boxing

Sonny Bill to focus on boxing after retiring from rugby 

New Zealand sporting star Sonny Bill Williams has announced his retirement from both rugby codes and revealed he will focus on becoming a world champion boxer. The 35-year-old has a record of 7-0 to date and is now looking to take his boxing career “one step further”, Australia’s Nine Network reports. 

“I spoke to my manager, I said ‘bro I’m keen to get back into the ring, I’ve got a couple of years, I’m 35’,” he told Nine News Sydney. “I spoke to the wife first and she had blank eyes but like usual, she supported me.”

5

Rugby Union

England aim to ‘show what we are capable of’ against France

England rugby head coach Eddie Jones has made three changes to the starting XV for the Six Nations clash against France at Twickenham on Saturday (4.45pm). 

Bristol’s Max Malins makes his debut, replacing Elliot Daly at full-back, while forwards Charlie Ewels and Luke Cowan-Dickie also start. 

England are unable to defend their title after losing against Scotland and Wales, but Jones hopes his side can “show what we are capable of” against the French. “We are of course disappointed that we can’t defend the championship, but that makes this an even more important game,” he said.

In the weekend’s other fixtures Wales travel to Italy on Saturday (2.15pm) and Scotland host Ireland on Sunday (3pm).

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