Sports Shorts

MCG could host world’s biggest crowd since pandemic started

News and reactions from the world of sport, including Gareth Bale’s plan to return to Real Madrid

1

AFL

75,000 fans allowed to attend AFL matches at MCG 

An easing in the limit of spectator numbers at sporting events in Victoria, Australia could see the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) welcome 75,000 fans for the Australian Football League (AFL) clash between Carlton and Collingwood on Thursday. 

Attendance numbers in Victoria had been set at 50% capacity, but acting premier James Merlino has confirmed that this will be increased to 75%. Should the MCG welcome 75,000 fans for the AFL fixture it would be the “biggest sports crowd in the world since the Covid-19 pandemic began”, says The Guardian.  

AFL fixture boss Travis Auld said hosting the world’s biggest crowd is an “exciting prospect” and a “big moment in this country”. And the ABC’s Alister Nicholson believes that AFL’s return to the MCG is “another step towards normality for Melbourne”.

2

Football

Could Ings replace Aguero at City?

Southampton striker Danny Ings may be in line for a summer transfer to Premier League champions-elect Manchester City as a replacement for Sergio Aguero. 

City’s search for a successor has included Borussia Dortmund’s £100m-rated star Erling Haaland, says Sky Sports. However, England international Ings has been identified as a “more attainable option”.

Aguero, City’s record goalscorer, is out of contract at the end of the season and according to reports he could be on his way to Spanish giants Barcelona. 

3

Rugby Union 

Maitland out of Scotland’s Six Nations match in France 

Sean Maitland will not play for Scotland in their rearranged Six Nations match against France on Friday. The Saracens winger misses out after Scotland were only able to field five English-based players following a special agreement with the Premiership. 

Exeter’s Stuart Hogg and Sam Skinner, Harlequins’s Scott Steele, and Gloucester’s Alex Craig and Chris Harris were chosen ahead of Maitland for the fixture in Paris, which was postponed from 28 February after a Covid outbreak in the French camp. 

France will pip Wales to the Six Nations title if they beat Scotland by at least 21 points and score at least four tries, Rugby World reports. France would finish level with Wales on 20 points but would be ranked above them due to a better points difference.

Scotland squad 
  • Forwards: Simon Berghan, David Cherry, Alex Craig, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Rob Harley, Oli Kebble, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner, Grant Stewart, Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Hamish Watson
  • Backs: Jamie Dobie, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg (captain), Sam Johnson, Huw Jones, Rufus McLean, Duhan van der Merwe, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Scott Steele, Jaco van der Walt

4

Golf

McIlroy adds swing coach Cowen to his performance team 

Rory McIlroy has turned to swing coach Pete Cowen in a bid to return to his best form. After missing the cut at The Players, the Northern Irish golfer has added Cowen to his “performance team”.  

Cowen is “widely regarded as one of the top coaches in world golf”, says Sky Sports, and he has previously worked with majors winners such as Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett.

5

Football

Bale plans Real return 

Gareth Bale has revealed that he plans to return to Real Madrid when his loan spell with Tottenham finishes at the end of the season. The 31-year-old forward, who has scored ten goals in 25 games for Spurs, has one year left on his contract with the Spanish giants. 

“I think the main reason I came to Spurs this year was to play football first and foremost,” said the Wales international. “Going into the Euros I wanted to be match-fit. The original plan was to do a season at Spurs and after the Euros still have a year left at Real Madrid. My plan is to go back, that’s as far I have planned.”

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