In Brief

Sport shorts: Billy Vunipola tells Springboks to ‘bring it on’, Naomi Osaka withdraws from WTA Finals and Arsenal are in crisis

Ten things from the world of sport on Tuesday 29 October

1. Vunipola is ready for Boks battle

“Bring it on”. That’s Billy Vunipola’s response to South Africa who have vowed to “fight fire with fire” against England in the Rugby World Cup final.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s final in Yokohama, England No.8 Vunipola said: “They have already come out and said they want to fight fire with fire and I guess we return it by saying: ‘bring it on’. 

“It is a final and one of those things you have to front up to and one of their biggest assets and something we have been working on.”

‘Enjoy the third-fourth play-off’: Eddie Jones slaps down Warren Gatland 

2. Frenchman to ref final 

Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final will be the first officiated by a Frenchman after Jérôme Garcès was handed the honour for the clash in Yokohama. 

One of the world’s most experienced referees with 55 Tests, Garcès will be joined by compatriot Romain Poite and New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe as assistant referees and Kiwi Ben Skeen the TMO. 

“It is a dream as a referee, but this is a team sport, and as a team of four, we will be out there to do the best for the teams,” said Garcès.

3. Osaka withdraws from WTA Finals

Japan’s Naomi Osaka has been forced to withdraw from this week’s WTA Finals because of a shoulder injury. The world No.3 beat Petra Kvitova in her finals opener on Sunday but she will now be replaced by first alternate Kiki Bertens in the Red Group.

Osaka said: “I’m disappointed to have to withdraw from the finals. It has been a great event in Shenzhen, and it’s the biggest WTA event of the year. 

“This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season. I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year.”

4. Benn’s comeback is KO’d

Nigel Benn’s return to boxing is off after the 55-year-old suffered a shoulder injury. The former world middleweight and super-middleweight champion was supposed to fight 40-year-old Australian Sakio Bika in Birmingham on 23 November. 

Benn said: “With a heavy heart I am sad to say I had to make the hard decision today to hang up my boxing gloves. I’d like to thank you all for supporting me throughout my career but the time is up for me. I thank you all for giving me an unbelievable career.”

5. Milner’s not a fan of VAR

Liverpool midfielder James Milner has reiterated his “hate” for the video assistant referee (VAR).

The Guardian pointed out that the 33-year-old said in his book that he hates VAR and he confirmed: “Yeah. It’s in writing. So we’ll go with that. It might just be the old school part of me but I think there’s still too much debate around VAR. Goal-line technology is incredible. Instant decision. Black and white. 

“But it’s very hard to use VAR when you’ve still got opinions on the decisions and the atmosphere is being ruined. You score, there’s an explosion of noise and then it’s VAR. You wait. Is it a goal?”

6. England thrashed in T20 warm-up

England suffered an eight-wicket defeat to a New Zealand XI in their second Twenty20 warm-up match of the tour. James Vince hit 46 as England posted 188-5 but the Kiwi XI secured the win thanks to unbeaten 107 from opener Colin Munro at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln. 

7. Dale finally beats O’Sullivan - after 27 years

Welsh snooker player Dominic Dale has won against Ronnie O’Sullivan for the first time in ten attempts. After beating O’Sullivan 5-3 in the World Open qualifying round match in Yushan, China, Dale said: “It’s only taken me 27 years.”

8. Bale to China back on?

According to Spanish newspaper Marca the Gareth Bale “soap opera” has taken another twist. The out-of-favour Welshman was linked with a move from Real Madrid to China during the summer and reports suggest that he could try and secure a transfer to a Chinese club in January.  

9. Jos: Max should have said nothing

Max Verstappen is taking a lot of flak for his driving and the comments he made at last weekend’s Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix. 

The Red Bull ace, who was seeking his third successive win in Mexico, was stripped of pole position after ignoring a yellow flag following Valtteri Bottas’s crash in Q3. 

Verstappen was later given a three-place grid penalty after admitting in the post-qualifying press conference that he failed to slow down while Bottas’s Mercedes was stopped. 

Jos Verstappen believes his son should have kept quiet. He told Ziggo Sport: “We have discussed the press conference. I think he shouldn’t have said anything.

F1: ‘torpedo’ Max Verstappen slammed by critics and Lewis Hamilton

10. Arsenal boss Emery facing the sack

It’s a case of “when” and not “if” Unai Emery gets the sack, according to the British media.

The general consensus is that the Arsenal manager is living on borrowed time after his failure to leave his mark on the Emirates Stadium 15 months after his appointment.

The Sun reports that Emery will be lucky to last until the end of the year, and names former Gunner Mikel Arteta - currently assistant coach at Manchester City - as the joint favourite to replace his compatriot, along with Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo. 

Today’s back pages

Hector Bellerin urges Arsenal fans to forgive Granit Xhaka

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