Ali Williams faces the press to announce his international retirement New Zealand lock Ali Williams has called time on his international career.
The 32-year-old won 77 caps over 11 years, making his debut against England at Twickenham in 2002.
Williams, who fought his way back from serious injury to help the All Blacks win the World Cup in 2011, will now focus on his club career.
“Guys, I just want to let you know first that I’m retiring from international rugby.
I’m hanging up the black jersey,” the Blues captain posted on Twitter .
“It’s been an amazing 10 years but it’s time to call it quits.
But I’m not hanging up the boots yet.” Retiring All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had named Williams as one of five locks in his training squad ahead of the three-Test tour by France.
However Hansen has praised Williams for making the decision to step aside.
“By retiring he is doing what’s best for the All Blacks and showing a tremendous amount of integrity by putting the team ahead of himself,” he said.
“It took a lot of courage to come back to top flight rugby and that is a measure of the man and shows just how much he loves the game.”
The future seems bright for the Premier League champions Sky Bet Football Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Football Betting 10 Free Bet Manchester United have slashed their interest payments with a new refinancing package boosting their finances.
Dealing though Bank Of America, the Premier League champions have cut their interest bill by 10million a year having have refinanced 177.78m of outstanding sterling bonds, on which they are currently paying a rate of 8.75%.
In addition they have refinanced approximately 17m of dollar bonds on which they are currently paying 8.375%.
United’s present debt is 370million, the sum remaining from a highly leveraged takeover by the Glazer family in 2005.
The new loan from June 24 will have an estimated starting interest rate of around 2.78%.
Interest payments should come down from around 31m to 21m per year United revealed in a statement.
Despite dire warnings of United’s financial position since that time, the Old Trafford outfit have won five Premier League titles and played in three Champions League finals.
Majid Ishaq, managing director of financial advisory group Rothschild, said: “It shows that the infrastructure is in place and the decision they made on the managerial front is viewed as, not negative, but positive.
“They are in a position today where they have gone back to the market to refinance that particular part of the financing on very attractive terms because they have really delivered, and grown the underlying revenue and profitability.” United said earlier this month it is on course to generate more than 350m this season after earning a record 91.7m in the three months to March 31.
Net profit more than trebled year-on-year to 3.6m in the third quarter.
“United is unique in that they have a great historic brand, and they have managed to derive value from that history and heritage in a very commercial way,” said Ishaq, a football finance expert.
“That’s a big positive for investors.” With their commercial income rising rapidly, it seems United continue to remain one of the sport’s heavyweights, shown last summer when they splashed out 24m on striker Robin van Persie.
It is believed new manager David Moyes will not be short of funds to spend should he wish ahead of the new season.
Jamie Murray: through to semi-final with doubles partner Colin Fleming British doubles pair Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray made it into the semi-finals of Power Horse Cup 2013 in Dusseldorf on Thursday.
The top seeds saw off the challenge of fellow Briton Jamie Murray and Australian John Peers 7-5 6-3.
They will take on another Briton in the last four in Dominic Inglot, whose partner is Treat Huey from the Philippines.
In the men’s singles in Germany, second seed Tommy Haas is out following a walkover defeat by Finnish sixth seed Jarkko Nieminen.
Juan Monaco, the third seed, is through to the semi-finals following a 6-3 6-4 triumph over Germany’s Tobias Kamke.
Elsewhere, Guido Pella, who beat the number one seed Janko Tipsarevic in the previous round, got the better of Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7/5) 7-5 while Igor Sijsling eased past Jan Hajek 6-3 6-1.
Alize Cornet: brushed aside Chanelle Scheepers to secure a place in semi-finals Alize Cornet swept into the semi-finals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg with a comfortable win over Chanelle Scheepers.
The third-seeded Frenchwoman saw off her South African opponent, the seventh seed, 6-3 6-1 in one hour and nine minutes.
Cornet carved out 13 break points, taking seven, as she put the Scheepers second serve to the sword.
In Thursday’s other last-eight clash Eugenie Bouchard of Canada was also a convincing winner as she saw off Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili 6-3 6-2.
Michael Lumb: Smashed 57 from 41 balls in Nottinghamshire chase Michael Lumb struck a fine half-century as Nottinghamshire claimed a seven-wicket Duckworth-Lewis victory over Warwickshire in their Yorkshire Bank 40 clash at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire set a total of 186-7 after being put in to bat by the Group A leaders in a contest which was initially reduced to 30 overs each due to adverse weather.
Lumb (57) made a blistering start to the chase before another rain delay led to the target being reduced, with James Taylor (39 not out) helping Nottinghamshire comfortably over the line.
More to follow…
Shuai Peng: brushed aside Sloane Stephens in straight sets on Thursday China’s Peng Shuai reached the semi-finals of the Brussels Open with a comfortable win over Sloane Stephens on Thursday.
Stephens, seeded four places above her opponent at number four, has stormed up the rankings this year to number 17 in the world.
However, Stephens was let down by her serve as she was broken six times in eight games – including all four of her service games in the first set – to lose 6-2 6-3 in an hour and 10 minutes.
Switzerland’s Romina Oprandi prevented an all-Chinese semi-final by beating Zheng Jie in three sets.
Oprandi broke three times in the first set and three more in a one-sided third, meaning the two service games she lost in the second were ultimately immaterial as she won 6-3 3-6 6-0.
Second seed Roberta Vinci won a tough second-round clash with Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva to reach the last eight.
The Italian lost a tight second set, but came through 6-3 5-7 6-2 in just over two hours.
But fifth seed Kirsten Flipkens crashed out at the same stage, beaten 6-4 3-6 7-5 by American Jamie Hampton.
Wolfsburg: crowned European champions at the home of Chelsea Sky Bet Football Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Football Betting 10 Free Bet German side Wolfsburg stunned favourites Lyon with a 1-0 victory to secure the Women’s Champions League crown at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
Having won the Frauen Bundesliga and German Cup in the past fortnight, die Wolfinnen completed a historic treble – an incredible feat considering they had never won a major trophy before this year.
It was all the more remarkable against a French side appearing in their fourth consecutive final and going for a third successive UEFA crown and also bodes well for German football with Borussia and Bayern playing Saturday’s men’s final.
The two teams exploded out of the blocks with Wolfsburg captain Nadine Kessler reacting fantastically to fire an overhead kick just wide while at the other end Lena Goessling was fortunate not to direct a Camille Abily effort into her own net.
Lyon grew in confidence as Amandine Henry came close with a thunderous header from a corner and they would have taken the lead had it not been for Ivonne Hartmann’s intervention to deny Megan Rapinoe and Lotta Schelin.
Wolfsburg soaked up the pressure and still looked dangerous on the counter-attack with Martina Muller firing a fine half-volley just wide before the interval.
Lyon continued to dominate in the second half and should have had a penalty when Hartmann handled a flick goalwards by Abily.
Referee Teodora Albon waved away the appeals and the France international was frustrated again with Vetterlein smartly stopping a stinging strike at the near post.
Elodie Thomis was next to be denied by the Wolfsburg goalkeeper and Lyon were made to pay for their lacklustre finishing in the 73rd minute.
Laura Georges handled in the box and Wolfsburg were awarded a spot-kick in front of the Matthew Harding Stand, which Muller lashed home down the middle.
Luisa Wensing stopped substitute Eugenie Le Sommer levelling immediately, before another replacement, Lara Dickenmann, had a strike saved as Lyon pushed desperately for parity.
Wolfsburg’s Lina Magull and Lyon midfielder Necib both came close in stoppage time, but the Germans held on to secure their first ever European title against a side previously unbeaten in 119 games (excluding penalty shoot-outs).
Gilles Simon: suffered a straight-sets loss to Pablo Andujar on Thursday Second and third seeds Gilles Simon and Sam Querrey have been were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur.
Simon was beaten in straight sets by Pablo Andujar, the fast-rising world number 53 continuing his good form with a 6-4 7-5 success.
Querrey squandered a one-set lead to lose 3-6 7-6 (7/2) 6-1 to Edouard Roger-Vasselin, the world number 75 setting up a semi-final against Spain’s Albert Montanes.
Montanes comfortably beat another Frenchman, Paul-Henri Mathieu, 6-4 6-1 to reach the last four.
But there will be two home players in the semi-finals after wild card Gael Monfils breezed past Holland’s Robin Haase 6-2 6-3.
Phil Taylor: Beaten by Andy Hamilton in back-and-forth quarter-final Phil Taylor was sent crashing out of the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters after a 10-8 defeat to Andy Hamilton in the quarter-finals.
The 16-time world champion took a 4-1 lead in the contest but was pegged back and eventually defeated by his fellow Stoke thrower in the inaugural tournament at the Dubai Tennis Centre.
Following Taylor’s hot start, Hamilton produced a stunning response as he reeled off five straight legs to take the advantage at 6-4.
The momentum then swung again as Taylor took the next three legs to edge back ahead, before Hamilton struck a crucial blow by winning three himself to move to the brink of victory.
Although Taylor managed to pull a leg back, Hamilton took out double top for a 14-dart leg to complete the victory.
Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld and Premier League winner Michael van Gerwen also progressed to the last four of the event.
Van Gerwen, who will face Hamilton in the semi-finals, defeated Wes Newton 10-7 while his fellow Dutchman van Barneveld hit four ton-plus finishes in the process of seeing off Adrian Lewis 10-6.
Van Barneveld’s semi-final opponent will be James Wade, who edged out Simon Whitlock 10-8.
Kevin O’Brien: a heroic display but still drew the match Kevin O’Brien was left distraught after Ireland were denied a famous one-day victory against Pakistan.
O’Brien swept the final ball from Saeed Ajmal for four to level the scores and leave the hosts agonisingly short of a first-ever Dublin triumph against a Test-playing nation.
“We’re not here to tie the game, we’re here to win it so that’s why it feels a little bit like a loss,” O’Brien said after hitting an unbeaten 84 from 47 balls.
“To come so close and not get over the line is going to be tough to take initially.
“But when we reflect on the game and think about it, it will probably become a little easier to take.” Memories of Ireland first-ever major success, against Pakistan on St Patrick’s Day at the 2007 World Cup, were revived as they made an unlikely pursuit of 276 in a match reduced to 47 overs by rain.
Needing 15 from his final over, O’Brien whacked Ajmal for six and another maximum off the last delivery would have won the game alongside Trent Johnston, who hit the winning runs against Pakistan in Jamaica six years ago.
“TJ mentioned that before the last ball,” O’Brien said.
“He came up to me and said: ‘How about you hit the winning runs this time?’ “Unfortunately it was one run less but it’s nice to get so close.” O’Brien admitted he could have even left the final ball and said: “It probably would have been a wide – that’s hindsight.
We actually missed two full tosses in that last over.
On another day they could have gone out of the ground and we could have won.” With the decider on Sunday, Thursday’s efforts left O’Brien upbeat about the chances of his team winning that game and securing a major confidence boost before their crucial 2015 World Cup qualifiers against Holland and Scotland later this summer.
“There’s no reason to fear Pakistan,” O’Brien added.
“They are obviously a great side, you have to give them the respect they deserve but we’ve come so close here.
“If the ball bounces another way on Sunday we come away with a victory.
We just have to look at where we didn’t quite perform today as a team and collectively and come back on Sunday and improve it.” Asad Shafiq, who added his ODI-best 84 in a score of 266-5 that was bumped up to 275 on the Duckworth-Lewis Method, said: “It’s actually a very good preparation for the Champions Trophy when you play a match like this.
“”It’s a balance.
We are not very happy or sad.
But Kevin O’Brien did a great job.
So did their whole team.”