The Sports Matrix: Friday 25 November 2011


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Smith resigns post but Andrew stands firm at RFU HQ

The fallout from the leaked reports into England's disastrous World Cup campaign continued yesterday with the resignation of attack coach Brian Smith. The 45-year-old Australian, the only senior coach appointed by departed manager Martin Johnson, was one of those heavily criticised in the Rugby Players' Association review.

"I feel England have made great strides in the last three years," Smith (above) said. "Although the World Cup was massive disappointment, we won 10 of our last 13 games."

Director of elite rugby Rob Andrew steadfastly refused to follow Smith out the door. "I absolutely accept responsibility for what is going on here," he said. "But does it mean I'm going to resign? No, I'm not. Does it mean it's all broken? No, it doesn't." His verdict on the leakings was no less forthright: "I am absolutely shattered by it. This can't be allowed to continue."

The RFU headquarters at Twickenham were a hive of activity yesterday, with officials investigating who leaked the reports as well as ensuring centre Mike Tindall could begin his appeal against a fine in privacy. MORE

Higgins: UK event is being ruined

John Higgins has accused the sport's authorities of "ruining" the UK Championship after shortening the length of matches to best-of-11 frames. "Apparently it's for TV coverage," he said. "It has ruined the prestige." MORE

Strauss concerned over future of Tests

England captain Andrew Strauss has echoed comments made by his manager, Andy Flower, over worries for the future of Test cricket. "It's important to market the game as well as possible," he said. "We must knock our heads together to evaluate how to bring people to the game." MORE

Ballack: Chelsea are mentally weak

Michael Ballack believes Chelsea have lost the iron mental strength that brought so much success during Jose Mourinho's reign. Ballack's Bayer Leverkusen beat his former club 2-1 on Wednesday and he said: "We knew they were in a difficult moment. We could feel it on the pitch." MORE

Poyet stands by defence of Suarez

Gus Poyet has repeated his belief that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez did not make racist comments towards Patrice Evra last month. "Suarez is a lovely guy, and 100 per cent not a racist," Poyet told i. "In Uruguay [negrito] is a nickname; it is not offensive. Such people are part of society." MORE

Milan hold talks over £25m Tevez

Representatives acting for Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez have held talks with Milan over a possible £25m January transfer. Juventus and Internazionale are also interested in the 27-year-old, with City keen to facilitate the departure of a player who has not featured for two months. MORE

Battered Fish has had his chips

Mardy Fish concluded his campaign at the O2 with a third defeat in three matches – going down 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to Roger Federer, but departs London happy with his prize of sorts. "I've taken a lot of towels," he said of the complimentary gifts provided to players at the championships. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

While the Spanish giants fuel the epoch-making achievements of their national team – along with displaying the cream of the world in Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (left) – the Premier League tumbles down the table. MORE