Sport – June 2017

FORMULA ONE, POST BERNIE

It may still be the same old picture in the Constructors’ Championship, but reigning champion Nico Rosberg’s replacement, Valtteri Bottas has stepped up to challenge team mate and enfant terrible, Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes’ new boy claimed the recent Russian Grand Prix, while Ferrari’s resurgence has seen Sebastian Vettel as a fixture on the podium already in the early races. Spicing up the season is the fact long standing supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been replaced as Chief Executive by Chase Carey with the culling extending to the calendar by one race from last season’s 21. The unlucky circuit? Surprising, Germany. Still the pinnacle of motorsport technology, F1 however, could do with a fuel injection to boost its waning popularity.

BLACK CAPS VIE FOR ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY

Starting with the Aussies on June 2, Kane Williamson and the Black Caps get a chance to build on their impressive home summer at the quick-fire ICC Champions Trophy. With little room for error because of the compact and gilt-edged draw, a loss in the round robin at this tournament often means disappointment and an early trip home. But, the good news for the Black Caps is they are at full strength and most of the nine IPL recruits have been shining for their franchises. As a bonus, the return of aggressive paceman Mitchell McClenaghan adds to their attack on responsive English pitches. After Australia, hosts England and Bangladesh await but the New Zealand side has pedigree in this competition, winning it in 2000 and coming up one short in 2009.

AMERICA’S CUP DOWN TO THE WIRE

The business end of the America’s Cup begins in the month of June, and the technological secrets of the boats will start to be truly unveiled. In the round robin, each syndicate will race each other twice with the top four going through to a semi-final series. The semi-finalists will face off depending on their round robin ranking and will race a first-to-five series, leaving the final two to battle it out for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The first boat to five wins will then proceed to the America’s Cup proper and will find James Spithill and Oracle Team USA ready and waiting. The first to seven wins takes the Auld Mug and that is the probably the simplest the regatta will get. Emirates Team New Zealand are favourites through the warm-up regattas to meet Oracle in the grand finale.

LIONS TOUR OF NZ

Coverage of the Lions tour of New Zealand will have reached saturation point by the time the first test comes around on June 24 in Auckland. Only occurring every 12 years, the roaring tour of British and Irish players and fans will bring noise, excitement and money to cities and the provinces, while on the field, the All Blacks will need to be wary. Former All Black and current Wales coach Warren Gatland coaches the tourists and he’s had an eternity to devise a plan to knock the world champs over. Added to the quality at Gatland’s disposal, injuries to many of the key All Blacks, including Dane Coles, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino, has meant they will be cutting it fine to return to rugby before the three test-series kick offs.

ALL WHITES TAKE ON WORLD AT CONFEDERATIONS CUP

As comfortable winners of the Oceania region, the All Whites earn themselves another tilt at the FIFA Confederations Cup and valuable international experience. Doubling as a practice run for the FIFA World Cup host Russia, the tournament is a collection of the current regional champions from South America (Chile), Central and North America (Mexico), Asia (Australia), Europe (Portugal) and Africa (Cameroon). Add to that host nation, Russia, and current world champs, Germany, and there’s some serious credibility. For the All Whites, being there is seen as good enough, and they will rub shoulders with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Russia’s Yuri Zhirkov and Mexico’s Javier Hernandez… all in the space of seven days.