Steve Hansen has backed Warren Gatland's idea to stage a "decider" between the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand in 2021.

Gatland steered the Lions to a drawn series against Hansen's All Blacks in 2017 and will lead the team on a tour of South Africa next year.

The former Wales boss suggested a one-off match could be staged ahead of Tests against the Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks, in order to raise funds after the coronavirus pandemic.

While Hansen, who stepped down as All Blacks boss after the World Cup, stated such a game would not settle the 2017 series once and for all due to different personnel being involved, he believes it could be important to the sport's future.

"Well, it won't be a decider because it won't be the same people involved. But what he's really saying is let's have this game to try and help make some money for the game because the game is in trouble," Hansen told Wales Online.

"You have got one rugby nation, in the United States, who have gone bankrupt, we've got Australia on the brink, we know England have got a financial crisis, everybody will have because you are not getting paid the TV rights and those are what makes the game go round.

"The game is in financial crisis. People are struggling. So I think anything that allows us to create some income to support the game is important."

Hansen is now the director of rugby at Toyota Verblitz in Japan's Top League, which last month had its season cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The former All Blacks coach believes the suspension of rugby provides an opportunity to make sweeping changes for the good of the game.

"We have an opportunity now to start with a blank page because you have got everybody putting self-interest to the side," said Hansen.

"They know they could be gone if they don't do the right thing. So it's a great opportunity to bring everybody together, north, south, individual countries and do what it is right for the game. It's been a long time coming because it's been needed for quite some time.

"There has been a lot of self-interest and if we don't do the right thing we could lose the game and that would be a tragedy."

Graeme Smith has been appointed as Cricket South Africa's (CSA) director of cricket on a permanent basis.

The former Proteas captain was given the role for three months back in December.

It had been expected CSA would look to extend his time in the job and he has now been handed an initial two-year contract.

"Graeme has made a huge impact with his energy, expertise, hard work ethic and characteristic determination and passion he has brought to the position during the six months he has served in an acting capacity," said CSA acting chief executive Dr. Jacques Faul.

"Although there is certainly a great deal of work to be done, as reflected by the performances of our various national teams, he has certainly put our cricket on an upward trajectory that provides light at the end of the tunnel.

"He has bought into all the overall pillars of our strategy and that includes the important one of transformation.

"As far as the technical and support teams he has put together are concerned, the black generic component amounted to more than 70 per cent across the board and the Black African component varied between 30 and 60 per cent for the Standard Bank Proteas for the home international season, for the Momentum Proteas for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup and for the ICC under-19 World Cup, which we were privileged and proud to host.

"He also made a number of strategic temporary appointments with Linda Zondi appointed interim independent national selector, Ashwell Prince taking charge of South Africa A and Malibongwe Maketa joining the under-19 squad as a coaching consultant."

Smith added: "My appointment brings a degree of permanency to my position which makes planning the road ahead a lot easier.

"As Dr. Faul has said, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, not just at international level but throughout our pipeline development pathways as well but I am determined to get South African cricket back to where it belongs as one of the world leaders at international level."

Smith scored 9,265 Test runs and 6,989 in ODI cricket in a decorated career as an opening batsman for his country.

South Africa's youngest skipper, he is the most successful captain in Test history, having led the Proteas to 53 wins in the longest format.

However, they are winless in their last three series, with home defeats to Sri Lanka and England sandwiched by a whitewash in India. They also failed to progress beyond the group stage of last year's World Cup.

As Jurgen Klopp waits for Liverpool's 2019-20 Premier League coronation, he might look back fondly on this day in 2012 when he was nudging ever closer to glory with Borussia Dortmund.

BVB were also involved in a major news story exactly five years later, when their players were stunned by a bomb attack on their team bus before a Champions League game.

Phil Mickelson landed his first major golf title at the Masters in 2004, and a South African cricket great's downfall came on this day in 2000.

Here we look back here at standout sporting moments to have occurred on April 11 through the years.

 

2000 - Disgraced Cronje loses South Africa captaincy

Hansie Cronje was one of South Africa's greatest cricketers, and one of the country's most popular figures. His life unravelled in 2000, however, as it emerged that he had been corrupt.

He was stripped of the South Africa captaincy on April 11, 2000, within days of the first claims emerging, initially from India.

Cronje initially denied wrongdoing, but he later came clean, revealing the depths of his match-fixing dishonesty.

He was banned from cricket for life and died in a plane crash in June 2002. Cronje, nevertheless, is still fondly remembered by many in South Africa.

2004 - Mickelson's Masters

'Lefty' had been a leading contender for major glory for many years, and had been racking up second-placed and third-placed finishes, so it was high time he made a breakthrough.

At the age of 33, it finally came when the American landed a first Green Jacket, fending off Ernie Els by one shot at The Masters.

It was the first of three Augusta triumphs to date for Mickelson, whose third also came on April 11 in 2010, when a closing 67 saw Mickelson overtake 54-hole leader Lee Westwood to win by three.

2012 - Klopp's Dortmund pip Bayern to move to Bundesliga brink

This was Klopp's golden age at Dortmund, as BVB backed up their 2010-11 Bundesliga title campaign with what would be a double-winning season.

A 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich on April 11 was a pivotal moment, as it saw Dortmund pull six points clear of the Bavarians at the top of the table.

The only goal came in the second half with a neat backheel from Robert Lewandowski, who two years later would join Bayern in a stunning snatch for Die Roten.

Bayern, bossed by Jupp Heynckes at the time of this 2012 game, had a late opportunity to draw level, but Arjen Robben had a penalty saved.

Dortmund drubbed Bayern 5-2 in the DFB-Pokal final a month later, Lewandowski grabbing a hat-trick, and they won the league by eight points.

2017 - Dortmund rocked by bomb attack

All of Europe was shocked when three explosions struck the Borussia Dortmund team bus shortly before a Champions League home match against Monaco.

Dortmund defender Marc Bartra was injured, suffering a broken wrist and hand injury and had to undergo surgery, and there was relief nobody was killed. A police motorbike escort rider was also hurt after pipe bombs detonated in a roadside hedge by the team hotel.

Various terrorism theories were raised and investigated before a man was arrested and later charged and found guilty of the attack, having plotted it as part of an attempted elaborate, derivatives-based, financial fraud.

The man, a 29-year-old German-Russian, was jailed for 14 years after being found guilty on 28 counts of attempted murder.

Siya Kolisi says it is vital Nelson Mandela's legacy continues as the South Africa captain opened up on his role in helping the country fight coronavirus.

Kolisi, who skippered the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory last year, was due to launch his foundation later in 2020.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has launched Kolisi into immediate action and he has partnered with others to make donations to provide vital supplies to frontline medical workers tackling the crisis.

An Instagram post from the flanker's foundation last week explained: "Whilst the Kolisi Foundation was months from launching with different projects in mind, we couldn't ignore the seriousness of COVID-19 so began to focus our energy and resources on supporting our frontline workers – supplying sanitisers and reusable masks. 

"We are thankful that we have been able to lean on our incredible partners to support the project and will look to partner with other established organisations in the future to guarantee our work is as impactful as possible, addressing hunger and other areas close to our heart."

Kolisi said part of his motivation is ensuring the work of former president Mandela continues.

"I just think his legacy must still continue, the rainbow nation he wanted to see,"he told BBC Breakfast.

"Actually working partnering up with the foundation, helping the frontline workers, we're all trying to attack the hunger and help the workers. 

"Just thinking of other people, the way he lived his life, he always wanted to make South Africa better, that's what we're trying to realise to make sure his legacy continues and because we have a beautiful country, so much potential, we can achieve so much. 

"Hopefully can inspire other people too."

Kolisi is drawing on his own experiences of playing as part of a team to aid a country that has had over 1,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has one of the world's strictest lockdowns.

"It's really tough and I think playing in a team squad, this is going to be a team effort from everyone in South Africa and everyone in general, I think everybody has a role to play," he added. 

"It's a time for people to stay at home and not leave our houses, we have a complete lockdown our president has acted swiftly. 

"I think for people who are in a fortunate basis who can help others, food is a big problem at the moment, we're pushing hard on fighting the hunger, making sure people get meals there are a lot kids who go to school just to get one meal.

"I'm trying to provide for that and making sure we help as much as we can."

Wayde van Niekerk says it was "an amazing inspiration" to see South Africa win the Rugby World Cup – especially as the team contained friends and family.

The Springboks triumphed 32-12 over England in the final in Yokohama on November 2 last year to become world champions for the third time.

Olympic 400-metre champion and world-record holder Van Niekerk says the players deserve all the accolades and sponsorship bonuses they have received for their momentous success.

"It's been an amazing inspiration for not just myself but the entire country, and yet another spark for myself as a South African to want to achieve great things," he told Stats Perform.

"I'm quite close friends with a few players and it's great to see how their lives have changed and the blessings and the sponsors and so on that are coming their way. It's amazing, it's well deserved and it's great."

Van Niekerk is friends with several key South Africa players, including captain Siya Kolisi, and he is a cousin of Cheslin Kolbe.

Kolbe battled back from injury in time to play against England and went on to score the final try of the match, capping a terrific 2019 that saw him nominated alongside eventual winner Pieter-Steph du Toit for World Rugby's Player of the Year award.

Van Niekerk recalled: "Thinking back to Cheslin's final try: he's come through so much, moving to France, thinking that he wouldn't make the SA team, and just wanting to go and enjoy his rugby and then getting selected for the World Cup.

"The final try was amazing but let's be honest, his entire tournament, I feel like he was one of the players of the tournament and one of the highlights of the Rugby World Cup.

"I think it's such a blessing and such an amazing blessing to be associated with such great people, like Siya and Cheslin, it's lovely to be associated with them and draw off of them and use them as inspiration for myself, coming back from injury and wanting to do great things for my country the way they did."

Cricket South Africa (CSA) is not planning to implement pay cuts for Proteas players during the coronavirus pandemic, though future salaries could be affected.

The Proteas' tour of India in March was cut short due to the proliferation of COVID-19 and all forms of cricket in South Africa were cancelled for 60 days on March 16.

Australia's visit to face the women's team was called off, while trips for the men to Sri Lanka in June and the West Indies in July could be in jeopardy if the situation has not improved six weeks prior to the start of those respective tours.

However, CSA chief executive Jacques Faul does not anticipate the salaries of players to be impacted in the short term, though the pot for future payments may have to be reduced.

"For now we've budgeted for the amount. It's a centralised system so both the Proteas and the franchise players have been budgeted for and we have enough to see through the next season," said Faul during a conference call.

"The players will lose out on match fees and win bonuses. If these tours are rescheduled they'll get the money. In the long term even if we cover this season we have to look at what it's going to be post this season and the financial impact of that and how much will be available to contract players.

"We've got to crunch the numbers first and experience the total effect of COVID-19, but it is a possibility the players will be receiving less of a player payment pool.

"I cannot see anyone for now getting less money than they're contracted for, but in future the allocation going to players I can see that being less."

Graeme Smith signed a three-month contract as director of cricket in December and Faul stated clarity on the former captain's tenure will be provided next week.

"We're in final negotiations with Graeme there will be an announcement next week," he said.

"We're at an advanced stage of the negotiations and hopefully we can make an announcement next week."

The British and Irish Lions have no concerns that the rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympic Games will overshadow the tour of South Africa next year.

It was announced on Monday that the Games in Japan will be staged from July 23 to August 8, 2021 after being postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Lions start the three-Test series against world champions South Africa on July 24, with further showdowns to come on July 31 and August 7.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley says kick-off times will prevent sports lovers from missing any of the action.

"Fans should not miss out on any action," said Calveley.

"We are determined to play our part in what will be an extraordinary summer of sport."

He added: "The priority right now has to be the safety and well-being of all those affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"There should not be any direct clashes with Lions matches and Olympic events given the time difference between South Africa and Tokyo.

"We are expecting a fantastic series against the world champions."

March 24 was a momentous date in the world of cricket, just for all the wrong reasons.

The actions of an opening batsman during a 2018 Test series with South Africa plunged Australian cricket into crisis.

Six years earlier, one of the greatest footballers of the modern generation made Spanish football history.

It is also a date that marked the end of the career of arguably the best tight end to ever play a snap in the NFL.

We look back at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1936: Red Wings outlast Maroons in NHL marathon

Want an easy way to lose weight? Play nearly three full NHL games in one day. 

That's what Detroit Red Wings goaltender Normie Smith and his team-mates did as they defeated the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the first game of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, the longest game in NHL history.

Smith reportedly made 92 saves, losing 12 pounds of body weight in the process, before Mud Bruneteau scored the decisive goal in the sixth overtime period at the Montreal Forum, the game finally coming to a close at 2:25am.

Detroit went on to win their first Stanley Cup. Thankfully, shootouts mean such epics are no longer necessary in today's NHL.

2012: Ronaldo races to LaLiga landmark

Cristiano Ronaldo elevated himself from superstar to candidate for greatest of all time during his glittering career at Real Madrid.

Even in a spell that included four Champions League titles and two LaLiga crowns, his achievement of eight years ago against Real Sociedad ranks among his finest at Los Blancos.

Ronaldo netted twice in a 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, making him the fastest player to reach LaLiga 100 goals.

He reached his century in just 92 games, surpassing the mark set by fellow Madrid great Ferenc Puskas, who did the same in 105 games.

2018: Bancroft caught on camera

Australian cricket was plunged into a ball-tampering scandal on the third day of the third Test with South Africa. 

Footage emerged of Cameron Bancroft rubbing the ball with a yellow object, later revealed to be sandpaper.

His attempts to rough up the ball led to unprecedented sanctions being handed out by Cricket Australia. 

Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned from all forms of domestic and international cricket for 12 months for their roles in the incident.

They were also stood down from the respective leadership roles, with Warner removed from future consideration for such positions. Bancroft, meanwhile, was banned for nine months.

2019: Gronk bows out a champion

Rob Gronkowski became the gold standard at tight end in a career that will surely see him one day enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

However, the well-documented injuries he battled throughout his time in the NFL took their toll and he hung up the cleats after nine seasons in the league.

He went out a champion, however, helping the New England Patriots to their sixth Lombardi Trophy with victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII a month prior to his retirement.

Gronkowski won three Super Bowl rings with New England and, despite retiring before the age of 30, he ended his career widely regarded as the pre-eminent tight end in NFL history.

March 22 is probably not a date that is circled in the calendars for South Africa cricket fans and Steven Gerrard.

Those of a Proteas persuasion will remember it as the day their rotten luck at Cricket World Cups began.

Whereas for Liverpool legend Gerrard it was the afternoon the red mist descended in one of the biggest club rivalries.

We take a look at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1906 - The first rugby union international between France and England

The Parc des Prince hosted the inaugural Le Crunch as England defeated France 35-8, beginning a 16-game winless run in the fixture for Les Bleus.

A 24-17 victory for France in the Six Nations last month gave them their 41st win in the 106 meetings between the two nations.

England have beaten Les Bleus on 58 occasions, including in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2003 and 2007. 

1992 - Proteas eliminated from Cricket World Cup in farcical fashion

No one does Cricket World Cup semi-final heartache quite like South Africa.

There was the dramatic 1999 tie against Australia that resulted in the Proteas being eliminated due to an inferior net run rate at the Super Six stage. Then, six years ago, Grant Elliott's heroics helped New Zealand reach the final.

But perhaps nothing compares to the farce of 1992, when South Africa fell foul of new rain rules.

When the heavens opened and play was stopped, South Africa needed 22 runs from 13 balls to beat England.

However, when they returned, the implementation of some bizarre rules meant they required an insurmountable 21 off one delivery. The rules were soon scrapped, but that was no shred of comfort to South Africa.

 

2015 - Steven Gerrard sent off 38 seconds after coming on against Manchester United

It was a case of 'Gone in 38 seconds' for Liverpool captain Gerrard five years ago as he made an unforgettable immediate impact.

Shortly after coming on as a half-time substitute in the Premier League match at Anfield, Gerrard stamped on Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera, prompting referee Martin Atkinson to send him off the field moments after he had arrived.

"I need to accept it; the decision was right," Gerrard told Sky Sports after. "I've let down my team-mates and the fans."

United, who were leading 1-0 at the time, claimed a 2-1 victory thanks to Juan Mata's brace.

Pieter-Steph du Toit could have required a leg amputation had it not been for the diligent work of Stormers team doctor Jason Suter, according to coach John Dobson.

World Rugby Player of the Year Du Toit limped out of the Super Rugby defeat to the Blues last month with what did not appear to be a serious injury.

However, a rapid diagnosis from the Stormers medical team at Newlands made it clear that the South Africa flanker's career was in doubt, but he is only set to be out for three months after undergoing surgery.

Dobson said: "Doc deserves enormous credit for Pieter-Steph, had a rugby player lost his leg it would have been devastating for the game. 

"And if it wasn't for the timely intervention then I think [he could have lost his leg]... almost half of the 43 reported cases [worldwide] had resulted in that."

Suter said it took less than 15 minutes to understand the extent of Rugby World Cup-winner Du Toit's injury. 

"He had a medical emergency after the Blues game. He had a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome. It's incredibly rare - there have been only 43 [cases] listed in the literature." Suter said.

He added: "It's a medical emergency because if you don't pick it up early they lose blood supply to the leg and they lose the leg.

"Within 15 minutes of him coming off the field and assessing him, we realised that he was at risk of this particular rare condition. 

"He was taken straight to Vincent Pallotti [Hospital], where he had a vascular surgeon waiting and he was operated on that night.

"It's very unusual, very rare but they had to cut through the muscle to release the pressure and they were only able to close that leg 10 days after his initial injury."

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has suspended all forms of cricket for 60 days following new national guidelines aimed at dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has banned all public gatherings of 100 people or more and imposed strict border controls after the number of confirmed cases in the country reached 64.

As such, CSA has cancelled all forms of cricket, from junior and amateur level up to first-class matches.

Dr Jacques Faul, acting chief executive of the governing body, said in a statement: "We at CSA take this pronouncement by the president and the cabinet very seriously and we will most certainly use our leverage to ensure that we minimise the impact of the virus in our spaces.

"Consequently and during this time of absolute caution and surveillance, we would like to call upon all our members and affiliates to desist from taking part in any cricket related gatherings and other transversal events that will include the congregation of large numbers of people and/or up to 100 people".

The senior South Africa men's team is not due to play again until a tour of the West Indies in late July. Their ODI series against India this month was postponed.

The sporting calendar over the next few weeks looks extremely bare as events continue to be postponed or cancelled as a result of the threat of the coronavirus.

All of Europe's top five leagues have now been suspended, as the Bundesliga followed Serie A, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League in calling a halt to proceedings just hours before its latest round of fixtures was due to kick off.

Golf's first major, the Masters, will not take place on April 9 as initially scheduled, while the Giro d'Italia, the final Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, and marathons in London and Boston have all been affected by COVID-19, too.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 140,000, we take a look at the latest round of postponements.

 

After the PGA Tour cancelled all events leading up the Masters, all eyes were on whether the prestigious event at Augusta National Golf Club would be called off until further notice. That news arrived on Friday, with organisers saying it was "appropriate under these unique circumstances".

With around four hours to go before the first Bundesliga game of matchday 26, the league was finally suspended due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.

Defender Timo Hubers, who plays for 2. Bundesliga side Hannover, was one of the first players across Europe to test positive for the virus, and Paderborn, who had been due to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night, were waiting on tests results for their players when news came down from the league.

Clubs will meet again on Monday, with the league advising a suspension until April 2.

World Cup qualifiers in Africa were suspended, while European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have stopped their players from training at their facilities for the time being.

As Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba encouraged people to "dab to beat coronavirus" and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp backed the decision to postpone the Premier League, Serie A clubs Sampdoria and Fiorentina reported positive cases involving their players in Italy, one of the worst-affected countries.

The country's major cycling race, the Giro d'Italia, will not begin as scheduled on May 9 as Hungary said it was unwilling to host the first three stages. The whole race was subsequently postponed.

Six Nations contest between Italy and England in Rome, originally slated for Saturday, had already been called off, and the only fixture of the tournament not to be postponed was put back indefinitely on Friday. Wales' clash with Scotland in Cardiff was finally called off the day before it was set to take place, while Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins has also been postponed.

South Africa's ODI tour of India will be rescheduled for another time, the first match having been washed out on Thursday, while the Boston Marathon will now take place on September 14. The new date for the London Marathon is October 4.

Elsewhere, NASCAR has postponed races in Atlanta and Miami over the next two weekends. Those races were initially going to be held without fans. All IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

India's remaining two ODIs against South Africa have been postponed as the spread of coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar across the world.

The first ODI on Thursday was abandoned without a ball being bowled in Dharamsala due to bad weather.

And the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced on Friday the meetings in Lucknow on Sunday and Kolkata on March 18 - both scheduled to be played behind closed doors - will not go ahead as the COVID-19 threat grows.

South Africa will now visit India at a later date to play a three-match series.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed on Friday the IPL, due to get underway on March 29, will now begin on April 15.

There have been more than 80 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India, resulting in one death.

Rugby World Cup winner Francois Louw has announced he will retire at the end of the season following a nine-season spell with Bath.

Louw has enjoyed an illustrious career that has seen him represent Western Province, the Stormers and Bath at club level, while also earning 76 international caps for South Africa.

The 34-year-old brought down the curtain on his Springboks career in November on the back of their World Cup triumph in Japan and is now to call time on his club career.

Louw has made 134 starts in 140 appearances for Bath and told his club's official website: "Bath is a city that we call home now.

"My family and I have settled here, and representing the club so many times has been one of the many highlights of my career.

 

"While this has been an incredibly tough decision to make, the time does feel right to face a new challenge. 

"Right now, however, my focus is with Bath, and I will give everything to the club as our sights are set on making the play-offs and winning further silverware."

Bath's director of rugby Stuart Hooper led the tributes to Louw, who has qualified as a financial advisor ahead of a second career.

"The contribution he has made to our club cannot be overstated," Hooper said.

"I have had the privilege of being by his side as a player and working with him now as director of rugby, and his experience, commitment and world class skill has been a mainstay of Bath for nine seasons. 

"He gives absolutely everything, every single time he pulls on the Bath colours - whether on the training ground or on matchday - and we cannot ever ask for more than that."

The first ODI international between India and South Africa was abandoned without a ball being bowled in Dharamsala.

Both teams suffered the same fate at the same venue six months ago when they were set to meet in a T20I showdown.

The washout means the three-match series will head to Lucknow on Sunday all square.

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