Pumas dream of finally overcoming mighty All Blacks

New Zealand can retain the title with a win ahead of their final test in South Africa next week.

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They have 19 points to 11 for the Springboks, 8 for Australia and none for Argentina.

The Pumas today are a side admired by New Zealand as they have acquired an impressive attacking game but the risks they take in going forward are exploited by their southern hemisphere rivals as they tire in the latter stages of a test.

“I think fatigue is what leads to our performance diminishing a bit and our game becoming a bit disorganised,” lock Marcos Kremer told Reuters.

“We need to stick to our game system to the last minute, which is what I think we don’t do, because 10 to 15 minutes from the end we start to lose it and the result escapes us.”

Argentina led New Zealand 16-15 at halftime and by seven points after 50 minutes in their previous meeting in New Plymouth on Sept. 9 before conceding three converted second half tries in the final half hour and going down 39-22.

Prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro said an important part of Argentina’s training this week has been on always having a man marking an All Blacks opposite.

“We’ve been focusing on defence, on having one against one because we believe that will be key,” he said.

Faced with defending an unbeaten record in 25 tests against the Pumas, New Zealand are not taking the match lightly knowing that Argentina have beaten South Africa twice and Australia once in their five previous seasons in the tournament.

“It’s all part of being involved in the All Blacks, there’s a legacy we’ve got to look up to and we’re playing a team that’s a very proud rugby nation in their own right,” assistant coach Ian Foster told reporters.

“They’ve had some great victories over nearly every other team and I guess they are passionate about trying to beat us.

“We don’t go out there with the fear of having to defend that (unbeaten record), it’s more the excitement of us playing as good as we can and that’s our goal on Saturday.”

(Additional reporting by Miguel Lobianco; Reporting by Rex Gowar, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

IS chief urges jihadists to ‘resist’ in apparent recording after reports of his death

The audio, partly dedicated to religious scriptures, came after several reports Baghdadi had been killed.

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His last recording was in November 2016, two weeks after the start of the battle to recapture the city of Mosul from IS.

The date of the 46-minute recording released via the Al-Furqan news organisation was not clear.

But in it, Baghdadi makes an apparent reference to recent events including North Korean threats against Japan and United States and the recapture two months ago of Mosul by United States-backed Iraqi forces. 

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Since Baghdadi proclaimed the caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria in 2014, Iraqi forces have retaken a string of cities in western and northern Iraq including Mosul, where he made his announcement from the city’s El Nuri mosque. 

Western-backed Syrian forces are also thrusting into the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, Islamic State’s operational headquarters from where it plotted many of the attacks that have killed hundreds of people around the world. 

“Beware of retreat, or the feeling of defeat, beware of negotiations or surrender. Do not lay down your arms,” Baghdadi said, referring to followers in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Africa and elsewhere in Africa. 

“Oh Soldiers of the Caliphate, fan the flames of war on your enemies, take it to them and besiege them in every corner, and stand fast and courageous.” 

Baghdadi also referenced Western media, saying: “Oh soldiers of Islam in every location, increase blow after blow, and make the media centres of the infidels, and where they wage their intellectual wars, among your targets.”

Fall of Mosul

The fall of Mosul in July effectively marked the end of the Iraqi half of Baghdadi’s “caliphate” even though Islamic State continues to fight in some territory outside of Mosul, the largest city they came to control in both Iraq and Syria. 

An IS branch in Libya was also defeated last year in the city of Sirte, where they had set up a North African beachhead in 2014. In Egypt’s northern Sinai, another affiliated militant group is still fighting Egyptian military forces. 

“With God’s will and his strength, we are staying determined, patient…The abundance of killing will not stop us,” Baghdadi said in the audio recording.

Officials have said they believed it could take years to capture or kill Baghdadi as he is thought to be hiding in a vast swathe of sparsely-populated desert between Mosul and Raqqa, where attacking drones are easy to spot. 

The US has offered a $25 million bounty for information that would locate Baghdadi.

Russia’s defence ministry said earlier this year it might have killed Baghdadi in an air strike on a gathering of IS commanders on the outskirts of Raqqa.

But US officials said they could not corroborate the death and other Western as well as Iraqi officials were sceptical. 

South Africa’s Markram upbeat after run out denies him debut ton

“I’m more than happy to take it,” he said at stumps of his innings of 97, with South Africa on 298 for one at Senwes Park.

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“Had you asked me if I would take 97 last night I would have taken it with open arms, I’m more than happy with the 97.”

The 22-year-old Markram appeared to be heading for a dream start to his test career before he was caught out of his crease, backing up too quickly as he attempted to help opening partner Dean Elgar to reach a century. Elgar was on 99 and looking for a quick single to get to three figures but, after a moment’s hesitation, he decided against a run, leaving Markram halfway up the crease and scrambling unsuccessfully to get back to safety.

The pair put on a 196-run opening partnership as they took advantage of a batsman-friendly track.

“I’ve never really looked at the game from a selfish perspective,” Markram told reporters.

“I think I wanted it so badly for him (Elgar) that I got caught in no-man’s land. It’s part of the game, you have to take it on the chin and move on. He was extremely upset. Dean and I have come a long way, we’ve developed a good friendship as well.

“It was tough for him, a bitter pill to swallow. I told him at tea that he needs to kick on for the team’s sake. That is all that matters. He has put himself in a great position to do so.”

On Friday Elgar will resume on the second day at 128 not out, along with Hashim Amla who has 68.

“You have to take your hat off to the innings that Dean played. I’m incredibly happy for him for scoring another hundred,” Markram added.

“Knowing the kind of person he is, he really would like to kick on tomorrow. He has a very hard personality, he is a proper fighter as we have all seen.”

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Auckland to stage 2021 America’s Cup

Team New Zealand have vowed to restore America’s Cup traditions that have been lost when they stage the next event in Auckland in 2021.

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Protocols for the 36th regatta were unveiled by the holders in Auckland on Friday, with a date of early 2021 cemented into place along with a return to monohull racing.

Auckland will be host city as long as infrastructure can be guaranteed and built before early 2019, when the first pre-regatta is planned.

Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton was delighted to have agreed protocol details formulated so quickly following negotiations with the challenger of record, Italian syndicate Luna Rossa.

He said both parties were adamant former holders Team USA had steered the 166-year-old event too far from its traditional roots and priced the event beyond the reach of several challengers.

It is three months since the Kiwi syndicate lifted the Auld Mug off Team USA in Bermuda. But Dalton’s determination to honour the original Deed of Gift hasn’t waned as he launched into criticism of what he says was a self-centred American reign from 2010-17.

“This a collective attempt to create a competitive environment but not a biased one,” Dalton said.

“An America’s Cup where challengers feel they will be treated totally fairly and the rules will be transparent to the public.”

The two previous regattas in San Francisco employed high-speed catamarans.

Dalton said the 75-foot monohull boats would still have room for innovation and could even have foiling capability.

Drawings and concept images of the boat will be released on November 30 and the design rules unveiled on March 31 next year.

That will give syndicates about a year to design and build the two boats allowed.

The sailor nationality rule will require 20 per cent of sailors to be citizens of each team’s country.

The rest of the crew must meet a residency requirement. They must reside in the their team’s country for at least a 380-day period from September 1, 2018 to September 1, 2020.

“It’s not an attempt to stop yachtsmen earning a living,” Dalton said.

“But it’s an attempt to make a country firstly look at its own before it looks offshore.”

America’s Cup could move to Italy if Auckland not ready

They took international sport’s oldest trophy off Oracle Team USA with a stunning 7-1 victory in Bermuda’s Great Sound in June in a regatta raced in high-powered foiling catamarans.

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TNZ boss Grant Dalton released the protocol, or rules, for the 36th America’s Cup at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Friday. They had been written in consultation with the official Challengers, Italian syndicate Luna Rosa.

Dalton said the date was yet to be confirmed and they had not signed a host city agreement as Auckland still had no infrastructure for the America’s Cup base and they needed to start construction by the middle of 2018 for a 2021 regatta.

“The intention is to hold the Cup in 2021,” Dalton told reporters at a media conference. “At this stage no infrastructure exists to hold it by that date.

“We (New Zealand) have just come out of an election but there has been some planning going on. Infrastructure needs to be started by mid-2018.”

Dalton added that if Auckland was unable to complete preparations in time, the regatta would be moved to Italy, but it was not a warning shot to the government.

“We need to give certainties to teams,” he said.

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Dalton, who had already signalled his desire for a nationality clause, said each crew of 10-12 sailors must be contain at least 20 percent from the challenging country.

The rest of the team must have established residency criteria, which Dalton said was determined by being resident in the country for 380 days between Sept. 1 2018 and Sept. 1 2020.

“The most significant America’s Cup in my time was when Australia 2 beat Liberty in Newport, Rhode Island in 1983,” Dalton added. “It was country versus country.

“Countries need to be encouraged to grow their own talent. It’s not an attempt to stop yachtsmen make a living but for a country to look at its own first before they go overseas.”

The specifications for the new boats would be released on Nov. 30.

Dalton added that each syndicate could build two boats and there would be pre-regattas in 2019 and 2020. Contrary to what he told Italian media two weeks ago, he said there was still the possibility for ‘cyclors’ to be used.

TNZ used ‘cyclors’, grinders who sat on upright bike stations and used their legs rather than arms to generate the hydraulic power needed to sail the foiling catamarans, in their successful challenge.

Last week he was quoted as telling La Stampa that “grinders will return”, indicating the cyclors would not feature, but said on Friday the rules did not preclude them.

Races for the next regatta were likely to be “longer than Bermuda”, which were typically about 20 minutes, but Dalton said they would be less than an hour.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ken Ferris)