1. Lions confirm 2021 fixtures in South Africa 

The British & Irish Lions will play a total eight matches on their tour of South Africa in 2021. 

Coached by Warren Gatland, the Lions will have five warm-up games before the three-Test series against the 2019 Rugby World Cup winners.  

The first Test against the Springboks on 24 July is set to be played in front of a record crowd of almost 90,000 at Soccer City in Soweto, Johannesburg.

Former Wales head coach Gatland, who takes charge of his third successive Lions tour, said of the schedule: “I am absolutely thrilled. Ensuring the team are absolutely primed for the Test matches is a critical element of any Lions Tour.

“I am confident the quality of opposition we will face in the opening weeks will get us ready to take on the Springboks.”

British & Irish Lions 2021 tour of South Africa
  • 3 July: vs. DHL Stormers (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)  
  • 7 July: vs. South Africa Invitational (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth)  
  • 10 July: vs. Cell C Sharks (Jonsson Kings Park, Durban)  
  • 14 July: vs. South Africa A (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)  
  • 17 July: vs. Vodacom Bulls (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)  
  • 24 July: 1st Test vs. Springboks (Soccer City, Johannesburg)  
  • 31 July: 2nd Test vs. Springboks (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)  
  • 7 August: 3rd Test vs. Springboks (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)

2. Folau case settled 

The BBC reports that Israel Folau and Rugby Australia (RA) have reached a settlement over his controversial sacking for writing anti-gay posts on social media. Former Wallabies star Folau had been suing RA following the termination of his contract, but the parties have settled for a confidential amount. 

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3. Feds or tails?

Tennis icon Roger Federer will become the first living person to feature on a Swiss coin. Swissmint has announced that the 20-time grand slam champion will be honoured with a 20-franc silver coin, to be issued from 23 January 2020. Then in May there are also plans to issue a Federer 50-franc gold coin.

4. Patel appointed as England spin consultant

Jeetan Patel has been appointed as England’s spin bowling consultant for the tours of South Africa and Sri Lanka. The 39-year-old New Zealander is retiring and will play his final match for Cricket Wellington on 18 December. He will then join up with England on 24 December in Centurion ahead of the first Test at Supersport Park starting on Boxing Day against South Africa.

5. Silva ready for ‘special’ Merseyside derby 

Premier League leaders Liverpool take on rivals Everton tonight in the Merseyside derby at Anfield (8.15pm, live on Amazon Prime). 

While Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are enjoying life at the top of the table, Blues boss Marco Silva is battling to save his job. 

Speaking ahead of the derby he urged his Everton players to embrace the challenge and win at Anfield for the first time since 1999.

“We have to look at the game as a good opportunity and do something the club did not do for 20 years,” said Silva. 

“OK, it is a tough game. They are in a very, very good moment and maybe they are the toughest opponent we can face. You can look at it this way or the other way: it is a good opportunity for us in a special game.”

In tonight’s other games Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford with his Tottenham side as they face his former club Manchester United. 

Wednesday 4 December fixtures 
  • Chelsea vs. Aston Villa (7.30pm, live on Amazon Prime Video)  
  • Leicester City vs. Watford (7.30pm, live on Amazon Prime Video)  
  • Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur (7.30pm, live on Amazon Prime Video) 
  • Southampton vs. Norwich City (7.30pm, live on Amazon Prime Video)  
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. West Ham United (7.30pm, live on Amazon Prime Video) 
  • Liverpool vs. Everton (8.15pm, live on Amazon Prime Video)

Andy Ruiz Jr vs. Anthony Joshua II: the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts are on the line in Saudi Arabia

6. Joshua warns Ruiz: I’ll take his head off

Anthony Joshua has warned world champion Andy Ruiz Jr that he wants his belts back and will “take his head off” in their rematch on Saturday. 

Ruiz Jr stunned Joshua in New York in June and the heavyweights will go head-to-head again this weekend in Saudi Arabia. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, British challenger Joshua said: “I haven’t had them [the belts] around me for the past six months so yes, I would definitely take them to see what I’m about to have in my possession. I would shake his hand, we’re going to fight anyway. Sportsmanship… but come that first bell, I’ll take his head off.”

Andy Ruiz Jr vs. Anthony Joshua II: fight guide and predictions

Where to watch Ruiz Jr vs. Joshua: official screenings, pubs and bars 

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7. Palmer: Verstappen is my driver of the year

Lewis Hamilton may have won his sixth Formula 1 world title in 2019 but Jolyon Palmer has picked Max Verstappen as his driver of the year.

In his BBC column, former Renault driver Palmer said: “In terms of choosing the best driver of the season, Hamilton and Verstappen were practically inseparable. Hamilton won the championship, but if I had to pick just one of them, I’d say Verstappen just edged it.

“Three race wins, extremely few mistakes and being a constant thorn in the sides of Ferrari and Mercedes shows how good Verstappen has been.”

8. Panthers part ways with Rivera

NFL side Carolina Panthers have sacked head coach Ron Rivera following a four-game losing streak. “I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” said Panthers owner David Tepper. “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community.” Perry Fewell has been named interim head coach.

9. Arsenal ready to swap Bellerin for Demiral

With Arsenal’s defence a national laughing stock, the Gunners are intent on bringing in some back four reinforcements next month and top of the list is Juventus stopper Merih Demiral. According to reports, Arsenal will offer Hector Bellerin as part of any deal with the Spanish right back now considered surplus to requirements at the Emirates.

10. Man City hit four at Turf Moor

Manchester City are back up to second in the Premier League table after beating Burnley 4-1 last night. 

Pep Guardiola’s two-time defending champions have resurrected their title bid with the win at Turf Moor. However, they still trail league leaders Liverpool by eight points. 

Striker Gabriel Jesus scored twice before Rodri and Riyad Mahrez sealed the points. Burnley scored an 89th-minute consolation through Robbie Brady.

Today’s back pages

Jesus beats Pope as Man City resurrect Premier League title bid

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