Former Strictly Come Dancing star Rachel Riley has claimed that the BBC1 dance show is fixed, saying that bosses know from the start who they want to win. The Countdown star, 36, competed in the celebrity dance competition in 2013 and was voted out in the fifth round. But Rachel found love with her partner Pasha Kovalev, 42, who she started dating after filming ended and she had split from her first husband, Jamie Gilbert. Rachel told The Sunday Times Magazine of Strictly: “I think they know from the start who they want to win and what journeys they want to take different people on, to have the right balance, and they can obviously fix the scores.” Rachel went on to say that the show was “very produced” and that the BBC viewing public want celeb contestants who have no ballroom dancing experience, rather than those with extensive training. The Countdown star, 36, competed in the celebrity dance competition in 2013 ( Image: PA) She added: “I think Brits want an … [Read more...] about Ex-Strictly star Rachel Riley claims show is ‘fixed’ and BBC bosses ‘know winner at start’
What struck me about the weekend's Champions Cup semi-finals was the way in which the styles of Leinster and the three French sides that contested the Champions Cup semi-finals are redolent of their national teams. It suggests that there is unity of purpose between country and clubs and that makes the transition from one to the other smoother and quicker. When you look at England and the English Premiership there is little or no communality and has not been since the ‘Saracens-style’ that came because so many of their players were first choice internationals. Does this matter? Not necessarily if both are flourishing but in the case of England it does show that their players are having to alter their accustomed styles to fit in with different systems and philosophies. This takes time and is not a certainty – has Eddie Jones got that time before the World Cup? It must be open to doubt. It did not take the wisdom of Solomon to identify Leinster as the team to beat in the European … [Read more...] about French and Irish clubs have a national identity that the English lack
For the average voter, one question and one question only will decide their response to the Queen’s speech : what does it do about the cost of living crisis? The economy is the battleground on which most general elections are fought, and 2024 will be no exception, giving the Government just two years to convince people they are better off under the Tories. The problem for Boris Johnson is that world events, most notably the war in Ukraine, have ruined even the best-laid economic plans , leaving little room for manoeuvre. While Mr Johnson promises in his introduction to the 140-page Queen’s Speech document that the Government will “continue doing whatever we can to ease the burdens people are grappling with”, it is laced with caveats. The economic shocks of Covid and Ukraine mean: “No country is immune and no government can realistically shield everyone from the impact.” Mr Johnson’s strategy is to be brutally honest with voters, in the hope that by setting out the … [Read more...] about Boris Johnson has good ideas – the danger is that Labour’s vision appeals more
During a Premiership weekend in which two sides secured their play-off places and we saw a couple of compelling thrillers , there were a number of superb individual performances. Who stood out, then? 15. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints) Freeman suffered an iffy moment under the high ball that led to Ben Spencer’s second try for Bath. Outside of that, he was assured and dangerous. A powerful finish spurred Saints to a crazy comeback and exhibited his dynamism and balance. Huw Jones deserves credit for his display at The Stoop , which represented a strong response following some struggles against Montpellier. 14. Toby Fricker (Bristol Bears) This spot might have gone to Louis Rees-Zammit had Gloucester held on and Louis Lynagh inspired Harlequins to victory over Leicester Tigers with a number of scurrying, evasive runs. Fricker is still a worthy winner. Busy and tough, he scored two of Bristol’s tries and had a hand in another, flicking a slick pass on to Steven Luatua in … [Read more...] about Premiership team of the weekend: How many Saracens players make our XV?
Premiership Rugby chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor insists a loss of star power and a weaker English challenge in Europe are a necessary price to pay to make the league more sustainable. Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks are the Premiership’s remaining representatives in the Champions Cup and both are listed as underdogs for their respective quarter-finals against Leinster and Racing 92 this weekend. English clubs have won four of the past six tournaments but with the salary cap coming down to £5 million this season they now figure among the poorer relations in Europe. A leading agent told Telegraph Sport that even Italian outfit Treviso possess a bigger playing budget than the Premiership’s top spenders. With clubs being forced to make substantial savings with the cap coming down by £1.4m , a host of big names including Taulupe Faletau, Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager are leaving the Premiership this summer. However, with Premiership clubs collectively losing an estimated … [Read more...] about Exclusive: Premiership chief admits salary cap could damage English hopes in Europe
In the current age where jackallers are worth their weight in gold, perhaps the highest compliment you can pay to those tasked with winning turnovers for their side is that, with the very best of them, you can see the jackal coming before it happens. Jack Willis, the Wasps flanker, of course fits the bill here. London Irish's astonishing comeback on Sunday overshadowed the fact that with two minutes left on the clock in Brentford, and with Wasps having a proper wobble having watched a 39-14 lead almost entirely evaporate, Willis pounced for one of his customary turnovers on London Irish's Matt Rogerson to win his side a kickable penalty (which you can see below). The moment he lines up an isolated Rogerson, you know what's coming next. Jacob Umaga knocked over three points and that should have been that, at least it would have been had Wasps not been playing against the Gallagher Premiership's number-one escape artists. Back to Willis, given a crocodile roll performed on him as … [Read more...] about Day of the jackaller: The Premiership’s defensive breakdown masters – ranked
Back in 2020, after Saracens’ 25-17 victory over Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-final , scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth suggested that their quality would survive the salary-cap scandal. “We are not looking for any sympathy,” he said. “But perhaps it will prove that what we built is true and special.” Wigglesworth has moved on these days. He is a player-coach at Leicester Tigers and took on Leinster in another quarter-final on Saturday . On another tough weekend for Premiership clubs in European competition, his words from two years ago felt pertinent. Since he uttered them, Saracens have bounced back from the Championship into the top flight. Over recent weeks, they have looked ominously potent as opportunities for silverware approach. They and Wasps are the only English sides that remain in the Challenge Cup, with the exits of Sale Sharks and Tigers making it two consecutive seasons without Premiership representation in the last four of the Champions Cup. Mark … [Read more...] about Inside Line: Clinical Saracens show their class – but what about the rest of the Premiership?
Toulon 25-16 Saracens A blockbuster performance from Gabin Villière sent Toulon past Saracens to continue this heady season of French success by setting up a Challenge Cup final against Lyon. The 26-year-old, a star of Les Bleus’ Grand Slam, is a remarkably resourceful player – a hugely effective hybrid capable of influencing in numerous facets. Indeed, to label him by his position, wing, would be restrictive. He scored two of Toulon’s three tries, thanks to his slippery pace, and caused havoc at the breakdown with tenacious and intelligent scavenging. On a crackling, somewhat nostalgic, evening at the Stade Mayol, the last Premiership side left in Europe was beaten. Despite falling behind early on, Saracens had carved out a 13-6 advantage thanks to an opportunistic finish from Ben Earl after Owen Farrell’s penalty had kissed the post. But they were also bettered by the imposing physicality of Toulon, with Springboks totem Eben Etzebeth to the fore, and some canny kicking from … [Read more...] about Gabin Villiere stars as Toulon masterclass sees off Saracens to book Challenge Cup final spot
This is the very furnace of French pride in which, if Eddie Jones is to be believed, every doubt and gripe about his methods will be gloriously purged in 19 months’ time. Nothing, you suspect, would give him greater satisfaction than to ridicule his detractors with a World Cup triumph and then escape, as he has always promised, to a Caribbean beach to practise his off-spin. Except this ultimate vindication has never looked so remote. On an intoxicating night here in Paris, as France fed off the fervour of their restless supporters to deliver a first Grand Slam since 2010 , England carried the sorrowful air of spare parts at a wedding. They understood, with a third-place finish sewn up at kick-off, that their sole task was to patch up their wounded self-esteem and restore some fragile hope. It is worth highlighting small mercies: England at least conjured a try, only their second in three Tests, thanks to a delicious piece of skill by Freddie Steward in wrong-footing Romain … [Read more...] about Eddie Jones must now justify why he deserves the job – England look nothing like world beaters
In pictures: Tottenham v Burnley Sign up HERE for the latest MUFC breaking news and transfer updates SUBSCRIBE Invalid email We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info Tottenham have pledged to help the police after three Burnley fans were arrested following discriminatory gestures at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. Spurs went head-to-head with the Clarets in north London, with the hosts coming out on top to keep their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish well and truly alive. Related articles 5 things we learned as Tottenham beat Burnley to pressure Arsenal Tottenham boss Antonio Conte gives verdict on contentious penalty Tottenham initially reported that two fans had been arrested following the incident. “The … [Read more...] about Tottenham pledge to help police as three Burnley fans arrested for discriminatory gestures