Alaba Says He’s Honored to Take Over Ramos’ Jersey at Madrid

David Alaba. (AFP)
David Alaba. (AFP)
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Alaba Says He’s Honored to Take Over Ramos’ Jersey at Madrid

David Alaba. (AFP)
David Alaba. (AFP)

New Real Madrid signing David Alaba said Wednesday it will be an “honor” to wear Sergio Ramos’ No. 4 jersey at the Spanish club.

Alaba was officially introduced by Madrid after reaching an agreement with the club in May.

“(Ramos has) been here for a decade and became a leader wearing this number,” Alaba said. “That’s a big motivation for me and I want to represent it and honor it. I’ve said that on a few occasions. But I want to repeat that I am not here to compare myself with others. I want to show my strengths and continue to be David Alaba.”

Ramos bid farewell to Madrid last month after spending 16 years at the club. He said he wanted to stay but the club preferred not to renew his contract. He will be playing with Paris Saint-Germain.

Alaba joined Madrid from Bayern Munich, where he played 431 games in 13 years.



UK Apologizes to Families of 97 Liverpool Football Fans Killed in Stadium Crush 34 Years Ago

Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)
Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)
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UK Apologizes to Families of 97 Liverpool Football Fans Killed in Stadium Crush 34 Years Ago

Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)
Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)

The British government apologized Wednesday to the families of 97 Liverpool soccer fans who died after a stadium crush 34 years ago, as it introduced a charter it said will sharply diminish the chances that others will endure the kinds of injustices they suffered.

However, it refused to back calls from campaigners to legally require public bodies, including police, to tell the truth and proactively cooperate with official investigations and inquiries in cases of public disasters.

The so-called Hillsborough disaster happened on April 15, 1989. More than 2,000 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield were allowed to flood into a standing-room section behind a goal with the 54,000-capacity stadium already nearly full for a match against Nottingham Forest.

An original inquest recorded verdicts of accidental death, which the families of the victims refused to accept. Those verdicts were overturned in 2012 after a far-reaching inquiry into the disaster that examined previously secret documents and exposed wrongdoing and mistakes by police. In 2016, a jury found that the victims were "unlawfully killed."

The proposed "Hillsborough Law" would have incorporated a "duty of candor" on public authorities and officials in such cases.

Instead, a "Hillsborough Charter" would see public bodies pledge to tell the truth in the wake of public tragedies whatever the impact on their reputation. The government said it is not aware of any gaps in legislation that would further encourage a culture of candor among public bodies and their representatives.

The new charter comes six years after a report from James Jones, the former bishop of Liverpool, who was commissioned to learn the lessons of the disaster and a subsequent cover-up.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk issued an apology on behalf of the government for the way the families were treated over the decades and for the delay in its response to the report.

"It doesn’t provide closure for the families of course," Chalk said. "Grief is indeed a journey without a destination but today is a milestone on that journey."

Hooliganism was rife in English soccer throughout the 1980s, and there were immediate attempts to assign blame on the Liverpool fans and defend the policing operation. A false narrative that blamed drunken, ticketless and rowdy Liverpool fans was created by police, a narrative that was only turned around by the tireless campaign of the bereaved families.

Organizations that have already signed on to the "Hillsborough Charter" include the National Police Chiefs’ Council, College of Policing and Crown Prosecution Service.

"The Hillsborough families have suffered multiple injustices: The loss of 97 lives, the blaming of the fans and the unforgiveable institutional defensiveness by public bodies," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said. "I am profoundly sorry for what they have been through."


Ronaldo Rested as Al Nassr Top Asian Champions League Group

Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)
Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)
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Ronaldo Rested as Al Nassr Top Asian Champions League Group

Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)
Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)

Al Nassr rested Cristiano Ronaldo and started the majority of their foreign contingent on the bench as they concluded the Asian Champions League group campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Istiklol on Tuesday night.

With progress secured with one matchday to spare, Nassr manager Luis Castro chose to leave Ronaldo out of the squad for the match in Dushanbe, while he named among his substitutes the likes of Sadio Mane, Aymeric Laporte, Otavio and Anderson Talisca.

Istiklol took the lead at the Pamir Stadium just after the half hour when midfielder Alisher Dzhalilov fired a fine low shot into the bottom corner, AFP reported.

The hosts, yet to win in this season’s competition, were hoping for three points to lift them off the bottom of the group.

However, Abdulrahman Ghareeb levelled five minutes into the second half, the Nassr winger converting a close-range volley at the second time of asking following an initial stop from Istiklol goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov.

Castro did send for Talisca, Nassr’s second-top scorer this season behind Ronaldo, in the 74th minute, and Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana and Portugal winger Otavio late on but the visitors could not snatch the win.

Nassr ended the group stage unbeaten, with four victories and two draws.


Messi Named Time's 'Athlete of The Year'

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)
Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)
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Messi Named Time's 'Athlete of The Year'

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)
Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)

Lionel Messi has been named Time magazine's "Athlete of the Year" for 2023 after a trailblazing season marked by an eighth Ballon d'Or award and his ground-breaking move to Major League Soccer's Inter Miami.

Time said the Argentine superstar had already had a transformative impact on the American sporting landscape, which has been historically slow to embrace football.

"Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible, when he signed with Inter Miami: turning the US into a soccer country," Time commented, AFP reported.

The 36-year-old Messi made his debut for Miami in July following an acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi was quoted by Time as saying that his first preference after PSG had been a fairytale return to Barcelona, but that move stalled over the club's finances.


Man United Bars Reporters after Stories about Manager Ten Hag as Problems Mount for Dutchman

Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Manchester United - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - December 2, 2023 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag before the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Manchester United - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - December 2, 2023 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag before the match. (Reuters)
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Man United Bars Reporters after Stories about Manager Ten Hag as Problems Mount for Dutchman

Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Manchester United - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - December 2, 2023 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag before the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Manchester United - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - December 2, 2023 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag before the match. (Reuters)

After reports of player unrest, Manchester United barred journalists from a pre-game news conference with Erik ten Hag on Tuesday as the Dutchman spoke ahead of a latest crunch match for his troubled team.

The United manager had been confronted with stories that his methods had been called into question by sections of the locker room after a 10th defeat of the season against Newcastle last week.

“We’re taking action against a number of news organizations today, not for publishing stories we don’t like, but for doing so without contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualize,” United said in a statement. It did not say how long the ban would last.

The reports claimed there were growing doubts about Ten Hag’s management style as United sit seventh in the Premier League standings and on the brink of Champions League elimination.

But, speaking ahead of Wednesday's game against Chelsea at Old Trafford, the former Ajax coach said his squad remained united.

“You can see you can’t play such great football as we did lately if there is no unity,” Ten Hag said. “We are on a journey, a route, we know we are still in transition, but we are in the right direction.

“You see it how we construct a team, develop it, the team is progressing. How young players (are) coming in and you see the potential how they can contribute to a very successful Manchester United for the future.”

It is the second time in recent weeks United has responded to negative stories about Ten Hag, having last month refuted claims it was considering replacements for the coach.

While there has been no suggestion from the club that his position is in question, reports point to a growing sense of uncertainty as Ten Hag struggles to build on the success of his first season in charge when leading United back to the Champions League and winning the League Cup.

Defeat against Chelsea would raise further doubts about his future, but Ten Hag said he was confident about the team’s progress after winning five out of its last six games in the league before Newcastle.

“Still we are in the ranking. Of course we dropped, but are not too far away so we are OK,” he said.

United turned to Ten Hag after he led Ajax to three Dutch titles and two cups in the space of four seasons.

Since taking over at Old Trafford in July 2022, he has asserted his authority as he has attempted to turn the club's fortunes around.

Cristiano Ronaldo was made to train away from the first team and dropped after heading to the locker room before the final whistle of a match last season. Jadon Sancho is also training away from the first team over a “discipline issue.” The winger claimed on social media that he had been made a “scapegoat” after being cut from United’s squad for its 3-1 loss to Arsenal this season.

On Tuesday Ten Hag suggested he still had the backing of his players.

“Of course there are always, in every team, players who are not playing or less playing who are less happy. That is not different to normal,” he said. “If the players have a different opinion of course I will listen. But they haven’t told me. Or maybe one or two, but it is about in general. The majority, they want to play like this — proactive, dynamic, brave, that is what they want. You can see the players are behind it because of the performances against Everton and Galatasaray. You see that we are really improving.”


Double World Champion Alaphilippe to Begin 2024 at Tour Down Under

Double world champion Julian Alaphilippe will begin his 2024 campaign at the Tour Down Under. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
Double world champion Julian Alaphilippe will begin his 2024 campaign at the Tour Down Under. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
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Double World Champion Alaphilippe to Begin 2024 at Tour Down Under

Double world champion Julian Alaphilippe will begin his 2024 campaign at the Tour Down Under. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
Double world champion Julian Alaphilippe will begin his 2024 campaign at the Tour Down Under. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

Double cycling world champion Julian Alaphilippe will begin his 2024 season at the Tour Down Under next month, event organizers said Tuesday.
A six-time stage winner at the Tour de France, Alaphilippe won back-to-back men's world road race crowns in 2020 and 2021 but has been plagued by injuries since.
"I am very happy to be returning to Australia," said the 31-year-old Alaphilippe, who previously raced the event in 2014 on his professional debut.
The Tour Down Under for men and women will take place in and around Adelaide next month, with the men's race from January 16-21, featuring the brutal Willunga Hill climb twice and finishing on an ascent to Mount Lofty.
"There are many undulating roads and tough climbs throughout various stages of this race," added Alaphilippe, who won the King of the Mountains jersey at the 2018 Tour de France.
"I'm particularly excited to revisit Willunga Hill along with Mount Lofty for the first time," added Alaphilippe, who will be one of the favorites for the race leader's ochre jersey.
The Soudal Quick-Step rider is a one-day race specialist, but he has won two stage races -- the 2016 Tour of California and the 2018 Tour of Britain.
He came agonizingly close to winning the Tour de France in 2019, losing the yellow jersey with just three days to go.
Race director Stuart O'Grady said of the Frenchman: "He is a true champion of our sport, and a born entertainer on a bike. We can't wait for him to race in Australia's greatest cycling race."
Alaphilippe is on the comeback trail after suffering broken ribs and a collapsed lung in a high speed crash in April 2022 and then injuring his knee in a tumble at the Tour of Flanders in March this year.
The women's Tour Down Under takes place from January 12-16.


Football Stars Maldini, Villa Praise Progress of Sports in Saudi Kingdom

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Football Stars Maldini, Villa Praise Progress of Sports in Saudi Kingdom

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

The Saudi people are enthusiastic and passionate about football, according to football stars David Villa from Spain and Paolo Maldini from Italy, SPA reported.
Their remarks came while visiting Jeddah to promote the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup, scheduled to be hosted by the governorate from December 12 to 22.
Maldini indicated that there are numerous significant cultural and sports changes taking place in the Kingdom recently. He stated that the Saudi people are highly enthusiastic about football and are actively contributing to the development of sports in all aspects.
Villa emphasized that the development in sports in the Kingdom is incredibly impressive. He also praised the passion of football fans and their love for the game, stating that this will contribute significantly to the advancement of sports.
Villa noted that the Kingdom showcases football in a magnificent way, not only on a local scale but also on an international level.
"The Saudi league is growing and evolving significantly, and football in the Kingdom, in general, is progressing. There is strength in increasing its popularity. Football, in general, must advance and evolve in any championship and country where its fans desire progress. This is very important for the Kingdom, and it is also crucial to have a tournament like the FIFA Club World Cup hosted here," the Spanish star said.


Riyadh Motor Show to Start Within Activities of Riyadh Season 2023

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Riyadh Motor Show to Start Within Activities of Riyadh Season 2023

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

The Riyadh Motor Show will start on Tuesday, as part of the activities of the Riyadh Season 2023, an event that gathers many international companies and renowned vehicle brands to join the most prominent and best upcoming event for the automotive year in the Kingdom, where vehicle brands reveal their latest models and new concepts, or launch new production vehicle from well-known models in the world.

The Kingdom Arena will host the Riyadh Motor Show from December 5 to 9 and it will witness the launch of more than 30 new vehicles that will be unveiled for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, SPA reported.

The Riyadh Motor Show is expected to attract visitors from the Kingdom and abroad. The motor show also will shed the light on the automobile industry and its future, and will offer companies an opportunity to communicate and introduce them, making it one of the best motor shows to demonstrate prominence in this field.

This year, Motor Show spotlights participants in environmentally friendly and low-emission vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen vehicles, which truly represent the future of the world’s automotive industry in the next years, especially with regard to reducing emissions and sustainable development to preserve the environment.


Djokovic Finishes at No. 1 in ATP Rankings for Record-Extending Eighth Time

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
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Djokovic Finishes at No. 1 in ATP Rankings for Record-Extending Eighth Time

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)

Novak Djokovic earned the year-end No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for the eighth time on Monday, adding to a record he already held.

Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian Open in January, French Open in June and US Open in September — to raise his career total to a men's-record 24 and was the runner-up at the other, Wimbledon. He went 56-7 this season while leading the tour with seven titles, including at the ATP Finals last month.

The 36-year-old from Serbia regained the top ranking from Carlos Alcaraz, who edged him in a five-set final at the All England Club in July.

Alcaraz finished 2023 at No. 2 after the two men swapped No. 1 back-and-forth repeatedly this year.

Iga Swiatek claimed the WTA's year-end No. 1 ranking for the second consecutive year by winning the WTA Finals last month. Swiatek, who won her fourth career major championship at the French Open, overtook Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion and runner-up to Coco Gauff at the US Open. Gauff finished at No. 3, followed by Elena Rybakina at No. 4 and Jessica Pegula at No. 5.

Djokovic eclipsed his own mark for the oldest player to top the ATP at the end of a season; he was 34 in 2021.

His eight year-end No. 1s put him two ahead of previous record-holder Pete Sampras, who did it six times. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal each finished at No. 1 five times, as did Jimmy Connors.

Daniil Medvedev closed 2023 at No. 3, followed by Jannik Sinner at a career-best No. 4, Andrey Rublev at No. 5, Stefanos Tsitsipas at No. 6, Alexander Zverev at No. 7, Holger Rune at No. 8, Hubert Hurkacz at No. 9 and Taylor Fritz at No. 10.

Alcaraz and Rune are both 20, marking the first time two men that young both ended a season in the top 10 since 2000, when Marat Safin, 20, was No. 2, and Lleyton Hewitt, 19, was No. 7.

There are three 19-year-olds in the top 100: No. 36 Arthur Fils, No. 71 Luca Van Assche and No. 97 Alex Michelson, an American who jumped up 504 spots after ending last year at No. 601.

The United States is the country with the most men in the top 20, four: Fritz, No. 13 Tommy Paul, No. 16 Frances Tiafoe and No. 17 Ben Shelton.


‘No Plan B' for Paris Opening Ceremony after Knife Attack

This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
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‘No Plan B' for Paris Opening Ceremony after Knife Attack

This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

There is no "plan B" for the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Summer Games, the French sports minister said on Monday, after a man armed with a knife and hammer killed a German tourist and left two people wounded near the Eiffel Tower on Saturday.
"We have no plan B, we have a plan in which there are several sub-plans with a certain number of adjustment variables," Amelie Oudea-Castera told France Inter radio.
The 26-year-old suspect, a French national arrested after the attack, had pledged allegiance to ISIS in a video recorded beforehand, anti-terrorism Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said on Sunday.
The attack occurred on the Quai de Grenelle - a spot also included in the plans for the opening ceremony.
Asked if the government was mulling a change to its plan to hold the ceremony on the River Seine, with several hundred thousand spectators expected along its banks amid the security threats, the minister said: "This not something we're working with."
"We have the capacity to secure the event", she said, adding that certain details, including the number of additional cultural events surrounding the main spectacle and said the security perimeter would be adjusted closer to the Games.


Boks Rule Again in Season-opening Dubai Sevens

General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo
General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo
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Boks Rule Again in Season-opening Dubai Sevens

General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo
General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

South Africa notched up their fifth consecutive title at the season-opening Dubai sevens tournament with a pulsating victory over Argentina on Sunday.

The Blitzboks beat Los Pumas 12-7 in the final of the first event of the new-look, eight-leg World Rugby SVNS Series.

The series moves on to Cape Town next weekend, with the third leg slated for Perth, Australia, at the end of January, AFP reported.

Action then moves Stateside to legs in Vancouver and Los Angeles before Asian stops in Singapore and Hong Kong ahead of the May 31-June 2 finals in Madrid.

The South African team overcame Australia 24-7 in the quarter-finals and Fiji 14-7 in the semis before taking on Argentina.

Los Pumas came from behind to beat Samoa 21-14 in the quarters and New Zealand 21-19 in a last-four clash to reach their first-ever final in Dubai.

Tries from Impi Visser and Shilton van Wyk, with a Justin Geduld conversion, handed the Boks a 12-0 half-time lead.

Argentina made the most of Ryan Oosthuizen being sent to the sin bin through a try by Matias Osadczuk converted by Santiago Mare.

But the Boks held on for another Dubai title in a season where the ultimate aim will be to dethrone Fiji as Olympic champions at the Paris 2024 Games.

"We had a very good pre-season and the guys showed that they were ready to play six tough matches," South Africa coach Philip Snyman said.

"The way they worked, based on defence, also showed their willingness to work off the ball and cover each other’s backs and that is a wonderful thing for coaches to see."

New Zealand claimed third spot with a victory over Fiji.

The women's title went the way of Australia for a fourth consecutive time.

Teagan Levi touched down either side of halftime as the Australians ended New Zealand’s 41-match winning streak in a 21-14 victory.

Skipper Charlotte Caslick said Levi had been "unbelievable".

"She’s had an amazing pre-season and we’re all getting to see the hard work she’s done this year."

A first-half hat-trick from Yolaine Yengo allied with a Lou Noel try helped France to third place with a 26-5 win over Canada.