The Independent

Sport news in brief


Hunt back in England squad for Six Nations

Gloucester-Hartpury scrum-half Natasha Hunt has returned to the England squad for the Women’s Six Nations. Hunt was left out of the World Cup squad last September and said she was “heartbroke­n” by the omission. Simon Middleton’s team went on to lose to hosts New Zealand in the final to end their world record 30-match winning run.

However, Hunt’s fantastic form in the Premier 15s this season has earned her a way back into the internatio­nal set-up. Among her impressive statistics are 19 try assists in just 12 games. There

are also returns for back row Sarah Beckett, prop Bryony Cleall and centre Amber Reed, who all also missed out on a World Cup spot.

Elsewhere in the 42-player training squad, Holly Aitchison is named and could start as fly-half after Zoe Harrison was ruled out with an ACL injury. Sarah Hunter will co-captain the team alongside Marlie Packer with regular vice-captain Emily Scarratt out with injury. Lock Abbie Ward is also not included in the squad after announcing her pregnancy at the start of the year. Scarratt and Ward will be present throughout the tournament in the squad though to support with coaching.

Middleton, who is entering his final tournament as head coach with the RFU set to name his replacemen­t in the coming weeks, has also named nine uncapped players. England begin their title defence against Scotland on 25 March. PA

Fifa criticised for ‘tone deaf’ appointmen­t of supermodel

Fifa’s appointmen­t of supermodel Adriana Lima as its global fan ambassador five months before the Women’s World Cup has been criticised as “tone deaf” by the former Fifa council member Moya Dodd. Fifa said the Brazilian Lima will “develop, promote and participat­e in global initiative­s” before this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but Dodd, a former internatio­nal player for the Matildas, says it sends the wrong message to players and fans.

“When a girl plays football, the world sees her differentl­y," Dodd, who was one of the first women to serve on the Fifa council, said in a post on LinkedIn on Wednesday. “Instead of being compliment­ed on her nice looks or her pretty dress, she is valued for her game-saving tackles and brilliant goalscorin­g. She’s admired for what she can do, rather than how she looks, putting her on a more equal footing with her brothers in a way that can alter the whole trajectory of her life’s ambitions.

“In a Fifa World Cup year, that’s the message that should be ringing loud and true around the world. Where a supermodel fits

into this is truly baffling.”

Barcelona win at Real Madrid to take control of cup tie

A tenacious Barcelona frustrated Real Madrid to secure a 1-0 win over their bitter rivals in an ill-tempered Copa del Rey semi-final first leg last night. The visitors defended superbly after Real centre back Eder Militao scored an own goal in the first half.

Barcelona’s winner arrived in the 26th minute when Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga gifted a back pass to Ferran Torres who reacted quickly to slide the ball to Franck Kessie. His point-blank strike was saved but bounced off Militao and into the net.

The assistant referee signalled offside but the VAR replay showed Kessie was fractional­ly onside and the goal stood. The teams meet again in Barcelona on 5 April with the winners to face Athletic Bilbao or Osasuna in the final. Reuters

Rashid: I wasn’t pressured to support Vaughan racism allegation

Adil Rashid said he was never pressured by Azeem Rafiq into supporting allegation­s that Michael Vaughan made racist comments during their time at Yorkshire. Day two of the public Cricket Discipline Commission in London got underway yesterday with the case of former England captain Vaughan after a short private section in the morning.

Vaughan has been charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board due to allegation­s he said “there’s too many of you lot” during a T20 match for Yorkshire in 2009 towards team-mates Rafiq, Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved ul-Hasan. England bowler Rashid dialled into the disciplina­ry hearing from Bangladesh, where he is involved in the ongoing ODI series, on a video link and was cross-examined by Vaughan’s lawyer Christophe­r Stoner KC, who repeatedly asked the spinner about whether he had been pressured into supporting Rafiq’s claims.

In an interview with the ECB which was shown at the hearing, Rashid’s “close friend” Shahzad said he thought Rashid was being pressurise­d. But Rashid, during more than an hour in front of the CDC panel, insisted: “No, no. Like I said before I wasn’t pressured by Azeem.” Asked if Dobell had pressured him, Rashid said: “No, I was not pressured.” Vaughan is one of seven individual­s charged by the ECB but is the only one expected to attend the CDC hearing and has denied the allegation­s. PA

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 ?? (PA) ?? Natasha Hunt is back in the Eng l and squad after missing out on the Wor l d Cup
(PA) Natasha Hunt is back in the Eng l and squad after missing out on the Wor l d Cup
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