Sam Powell: New Warrington Wolves signing leaves behind home comforts at Wigan Warriors for next chapter


Sam Powell is embarking on a new start with Warrington in 2024

It had almost got to a point where it was difficult to imagine Sam Powell wearing anything other than a Wigan Warriors shirt in the Betfred Super League, let alone pulling on the colours of one of their most bitter rivals.

Yet that will be the case from next season after the hooker agreed the short move down the M6 to Warrington Wolves, bringing to a close 15 years at his hometown club which began with him joining Wigan’s academy as a 16-year-old and ended with October’s Grand Final triumph.

Loan spells with South Wales Scorpions and Workington Town in the early days of his professional career aside, Powell has known little else but the Warriors during a career which has seen him rack up 273 appearances in all competition for the club, plus be part of two Grand Final wins.

Yet the desire to move on after an at-times challenging 2023 campaign which included being sidelined for eight weeks with a shoulder injury and the opportunity to work under rugby league icon Sam Burgess as Powell considers his career beyond playing saw him decide to swap the cherry and white for the primrose and blue.

“I’ve never been closed-minded to think I was going to spend my whole career at Wigan,” Powell said. “The way it was going, it probably looked like that, but it’s professional sport at the end of the day and it comes down to a matter of things.

“I look back at my Wigan career now with my wife and my kids, and I’ve got nothing but great memories. They were good times, but I haven’t got long left in the game so I just want to enjoy myself here and give my input where I can.

“I look at it as a massive positive because I want to coach after I finish playing. I’ve got a chance to work under Sam and see how he does things, and I’ve been under four quality coaches, so the more the merrier.”

We take a look back on Wigan Warriors' route to their first Betfred Super League title since 2018.

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We take a look back on Wigan Warriors’ route to their first Betfred Super League title since 2018.

We take a look back on Wigan Warriors’ route to their first Betfred Super League title since 2018.

Powell already has some coaching experience under his belt after spending time working with Wigan’s youngsters over the past two seasons, and he intends to speak to Warrington director of rugby Gary Chambers to pursue the same opportunity with his new club.

The lessons from his former Warriors bosses Michael Maguire, Shaun Wane, Adrian Lam and Matt Peet have stood the 31-year-old in good stead and Powell is eager to keep gathering as much practical knowledge as possible for when the time eventually comes to hang up his boots.

“First of all, it’s what I see myself doing after the game, so I don’t see the point in waiting until after I’ve finished playing to gain that experience,” Powell, who has found his coaching work so far to be rewarding as well, said.

“Just looking at lads when they came in from signing as scholarship players, they make such a change in two years, and you can have a big influence on people in whether they want to choose rugby league or it’s not for them.

I look back at my Wigan career now with my wife and my kids, and I’ve got nothing but great memories. They were good times, but I haven’t got long left in the game so I just want to enjoy myself here and give my input where I can.

New Warrington signing Sam Powell

“I just enjoy seeing them come in as boys and leaving as young men into the first team and giving them certain aspects, not even in rugby league but lessons in life they can take forward whatever they choose.”

The emergence of Brad O’Neill as Wigan’s starting hooker during Powell’s injury-enforced absence and the signing of ex-Leeds Rhinos No 9 Kruise Leeming for the new season meant the former England Knights international would have likely faced stiff competition for playing time in 2024.

However, he finds himself in a similar position at Warrington because, even with Daryl Clark moving to St Helens, the Wolves have England international Danny Walker and Brad Dwyer, back at the Halliwell Jones Stadium after spells with Leeds and Hull FC, in their ranks too.

Powell accepts he may have to be deployed in the halves as he was at times during his Wigan career to get more minutes with the Wolves, but although he would rather play in his normal position, he is happy to take on another position if needed.

New Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess says that his side 'just need a little bit of tidying up' and discusses his coaching style.

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New Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess says that his side ‘just need a little bit of tidying up’ and discusses his coaching style.

New Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess says that his side ‘just need a little bit of tidying up’ and discusses his coaching style.

“I don’t mind,” Powell said. “My preference would be hooker, but I just want to be on the field playing.

“Danny and Brad are quality players, probably a little bit different to me and how I play my game. All three of us will be striving to get game time and that’s one of my goals.

“It’s a quality squad here with really good players, and I just wanted to be around it.”

Powell has had to hit the ground running with the Wolves, having only linked up with his new team-mates earlier this week with pre-season training already in full swing.

His first competitive outing at the Halliwell Jones Stadium is likely to come in Round 2 of the 2024 Super League season when Warrington host Hull FC in their first home game of the campaign on Friday, February 23.

It is a venue he knows all about from his Wigan days, although this time Powell is looking forward to having the home fans behind him rather than against him.

“I’ve come very open-minded,” Powell said. “Although I know people who play for the club at Warrington, I don’t know too much about it.

“I started a few days ago and that’s something I’m going to have to learn very quickly. I’ve been through the history of the club and trying to get a sense of what it means to the fans, because they’re so passionate.

“I love playing here on Friday nights and it’s something I want to be a part of.”

Watch every match of the 2024 Betfred Super League season, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men’s, women’s and wheelchair Grand Finals, plus the World Club Challenge, live on Sky Sports. Also stream with NOW.



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Lacey Owen: York Valkyrie and England second row living her rugby dreams and inspiring next generation


Lacey Owen is held aloft by team-mates after York’s Grand Final win over Leeds

Lacey Owen was 11 when she first picked up a rugby ball. Now aged 23, she is a Women’s Super League champion, an England international, and one of the first female rugby league players in the country to sign a professional contract.

The York Valkyrie player’s rise to the top has not been without its challenges though. Growing up in Castleford, she had to get her oval-ball fix outside of a handful of league matches for her school playing club rugby union due to a lack of offerings at the time from community clubs in the area.

Owen turned her hand to other sports such as netball and football as well, but like many in the West Yorkshire town it was rugby league which was her fervent passion, and she has rapidly realised her ambitions since joining Castleford Tigers in the Women’s Super League as a 16-year-old.

“The first time I picked a rugby ball up – maybe it was the adrenaline I got or the fact it was all right to tackle somebody and run at people,” Owen told Sky Sports.

“It’s a bit weird, but I felt like it was a sport I didn’t have to try to be good at, it just came naturally. I’m a very sporty person anyway so usually if I tried something I was good at it, but as soon as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

“Since picking a ball up from being in year seven, I’ve never looked back. I’ve tried every other sport you could imagine, but it doesn’t quite suffice for me in the way rugby does.”

Although utilised as a fly-half or outside centre in rugby union, Owen has found her niche as a second row in league and is now aiming to develop those ball-handling and organisational skills utilised in her roles in the 15-a-side code after harnessing her ability to pick a good line.

Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women's Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

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Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

After taking a six-month break from the sport for personal reasons at the end of 2021, Owen followed her former Castleford head coach Lindsay Anfield to York in May last year and has quickly become a mainstay of the Valkyrie pack.

Her form as York secured a first Grand Final triumph last month, beating reigning champions Leeds Rhinos 16-6 at the LNER Community Stadium with Owen among the try-scorers, was rewarded with her earning a first England cap in the end-of-year Test against Wales.

Her international debut off the interchange bench at Headingley saw Owen score a try with one of her first touches in the 60-0 win for the hosts, but perhaps the biggest moment for her this year came when she was one of 20 Valkyrie players to be offered a two-year professional contract.

“It’s unreal women in rugby league have got professional contracts and I’m one of the few women in the country who have got one,” Owen said.

I’m a very sporty person anyway so usually if I tried something I was good at it, but as soon as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Lacey Owen

“It’s a special thing, too. I’m not going to take it for granted next season and it shows how far rugby league has come as a whole, not just the women’s sport, and shows younger girls as well this is something you can achieve and hopefully in a couple of years it will expand.

“I was blown away when I got asked to sign a contract with York because it is a step forward and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted it to be more than a hobby.”

Although now a contracted professional player, Owen will still be combining her rugby commitments with her day-job at her old secondary school Castleford Academy, which means continuing the long days of heading to work a 7.30am and not getting back home until 9pm after training with York.

Not that she is complaining about the sacrifices she has to make though, and Owen is enthused by the growth of the women’s game in her home area which was underlined by four other schools bringing girls teams to Castleford Academy earlier this week for a Wakefield district competition.

Owen made a try-scoring debut for England in the end-of-season win over Wales

Owen made a try-scoring debut for England in the end-of-season win over Wales

Owen has become in demand for shirt presentations and end-of-season awards nights for girls teams too, and is humbled that she is being seen as an inspirational figure for the next generation.

“It’s really nice because I’m a role-model for all these young girls [at school] and I coach three rugby teams, so it’s really nice to see them progressing,” Owen said.

“They asked me lots of questions about it and say ‘Oh, Miss, do you think we’ll be able to do that as our job?’. It’s really nice to hopefully think women will either be able to do it part-time or full-time as a job.

“If we can achieve that working full-time, imagine what we could achieve if we had full-time contracts in the sport.”

York Valkyrie were crowned Women's Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

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York Valkyrie were crowned Women’s Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

York Valkyrie were crowned Women’s Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

The achievements of York’s women in recent seasons have seen them become the city’s leading rugby league lights ahead of the men’s team, the Knights, in the Championship, and Owen is delighted Andrew Henderson’s squad have been fully supportive of their efforts as well.

The Women’s Challenge Cup has so far eluded the Valkyrie though and the aim for the 2024 season is to add that prize to the collection, along with retaining the League Leaders’ Shield and repeating their Grand Final success.

“We’ve done fantastic this year as a club and something we’ve focused on is reaching the pinnacle at the right time,” Owen said. “That’s something we did really well, but now it’s about us being consistent throughout next year.

“I think the treble is on the cards for us next year and we’ve got some great players to hopefully execute that. Obviously, we all know Super League rugby and finals rugby is very different.

“It’s when pressure is applied how we execute next year, but I’ve got us pinned for the treble – I hope so, anyway.”

Watch every match of the 2024 Super League season, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men’s, women’s, and wheelchair Grand Finals, live on Sky Sports. Also stream with NOW.



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England 30-24 Fiji: Owen Farrell kicks Steve Borthwick’s side into Rugby World Cup semi-finals


Owen Farrell’s magical boot led England into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Sunday

Owen Farrell helped boot England into their sixth Rugby World Cup semi-final after surviving an incredible late fightback from Fiji at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Sunday.

England topped Pool D with four victories from four, but they took on a Fiji side in the last eight who inflicted their last defeat in the build-up to this tournament.

Steve Bortwick’s side appeared to be cruising into the semi-finals at 24-10 ahead deep in the second half but the Pacific Islanders mounted a sensational fightback to level matters with 10 minutes to go before Farrell’s boot rescued England and secured a 30-24 victory.

England – Tries: Tuilagi (14) Marchant (23). Cons: Farrell. Pens: Farrell (11,34,38,54,78). Drop goal: Farrell (72).

Fiji – Tries: Mata (28) Ravai (64) Botitu (68). Cons: Lomani, Kuruvoli (2). Pens: Lomani (20).

George Ford, the architect of England’s critical pool-stage victory over Argentina, dropped to the bench with captain Farrell moving from inside centre and Joe Marchant joining Manu Tuilagi in midfield.

Elsewhere, Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith was preferred to Freddie Steward and made only a second Test start in the full-back position.

Tuilagi celebrates after scoring England's opening try

Tuilagi celebrates after scoring England’s opening try

After a cagey opening 10 minutes, referee Mathieu Raynal handed England the chance to open the scoring in front of the posts after Fiji were penalised for not rolling away and Farrell duly obliged.

Moments later, England went through two phases from the lineout before the dangerous Tuilagi spun away and dived down in the corner for his 20th try for his country and an 8-0 lead after Farrell hit the post with his conversion.

Scrum half Frank Lomani made up for an earlier missed penalty by converting with his second attempt to get Fiji on the board but it was the men in white who continued their bright start when Joe Marchant barrowed over from close range with Farrell putting over the extras for a comfortable 15-3 lead.

The Princess of Wales watches England in action alongside chairman of the RFU, Bill Beaumont

The Princess of Wales watches England in action alongside chairman of the RFU, Bill Beaumont

Marcus Smith is caught full in the face by  Vinaya Habosi

Marcus Smith is caught full in the face by Vinaya Habosi

Things went from bad to worse for the Fijians when wing Vinaya Habosi caught Smith full in the face with his head and was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.

However, despite being down to 14-players, No 8 Viliame Mata produced a moment of magic to outfox the England defence with a neat show and go to cross over the whitewash. Lomani converted to reduce the deficit to 15-10.

Farrell and England’s breakdown success delighted Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, in the stands, by completing a penalty hat-trick as further cracks appeared in Fiji’s discipline, and Borthwick’s side led by 11 points at the break.

Marchant dives in to score England's second try

Marchant dives in to score England’s second try

Both sides hardly charged into the quarter-finals in a blaze of glory, but they were desperate to grasp a glorious opportunity to progress, especially as Fiji upped the tempo at the start of the second half.

Despite looking dangerous, Fiji were continually being beaten to the breakdown and were caught offside. Farrell slotted over his fourth penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

The Pacific Island nation recorded their first-ever win over England when the two teams last met – a 30-22 triumph in a World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham back in August and some wonderful rugby enabled them to close the gap to within punching distance when Peni Ravai burst through to get over the line with Kuruvoli converting.

Botitu (left) celebrates scoring his sides third try in an incredible conclusion to the match

Botitu (left) celebrates scoring his sides third try in an incredible conclusion to the match

Fiji were not going quietly and in an incredible turnaround they sliced England apart to score again through Vilimoni Botitu under the posts with Kuruvoli’s second successful conversion tying things up at 24-24 with 10 to go.

A pulsating finale continued at pace, with Farrell then dropping a goal to put England three points ahead, and after Ben Earl’s stunning break resulted in another Farrell penalty, Fiji were unable to pull off a late miracle.

Ollie Lawrence consoles Waisea Nayacalevu after a titanic batle

Ollie Lawrence consoles Waisea Nayacalevu after a titanic batle

The vagaries of the draw presented a less-than-perilous route to the semi-finals for England and, having now navigated it, they will be out to seize their opportunity at reaching a fourth World Cup final next Saturday.

Farrell: We had to find a way to win I Borthwick: We are determined to be successful

Owen Farrell, speaking to ITV

“It was what we expected. They are a tough, tough team that can turn it on in the blink of an eye. I thought we started the game really well. We really got after it in that first half.

“We always knew Fiji were going to have some good patches and they did. To find a way to win and get through to the semi-finals is a big step forward but we know we have plenty of work to do.”

Farrell

Farrell

England head coach Steve Borthwick, speaking to ITV

“I thought the players were magnificent. The whole squad has worked very, very hard to get that result tonight,” said Borthwick.

“I have to give immense credit to Fiji. They played tremendously well tonight and they have had a fantastic World Cup. I am obviously delighted we found a way to win that game.

“I thought the vast majority of the game we were in control. There was a spell in the second half were they scored two back-to-back tries.

“What I was really pleased with was how the players handled it thereafter.

“A lot has been written about these players and this England team over the last period of time and what I see is a group of players that can handle and rise to these occasions.

“We don’t forget that many people said that we weren’t going to make it out of the group and then there was firmness that we would lose tonight.

“These players will be written off again I am pretty sure but when I see these players, I see a fantastic group of people who are determined to be successful, determined to be the best versions of themselves.”

Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui was nearly in tears in his post-match interview. “This is just the beginning for this Fiji team,” he says. “I couldn’t be prouder.”

What’s next?

Jonny Wilkinson kicked the winning drop goal to give England victory in extra time during the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final against Australia

Jonny Wilkinson kicked the winning drop goal to give England victory in extra time during the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final against Australia

England, who won their only Webb Ellis Cup in 2003, and have been beaten World Cup finalists on three occasions in 1991, 2007 and 2019 will take on hosts France or holders South Africa in the semi-finals the Stade de France in Paris, scheduled for next Saturday October 21 (8pm kick-off BST).

New Zealand, who progressed to the World Cup semi-finals for the ninth time in their history, will face Michael Cheika’s Argentina, who are into their first semi-final since 2015, at the same venue on Friday October 20 (8pm kick-off BST).

The Pumas beat the All Blacks for the first time in Sydney in the 2020 Rugby Championship and repeated the feat last year on New Zealand soil in Christchurch.



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Ireland 24-28 New Zealand: All Blacks break Irish Rugby World Cup hearts at quarter-final stage again


Ireland suffered an eighth Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit in their history, as New Zealand beat them in a Paris epic

A ruthless New Zealand side broke Ireland hearts at the Rugby World Cup quarter-final stage again, as the All Blacks prevailed 28-24 at the Stade de France in Paris.

In a breathless first half, the All Blacks raced out to a 13-0 lead through a Leicester Fainga’anuku try, and the boots of Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett, but Ireland recovered well to narrow the half-time gap to a single point at 18-17.

Ireland’s Bundee Aki and Jamison Gibson-Park scored tries during that opening period – either side of an Ardie Savea try for New Zealand and Aaron Smith’s sin-binning for a deliberate knock-on – as Andy Farrell’s team fought back, but their inability to strike in the 22 enough proved a major factor as Will Jordan put the All Blacks back to two scores ahead with a second-half try.

Ireland – Tries: Aki (27), Gibson-Park (39), Penalty Try (64). Cons: Sexton (29, 40). Pens: Sexton (22).

New Zealand – Tries: Fainga’anuku (19), Savea (33), Jordan (53). Cons: Mo’unga (21), J Barrett (54). Pens: Mo’unga (8), J Barrett (14, 69).

Ireland responded again as their pack forced a penalty try when Codie Taylor collapsed a rampaging rolling maul, with Taylor also sin-binned for the act. But the men in green crucially failed to score against the 14 players, suffering yet another agonising last-eight exit.

Mo’unga kicked New Zealand into an early 3-0 lead, and, despite several key Ireland chances in the 22, the All Blacks then blew out the scoreboard on 19 minutes with a stunning counter-attack try down the left.

Beauden Barrett created it as he chipped and regathered, before Jordie Barrett, Fainga’anuku and Rieko Ioane connected superbly, with the latter offloading inside magnificently for Fainga’anuku to score.

New Zealand's Leceister Fainga'anuku scored the opening try of the contest

New Zealand’s Leceister Fainga’anuku scored the opening try of the contest

Mo’unga converted brilliantly for 13-0, but Johnny Sexton finally put Ireland onto the scoreboard after a cheap penalty for blocking.

On 27 minutes, Ireland – fuelled by the twinkling feet of Mack Hansen – played on penalty advantage before Aki scored a stunning solo try.

Ireland's Bundee Aki replied with a brilliant solo run and score

Ireland’s Bundee Aki replied with a brilliant solo run and score

Ireland’s lineout continued to falter, however, as, after losing another set-piece, New Zealand produced a 50:22 and were in for their second try through Savea, quick ball in the 22 paving the way for a diving finish in the corner.

Mo’unga struck wide with the conversion to leave the All Blacks up by eight, but scrum-half Smith was sin-binned with four minutes of the half to play.

Ardie Savea's try in the corner came at a crucial time for the All Blacks, just after Ireland had hit back

Ardie Savea’s try in the corner came at a crucial time for the All Blacks, just after Ireland had hit back

After one Ireland attack was illegally halted, Ireland showed courage to kick to the corner again, from where Gibson-Park sniped and reached to score superbly.

Ireland continued to waste chances when well-placed, though, their first three attacks in the 22 in the second period each coming to nothing as the All Blacks defended strongly.

Jamison Gibson-Park scored Ireland's second try on the cusp of half-time, but they wasted many other chances

Jamison Gibson-Park scored Ireland’s second try on the cusp of half-time, but they wasted many other chances

The stark difference in ruthlessness was then laid bare when Mo’unga and Jordan cut through the heart of Ireland’s defence to score a try off a lineout within their own half.

Jordie Barrett lashed over the touchline conversion for a two-score lead at 25-17, and Ireland then lost key man Hansen to injury, before Sexton should have narrowed the gap back to five points via a penalty, but struck poorly wide.

Ireland continued to play in the New Zealand half, and in the 64th minute the pack sprinted forward for a penalty try which resulted in Taylor’s yellow card, handing Ireland a golden chance inside the final quarter. New Zealand were next to score, however, as Jordie Barrett struck over for a four-point lead.

Aki forced a breakdown penalty within moments, and though Ireland’s maul got rumbling forward again, Ronan Kelleher was agonisingly held up as he dived for the line.

The All Blacks' defence just held out in the second half to claim victory

The All Blacks’ defence just held out in the second half to claim victory

Caelan Doris then knocked on the goal-line dropout to compound the error, with Taylor’s sin-bin elapsing for no Ireland score.

Farrell’s men summoned up one final effort through 30-plus phases into the New Zealand 22, but they just fell short.

Sexton: I’m very proud of the boys and the nation | ‘We couldn’t have done more’

Ireland captain Sexton told ITV Sport post-match…

“I’m very proud of the boys. Proud of the nation, the country, we couldn’t have done any more really.

“It’s fine margins, they sucker punched us on a couple of tries and we had to work really hard for our tries, that’s what champions do.

“Fair play to them, they’re a cracking team. It’s been amazing, these last six weeks have been a dream. This group, these fans and I’m just gutted we couldn’t do it for them.

“You’ve got to work hard for fairy-tale endings, we didn’t get it and that’s just life.

“We didn’t leave a stone unturned, we ticked every box, trained the house down. I thought after a slow enough start we played alright tonight.

“Fair play to the All Blacks, they’re a very good team and well coached.”

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said post-match…

“It was a massive game between two teams that were desperate for a result and they’re an incredibly proud team with an amazing record coming into this one.

“But the quarter-finals is about knockout rugby and we’ve been there before and we know we were going to have to dig into ourselves, we did and I couldn’t be more proud.

“Pretty important, wasn’t it? [Barrett holding up Kelleher over the try-line]. He got himself underneath it and that’s the game of small margins. Our defence was particularly strong for most of the game.”

What’s next?

The defeat means Ireland exit at the quarter-final stage of a World Cup for the eighth time in their history, and have still yet to make a World Cup semi-final. They exit having topped Pool B after wins over Romania, Tonga, South Africa and Scotland, before falling to the All Blacks as they did four years ago in Japan.

The victory means New Zealand progress to the World Cup semi-finals for the ninth time in their history, and will face Argentina at the Stade de France in Paris on Friday October 20 (8pm kick-off BST).



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Women’s Super League: Can York Valkyrie swoop against Leeds Rhinos for latest Grand Final shot at glory?

Marc Bazeley

@MarcBazeley

League Leaders’ Shield winners York Valkyrie and reigning champions Leeds Rhinos face off again in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final at the LNER Community Stadium; watch live on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Mix from 2.30pm on Sunday (3pm kick-off)

Last Updated: 06/10/23 6:14pm


York captain Sinead Peach and Leeds skipper Hanna Butcher have their sights on lifting the Women’s Super League trophy on Sunday

The story of the York Valkyrie rugby league revolution has, up to now, been a case of so near yet so far.

The 2021 Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup final and last year’s Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final both saw them fall short of claiming one of the sport’s big two prizes. Earlier this year, York were denied a place in the first Women’s Challenge Cup final to be at Wembley as well in an agonising one-point defeat to St Helens as well.

However, the Valkyrie have another chance to put all those near misses to bed in the Women’s Super League showpiece on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Once again, they already have the League Leaders’ Shield from the regular season in the bag and once again face Leeds Rhinos to be crowned champions.

This year, however, Lindsay Anfield’s side have home advantage courtesy of that top-of-the-table finish and will be playing in front of a bumper crowd at the LNER Community Stadium, with captain Sinead Peach under no illusion as to how significant it would be for the club to clinch a maiden BWSL title.

“It means everything,” Peach told York RLFC TV. “Starting out the season, you put out platforms for what you want to achieve and losing in the [Challenge Cup] semi-final, we were gutted, but we’ve bounced back since that.

“We’ve got an opportunity to lift another cup after the League Leaders’ and it’s everything we want, and I’m sure the girls are willing to do everything they can to make sure they come out victorious.”

For the second year in a row, York overcame Wigan Warriors to earn a place in the Grand Final, this time winning 22-6 thanks to another pivotal display from reigning Woman of Steel Tara-Jane Stanley, who scored one try and assisted two others after the visitors had taken an early lead.

Highlights of the York Valkyrie's win over Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Women's Super League semi-finals

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Highlights of the York Valkyrie’s win over Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Women’s Super League semi-finals

Highlights of the York Valkyrie’s win over Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Women’s Super League semi-finals

Reigning champions Leeds, meanwhile, needed a try from Sophie Robinson in golden point extra-time to defeat St Helens 20-16 at Totally Wicked Stadium in their semi-final clash and go some way to avenging their Wembley cup final loss to Saints in August.

Leeds have reached the Grand Final again despite England internationals Fran Goldthorp and Georgia Roche making the switch to Australia’s NRLW competition earlier this year and Caitlin Beevers, player of the match in last year’s 12-4 win over York in the title decider, hailed the togetherness of the squad.

“I think we’ve done really well,” Beevers told Sky Sports. “We’ve had a lot of adversity; we had players moving to the NRLW at the start of the season along with some injuries at the start, and I think we’ve really got to the point where we can compete in games like this.

“For the last two years we’ve managed to make it to the Grand Final and that shows how committed we are.

Caitlin Beevers says Leeds are raring to go for the women's Super League Grand final but wary of an in-form York side and their dangerous forwards

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Caitlin Beevers says Leeds are raring to go for the women’s Super League Grand final but wary of an in-form York side and their dangerous forwards

Caitlin Beevers says Leeds are raring to go for the women’s Super League Grand final but wary of an in-form York side and their dangerous forwards

“No matter the adversity we face at the start of the season, we come together and that shows what the environment at Leeds is all about.

“We’re ready and raring to go. Training for the last two weeks has been absolutely phenomenal, so we’re biting at the bit to get going.”

Last year’s final was played at the neutral venue of Totally Wicked Stadium and Leeds know how much home advantage does not always count after defeat on their Headingley home turf by St Helens in the 2021 decider.

Peach is adamant York are taking nothing for granted either, having been held to a 12-12 draw by the Rhinos at home in July after beating them 34-12 away in April, but the 2023 Woman of Steel nominee and her team-mates are excited they have the opportunity to be crowned champions for the first time in front of a partisan crowd.

Highlights of Leeds Rhinos' dramatic Betfred Women's Super League semi-final win over St Helens

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Highlights of Leeds Rhinos’ dramatic Betfred Women’s Super League semi-final win over St Helens

Highlights of Leeds Rhinos’ dramatic Betfred Women’s Super League semi-final win over St Helens

“It’s massive that we’ve got the home advantage and we’re comfortable playing here, but in the same sense we’re not complacent,” Peach said.

“We know there is a job to do, but mentally preparing that we’re going to be at our home ground with our home supporters is massive for us, and the girls are really excited to get out there and put on a good show.

“We know the fans will get behind us with the drums, so we’re looking forward to running out.”

Wilkin: Rhinos have the ability to win tight games

Sky Sports rugby league pundit Jon Wilkin on this year’s Women’s Super League Grand Final:

“Much like the men’s team from their golden era, Leeds just have an ability to win tight games and games they maybe shouldn’t win.

“I thought they did that against St Helens in the semi-finals – it was an incredible performance and a golden-point win, and rightly they find their way to the Grand Final.

“York, although they’ve played great, they haven’t won that competition before, and I know as a player that’s in the back of your mind.

“That could be poisonous for the mentality of the York team and could play into Leeds’ hands.”

Watch York Valkyrie and Leeds Rhinos face off in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final live on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Mix from 2.30pm on Sunday (3pm kick-off). Also stream the Women’s, Men’s and Wheelchair Super League Grand Finals and more on with NOW for £21 a month for six months.



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Ryder Cup 2023: Where did it go wrong for USA in Rome as Europe extend home winning streak?


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Team USA captain Zach Johnson gives his reaction after his side lost the Ryder Cup to Team Europe.

Team USA captain Zach Johnson gives his reaction after his side lost the Ryder Cup to Team Europe.

The wait goes on for Team USA.

Not since 1993 at The Belfry have America won a Ryder Cup on European soil, with a 16.5-11.5 defeat in Rome this week condemning them to a seventh consecutive loss on the road.

So just where did it go wrong for Zach Johnson’s side at Marco Simone?

The best of the action from day three of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

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The best of the action from day three of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

The best of the action from day three of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

Lack of preparation

Whereas each member of the European team teed it up at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth earlier this month, nine of the American twelvesome had not tasted any competitive golf since the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta in late August.

Only Justin Thomas and Max Homa – the latter of whom ended up USA’s top points scorer in Rome with 3.5 out of five – had played on the PGA Tour in the last month, while Brooks Koepka featured on the LIV Golf circuit a week before the Ryder Cup.

US skipper Johnson refuted the notion that his men were undercooked, saying at his post-event press conference: “There’s something to be said about rest and recovering and getting your game in a position where you can compete. These guys have won a lot of golf tournaments with weeks off.

“I might reflect on some changes that I maybe could have done or nuanced or altered or whatever [but] I am not going to slight the preparation of these guys. Whether it was at home or here, I know they were working their tails off to retain and bring the cup back home.”

After Team Europe won the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, take a look at the best shots from the Sunday singles matches.

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After Team Europe won the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, take a look at the best shots from the Sunday singles matches.

After Team Europe won the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, take a look at the best shots from the Sunday singles matches.

However, Paul McGinley, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup glory at Gleneagles in 2014, felt the American team lacked a “competitive cutting edge, saying: “In Paris in 2018, America were over-golfed and jaded. This time was the opposite, players hadn’t played in weeks. I only started to see fire from USA on Saturday afternoon but by then the horse had bolted. Europe were out of sight.”

Sir Nick Faldo also said that there was “no way” America’s players would head into a major having not played for so long and Jordan Spieth said for him personally that such a lengthy rest was not ideal.

“If it were tighter to our TOUR Championship and/or even if it were later and we had more of an opportunity to get a little rest and play more of an event or something, then it helps a bit.”

Johnson’s captains’ picks

Eyebrows were raised when Johnson announced his wildcard selections for the Ryder Cup with Justin Thomas given a gig despite failing to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, missing the cut in three majors (Masters, US Open, Open Championship) and finishing tied for 65th in the other.

Thomas picked up 1.5 points in Italy, the joint-highest return among Johnson’s six picks alongside Koepka, with Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns and Spieth securing a solitary point and Rickie Fowler absolutely zilch, although the latter was said to be battling illness.

European fans at the Ryder Cup continued to taunt Patrick Cantlay by waving caps in his direction and booing him on the first tee at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

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European fans at the Ryder Cup continued to taunt Patrick Cantlay by waving caps in his direction and booing him on the first tee at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

European fans at the Ryder Cup continued to taunt Patrick Cantlay by waving caps in his direction and booing him on the first tee at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

Among those overlooked by Johnson was Lucas Glover, with the 43-year-old’s back-to-back victories at the Wyndham Championship and FedEx St Jude Championship in August not enough to earn him a call-up. LIV trio Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Talor Gooch also missed out.

Dustin Johnson managed five points from five when USA demolished Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits in 2021, DeChambeau has won two of the last three LIV events and shot a 58 in one of them, while Gooch is a three-time champion in the LIV League in 2023.

Faldo said: “Johnson took a risk with his six picks. They are great names but I said right from the start that they were all running hot and cold. He left out Glover who had just won two tournaments so I am sure he is hurting over that.”

The pairings

“I maybe made some poor decisions… I’ll reflect at some point,” was what captain Johnson told Sky Sports shortly after Tommy Fleetwood clinched the Ryder Cup for Team Europe.

Tommy Fleetwood secured a point for Team Europe in his singles match against Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup, with an incredible tee shot at the par-4 16th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

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Tommy Fleetwood secured a point for Team Europe in his singles match against Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup, with an incredible tee shot at the par-4 16th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

Tommy Fleetwood secured a point for Team Europe in his singles match against Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup, with an incredible tee shot at the par-4 16th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

Johnson was quick to praise his 12 players but those “poor decisions” he mentioned are possibly with regards to how he paired them, with USA only managing 5.5 of the 16 points available across fourballs and foursomes. Foursomes was a complete disaster for America. They were thrashed 7-1.

It was a little odd to see Ryder Cup rookie Burns put in the first match of the entire contest – one he and Scottie Scheffler lost 4&3 to Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton. It was perhaps even odder to see Koepka, Thomas and Spieth not used at all until the afternoon’s fourballs.

Koepka has been one of the gun players of 2023, winning the third PGA Championship of his career in May after finishing second at The Masters in April, while Thomas and Spieth were expected to be a key pairing for Johnson having linked up before in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups.

Overconfidence, illness or lack of team morale?

We may never know if any of those things played a part in Team USA’s defeat but Sky Sports’ Dame Laura Davies wondered whether the away side expected an easy win after utterly dominating Europe in Wisconsin two years ago. “Maybe because they won so easily at Whistling Straits they thought it would be a breeze to win the trophy again,” she said.

Faldo added: “Whether America thought they could waltz over here because they are bigger and stronger, I don’t know, but they got a nasty shock. Europe were physically, technically and mentally prepared. They were ready.”

Johnson and his players have also been adamant that this USA team is a close-knit one, despite murmurings that not all was well in the camp. The team line has been that Patrick Cantlay’s decision to go hatless was not done because he objected to players going unpaid for this tournament but simply because he could not find a cap that fit.

Maybe the ill-feeling was overplayed, then, but you do sense the more natural rapport there seems to be in the European side was crucial in their foursomes success.

Luke Donald was overcome with emotion after leading Team Europe to a sensational Ryder Cup victory over Team USA in Rome.

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Luke Donald was overcome with emotion after leading Team Europe to a sensational Ryder Cup victory over Team USA in Rome.

Luke Donald was overcome with emotion after leading Team Europe to a sensational Ryder Cup victory over Team USA in Rome.

Skipper Luke Donald opted to begin with that format in the hope of a “fast start” and, boy, did he get one, with the home side winning the opening morning 4-0.

US captain Johnson said after his team’s day-one horror show that illness had been a factor, if not an excuse. “We’re fighting things internally. It’s kind of passed around a little bit, caddies, players. I’m grateful we have a team doctor.

“The bottom line is there’s been some unforeseen things that we’ve had to navigate around, which is really unfortunate, in the sense of health. It’s one of those where sometimes the energy is probably a little low, but the ability and desire to go out and play is still there.”

Europe were too good

Viktor Hovland was in inspired form in his singles match against Collin Morikawa, winning 4&3 as Europe edged closer to regaining the Ryder Cup in Rome.

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Viktor Hovland was in inspired form in his singles match against Collin Morikawa, winning 4&3 as Europe edged closer to regaining the Ryder Cup in Rome.

Viktor Hovland was in inspired form in his singles match against Collin Morikawa, winning 4&3 as Europe edged closer to regaining the Ryder Cup in Rome.

That’s the main reason USA lost the Ryder Cup. Even if there was infighting, illness, a lack of competitive golf, and poor pairings, even if not wining overseas in 30 years weighed heavily on them, America were ultimately blown away by the better side.

McIlroy, Rahm and Viktor Hovland showed exactly why they sit so high in the world rankings, winning four, 3.5 and three points respectively to lead Europe towards victory, while every single player contributed at least half a point to the overall tally of 16.5.

Home Ryder Cups seem to bring the best out of Europe and for McIlroy the event cannot be topped by anything else in the game.

Rory McIlroy reflects on Team Europe's journey to victory at the Ryder Cup and how much the win means to him.

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Rory McIlroy reflects on Team Europe’s journey to victory at the Ryder Cup and how much the win means to him.

Rory McIlroy reflects on Team Europe’s journey to victory at the Ryder Cup and how much the win means to him.

“I don’t get emotional about any other event apart from this. This is truly the best event in golf bar none. Any boy or girl aspiring to play golf, this is the pinnacle.

“This is the best and I hope anyone who is a great golfer gets to experience what we are experiencing right now.”

Team USA will hope to experience it at New York in 2025, erasing the mistakes and memories of another unsuccessful visit to Europe.

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Ryder Cup: Europe lead 10.5-5.5 over Team USA despite Patrick Cantlay’s dramatic fourballs finish

Rory McIlroy involved in heated exchange on 18th green and in car park after Patrick Cantlay’s dramatic final-hole fourballs win; Team Europe need just four points on final day to regain trophy; Watch the Sunday singles live from 9am on Sky Sports Golf, ahead of first tee from 10.35am

Last Updated: 30/09/23 10:33pm


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Lots of drama on the 18th hole on Day 2 as Team USA wave their caps back at the Ryder Cup crowd as Patrick Cantlay earns his team a crucial point.

Lots of drama on the 18th hole on Day 2 as Team USA wave their caps back at the Ryder Cup crowd as Patrick Cantlay earns his team a crucial point.

Team Europe are closing on an emphatic Ryder Cup victory after retaining a commanding five-point lead over Team USA heading into the Sunday singles in Rome.

Luke Donald’s side began the day five ahead and extended their advantage after edging the Saturday foursomes session, only for Team USA to claim three points in the fourballs and cut the gap to 10.5-5.5 at Marco Simone GC.

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg had reduced Scottie Scheffler to tears earlier in the day after defeating the world No 1 and Brooks Koepka 9&7, the biggest 18-hole win in Ryder Cup history, only to struggle in the afternoon session and fall to a 4&3 loss to Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa.

Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa beat Viktor Hovland (Nor) and Ludvig Åberg (Swe) 4&3

Max Homa and Brian Harman beat Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) and Nicolai Hojgaard (Den) 2&1

Justin Rose (Eng) and Robert MacIntyre (Sco) beat Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 3&2

Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark beat Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng) and Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 1up

The best of the action from day two of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

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The best of the action from day two of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

The best of the action from day two of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka were beaten 9&7 by Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg in the Saturday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome, a record defeat in the competition

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Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka were beaten 9&7 by Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg in the Saturday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome, a record defeat in the competition

Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka were beaten 9&7 by Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg in the Saturday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome, a record defeat in the competition

Max Homa and Brian Harman claimed their second point of the day when they survived a late comeback from Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard to earn a 2&1 win, with a Team USA clean sweep temporarily remaining a possibility with two matches left on the course.

Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre claimed Europe’s first point of the session when they despatched Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 3&2, before Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick were beaten in a dramatic finish in the final match.

Justin Rose repeats his heroics of day one by draining this clutch putt to seal a point for Team Europe, this time claiming a 3&2 win over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth

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Justin Rose repeats his heroics of day one by draining this clutch putt to seal a point for Team Europe, this time claiming a 3&2 win over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth

Justin Rose repeats his heroics of day one by draining this clutch putt to seal a point for Team Europe, this time claiming a 3&2 win over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth

The Europe were one ahead with two to play against Wyndham Clark and Patrick Cantlay, who quietened the home crowd by birdieing the 17th and draining a sensational 45-foot birdie at the last to snatch a 1up win and session victory for the visitors.

Angry scenes followed on the 18th green, with Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava involved in heated conversations with McIlroy after allegedly standing on his line, before the argument spilled over to the car park and McIlroy had to be ushered away by Lowry.

A furious Rory McIlroy confronted a Team USA caddie in the car park post-round after an incident on the 18th hole.

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A furious Rory McIlroy confronted a Team USA caddie in the car park post-round after an incident on the 18th hole.

A furious Rory McIlroy confronted a Team USA caddie in the car park post-round after an incident on the 18th hole.

Europe need four points in the Sunday singles to regain the trophy and win a seventh consecutive home edition of the biennial contest, while Zach Johnson’s American team need eight points to retain the cup and 8.5 points to end their 30-year wait for victory on away soil.

Sky Sports' Jamie Weir dissects the stories surrounding Patrick Cantlay and why day two has led to high tensions between the two teams.

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Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir dissects the stories surrounding Patrick Cantlay and why day two has led to high tensions between the two teams.

Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir dissects the stories surrounding Patrick Cantlay and why day two has led to high tensions between the two teams.

Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa beat Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg 4&3

Burns holed a birdie at the first and converted from 10 feet for a winning par at the third, then responded to Hovland winning the fourth by birdieing the next and gesturing to the home crowd after holing from close range at the sixth.

Team USA's Sam Burns sinks the putt to win the sixth hole before gesturing to the Ryder Cup crowd.

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Team USA’s Sam Burns sinks the putt to win the sixth hole before gesturing to the Ryder Cup crowd.

Team USA’s Sam Burns sinks the putt to win the sixth hole before gesturing to the Ryder Cup crowd.

Morikawa took advantage of the par-five ninth to reach the turn four ahead and followed a birdie at the 11th by making a 10-foot eagle at the 12th to go six up with six to play.

The two-time major champion missed from four feet at the 13th and six feet at the 14th to lose both holes to Åberg birdies, before a par at the next was enough to give both Americans their first win of the contest.

Team USA's Sam Burns makes his par putt on the 15th hole to close out a 4&3 win with partner Colin Morikawa and insists the team believe they can make a Ryder Cup comeback.

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Team USA’s Sam Burns makes his par putt on the 15th hole to close out a 4&3 win with partner Colin Morikawa and insists the team believe they can make a Ryder Cup comeback.

Team USA’s Sam Burns makes his par putt on the 15th hole to close out a 4&3 win with partner Colin Morikawa and insists the team believe they can make a Ryder Cup comeback.

“We did a good job out there,” Burns said. “We knew it was going to be tough. We knew the crowds were going to be against us. We just kept fighting, and glad to put a point on the board for our team.”

Max Homa and Brian Harman beat Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard 2&1

Homa opened with a six-foot birdie and Team USA stayed ahead when Hojgaard missed a birdie opportunity at the third, with the American then draining a 40-footer at the fourth and matching Fleetwood’s birdie at the next.

Max Homa produced some stunning shots as he was Team USA's star man winning both his matches on Saturday at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

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Max Homa produced some stunning shots as he was Team USA’s star man winning both his matches on Saturday at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

Max Homa produced some stunning shots as he was Team USA’s star man winning both his matches on Saturday at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

The Americans pulled further clear when Homa birdied the sixth and Harman took advantage of the ninth to reach the turn four ahead, with the visitors responding to losing the 10th to a Fleetwood birdie by making a brilliant eagle at the par-five 12th.

Hojgaard’s 30-foot birdie at the 14th and Fleetwood’s remarkable chip-in eagle from off the 16th green extended the contest, before Homa secured a second point of the day for him and Harman with a par on the penultimate hole.

Tommy Fleetwood keeps the hopes alive in his match-up with this spectacular chip-in to ignite the Ryder Cup crowd.

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Tommy Fleetwood keeps the hopes alive in his match-up with this spectacular chip-in to ignite the Ryder Cup crowd.

Tommy Fleetwood keeps the hopes alive in his match-up with this spectacular chip-in to ignite the Ryder Cup crowd.

Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre beat Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 3&2

MacIntyre slotted in from 15 feet to match the birdie at the first from Spieth, who added another at the fourth, while Rose’s winning birdie at the sixth was cancelled out when Thomas holed from six feet to win the next.

It was the signature pumped up celebration for Justin Rose as he sinks this 15-foot putt for the birdie and to win the hole.

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It was the signature pumped up celebration for Justin Rose as he sinks this 15-foot putt for the birdie and to win the hole.

It was the signature pumped up celebration for Justin Rose as he sinks this 15-foot putt for the birdie and to win the hole.

Rose birdied the ninth and drained a 15-footer at the 10th to move Europe ahead in the match for the first time, with MacIntyre winning the par-three 13th to double their advantage.

A par from Rose was enough to claim the 14th and MacIntyre’s brilliant up and down secured a tie at the next, with the point secure at the next to continue the Scot’s unbeaten start to his Ryder Cup career.

Justin Rose is rolling back the years on Day 2 of the Ryder Cup, as he sinks this superb birdie to give Europe the lead for the first time in match three.

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Justin Rose is rolling back the years on Day 2 of the Ryder Cup, as he sinks this superb birdie to give Europe the lead for the first time in match three.

Justin Rose is rolling back the years on Day 2 of the Ryder Cup, as he sinks this superb birdie to give Europe the lead for the first time in match three.

“Today is everything I’ve dreamed of. I worked hard for it,” MacIntyre said. “Yesterday I felt like I let Justin [Rose] down a little bit but he stood up to the challenge and today he was brilliant again, and thankfully I helped him out.”

Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark beat Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy 1up

McIlroy edged ahead with a 10-foot birdie at the fourth and halved the next after missing his eagle try, having driven the green, with both teams taking advantage of the par-four ninth to leave Europe 1up at the turn.

Rory McIlroy had three wins from three before this loss

Rory McIlroy had three wins from three before this loss

Cantlay left himself a close-range birdie to win the 11th and Fitzpatrick drained a 20-footer to match Clark’s birdie at the 13th, while McIlroy moved Europe back ahead when he holed from 10 feet at the 14th.

Cantlay holed from 10 feet to match McIlroy’s birdie at the 16th and made a birdie at the next to pull the contest level heading to the par-five last, where Cantlay recovered from a poor pitch to hole a remarkable 45-foot birdie and spark wild celebrations on the final green.

Patrick Cantlay amazing three putts on the last three holes helped Team USA claim a point and keep their Ryder Cup hopes alive.

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Patrick Cantlay amazing three putts on the last three holes helped Team USA claim a point and keep their Ryder Cup hopes alive.

Patrick Cantlay amazing three putts on the last three holes helped Team USA claim a point and keep their Ryder Cup hopes alive.

Caddie LaCava appeared to step across the line of a European putt as he waved his own cap in the air in celebration, with a heated debate ensuing on the 18th green and the argument continuing into the car park.

“Obviously they had a great finish and you know, Patrick made three great putts at the end to seal the deal, so hats off to them,” McIlroy said. “They played a great match, and yeah, a few scenes there on 18 and just fuel for the fire tomorrow.”

What’s next?

Watch the Ryder Cup exclusively live this week on Sky Sports! Live coverage of the singles begins on Sunday from 9am, ahead of the first tee time at 10.35am. Stream the Ryder Cup and more for £21 a month for six months with NOW.

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Ryder Cup: What next for Team USA after nightmare start? Europe enjoy historic start in Rome


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The best of the action from day one of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

The best of the action from day one of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

As Team Europe romped into a 6.5-1.5 lead over the USA on a remarkable opening day of the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome, we take a look at the biggest talking points from Friday’s action…

Europe make history with strong start

Historically, the team which leads after the first session in the Ryder Cup goes on to win the trophy 60 per cent of the time, so it was imperative Europe got off to a flying start in the foursomes.

They did that in emphatic style, completing a clean sweep in the morning session, with a devastating showing where the hosts were not behind at any point.

It is the first time Europe have led 4-0 after the opening session and the first time the Americans had trailed heading into the afternoon on day one since 2006, with former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley leading the praises.

“It’s huge – I didn’t see it coming,” McGinley, who oversaw Europe’s 2014 victory, said. “I knew Europe were primed, I knew they had a lot of form in their team, and I knew America were a little bit under-prepared.

Jon Rahm was on brilliant form for Team Europe as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 4&3 during the Friday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

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Jon Rahm was on brilliant form for Team Europe as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 4&3 during the Friday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

Jon Rahm was on brilliant form for Team Europe as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 4&3 during the Friday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

“I thought we were going to come out of the blocks fast, I didn’t think it was going to be this fast. What a sensational morning for Europe. It was brilliant golf – it wasn’t a fluke in any way.”

Donald’s foursomes gambit pays off

The start vindicated Team Europe captain Luke Donald’s decision to play the foursomes first and underlined his belief that is the format his players are stronger in.

That decision was taken after some detailed analysis which showed the team’s strength lies there rather than in the fourballs, with Donald adopting specific practice routines to build on that.

Luke Donald praised his team's performance on the first day of the Ryder Cup as they notched five match victories across foursomes and fourballs.

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Luke Donald praised his team’s performance on the first day of the Ryder Cup as they notched five match victories across foursomes and fourballs.

Luke Donald praised his team’s performance on the first day of the Ryder Cup as they notched five match victories across foursomes and fourballs.

“I’m happy with the way the guys came out the gate,” Donald said. “They got leads early on, which is paramount in match play, so it was an amazing start.”

Rory McIlroy, who partnered Tommy Fleetwood to a 2&1 victory over the previously unbeaten pairing of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, was in no doubt that was proven by Europe’s morning showing in Rome.

“We switched the format this year to go foursomes first because statistically that’s our better session and, all week, all we’ve been talking about is getting off to fast starts,” McIlroy said.

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood reflect on their 2&1 win over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay at the Ryder Cup in Rome which gave Team Europe a Friday foursomes whitewash over Team USA.

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Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood reflect on their 2&1 win over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay at the Ryder Cup in Rome which gave Team Europe a Friday foursomes whitewash over Team USA.

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood reflect on their 2&1 win over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay at the Ryder Cup in Rome which gave Team Europe a Friday foursomes whitewash over Team USA.

“Playing three-hole matches in practice, three holes, go again, three holes, go again, something that Luke’s drilled into us. We were ready to go from the first tee shot as obviously as you can see in how everyone played.”

Lack of match practice costly for USA?

There had been a lot of talk about whether the limited competitive action for America’s players in the build-up to the Ryder Cup would affect them.

Judging by their dismal performances in all of the morning foursomes, that argument would seem to have merit.

Viktor Hovland produced some stunning shots on the way to partnering Ludvig Aberg to a 4&3 victory over Max Homa and Brian Harman.

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Viktor Hovland produced some stunning shots on the way to partnering Ludvig Aberg to a 4&3 victory over Max Homa and Brian Harman.

Viktor Hovland produced some stunning shots on the way to partnering Ludvig Aberg to a 4&3 victory over Max Homa and Brian Harman.

Two of the matches were finished with three holes to play while the other two were concluded on the 17th and two-time Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew saw that lack of action as a contributory factor.

“The Americans just looked rusty,” Mathew said. “They were hitting a bad shot at the wrong time, not putting particularly well, and I think that lack of playing has really hurt them this morning.”

That was a view which was shared by McGinley, although he felt a lot of the lopsided scoreline was down to how well Europe played as much as anything.

“That concentration level of not being competitive for four or five weeks is relevant,” McGinley said. “They’re the small mistakes you make when you’re not on the edge competitively. I saw a little bit of that from the American team this morning, along with some brilliant golf from the Europeans.”

Though the US team were more competitive in the afternoon fourballs, Sky Sports’ Andrew Coltart didn’t hold back in his criticism of the Americans’ preparation.

“Who on earth in their right mind thinks the best way to prepare for a Ryder Cup is to take five weeks off?” he said. “Nine of the 12 American players took five weeks off. That’s disgraceful!”

Andrew Coltart questions Team USA's preparation ahead of the Ryder Cup, as David Howell says they have been humbled following a dominant European display on Friday.

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Andrew Coltart questions Team USA’s preparation ahead of the Ryder Cup, as David Howell says they have been humbled following a dominant European display on Friday.

Andrew Coltart questions Team USA’s preparation ahead of the Ryder Cup, as David Howell says they have been humbled following a dominant European display on Friday.

US fail to capitalise in afternoon session

While Europe’s dominance on the opening day can’t be understated, there was a fear that their four-point advantage from the foursomes was to be reduced to two heading into Saturday.

“It was looking like 3-1 to the US,” Donald admitted, before adding: “To win this session was huge!

Justin Thomas holed a pressure par putt on the 15th hole at the Ryder Cup in Rome to stay one up with three to play in the fourballs session but then missed a short putt on the 16th to lose the hole.

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Justin Thomas holed a pressure par putt on the 15th hole at the Ryder Cup in Rome to stay one up with three to play in the fourballs session but then missed a short putt on the 16th to lose the hole.

Justin Thomas holed a pressure par putt on the 15th hole at the Ryder Cup in Rome to stay one up with three to play in the fourballs session but then missed a short putt on the 16th to lose the hole.

“We showed so much grit and determination to turn it around. It was tough this afternoon, really hard going, with three matches coming down to 18, but the 18th was kind to us!”

Wasn’t it just. Europe trailed in each of the opening three matches in the afternoon fourballs going down the stretch, with both Viktor Hovland and Tyrell Hatton’s pairing, and Justin Rose and Robert McIntyre, two down through 13 holes.

Not only that, but Rose and McIntyre trailed still by one heading up 18, as did Jon Rahm and Nicolai Hojgaard in their matchup against the formidable pairing of world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and five-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

Hovland got things rolling first for Europe, sinking a clutch putt over the ridge on the 18th green for birdie and to complete his and Hatton’s comeback against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth – the first of three halved matches.

Jon Rahm produced two stunning shots to eagle the par-5 18th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club and claim a thrilling half in the match against Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler in the Ryder Cup.

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Jon Rahm produced two stunning shots to eagle the par-5 18th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club and claim a thrilling half in the match against Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler in the Ryder Cup.

Jon Rahm produced two stunning shots to eagle the par-5 18th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club and claim a thrilling half in the match against Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler in the Ryder Cup.

Then Rahm, for the second time in three holes, thrilled the fervent European crowd with an eagle! After chipping in on the par-four 16th, he found the green in two at the par-five 18th and holed an even longer putt than Hovland’s.

Rose then completed the streak with a clutch putt for birdie to round off a remarkable European run and see them win the session 2.5-1.5 and enter day two five points ahead.

Justin Rose holes a pressure putt on the 18th hole to deny Team USA a win, securing a brilliant day for the Europeans.

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Justin Rose holes a pressure putt on the 18th hole to deny Team USA a win, securing a brilliant day for the Europeans.

Justin Rose holes a pressure putt on the 18th hole to deny Team USA a win, securing a brilliant day for the Europeans.

Records tumble for Team Europe!

And those five points that Europe lead by heading into Saturday ties the largest one-day lead in Ryder Cup history, matching the efforts of the 1975 US team and Europe in 2004 – those teams going on to secure 10 and nine-point wins respectively.

Not only that, there’s Europe’s first ever 4-0 Friday morning clean sweep to consider, as well as the opening day in Rome being the first instance ever in which the US have failed to win one single match outright.

A look at the best of Matt Fitzpatrick in the Friday fourballs, including three consecutive birdies and a brilliant eagle on route to a dominant win with partner Rory McIlroy.

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A look at the best of Matt Fitzpatrick in the Friday fourballs, including three consecutive birdies and a brilliant eagle on route to a dominant win with partner Rory McIlroy.

A look at the best of Matt Fitzpatrick in the Friday fourballs, including three consecutive birdies and a brilliant eagle on route to a dominant win with partner Rory McIlroy.

Not that Donald is taking his counterparts lightly.

“We’ll never do that [underestimate the US],” the Team Europe captain said. “They’re too strong. We saw that two years ago [at Whistling Straits].

“Each day it’s about trying to win the next session.”

And, true to his words, the captain has chosen precisely the same eight players who swept the Friday morning foursomes to try and win the next session on Saturday. Will it be another historic day for his side or will the great American fightback take hold?

Watch day two of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club live on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 6am, starting with the second round of foursomes. Also stream on NOW.



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Ryder Cup: Team Europe go 4-0 up over Team USA after historic Friday foursomes sweep in Rome

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton won the opening match; Viktor Hovland impressed alongside rookie Ludvig Åberg; victories for Shane Lowry, Sepp Straka, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood; watch the Ryder Cup all week live on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 29/09/23 12:06pm


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Viktor Hovland produced some stunning shots on the way to partnering Ludvig Åberg to a 4&3 victory over Max Homa and Brian Harman

Viktor Hovland produced some stunning shots on the way to partnering Ludvig Åberg to a 4&3 victory over Max Homa and Brian Harman

Team Europe made the dream start in their bid to regain the Ryder Cup after winning all four foursomes matches to sweep the opening session for the first time in the event’s history.

Captain Luke Donald’s decision to start a home Ryder Cup with foursomes rather than the traditional fourballs immediately paid off during a dominant display at Marco Simone GC, where Europe never trailed at any point in any match as they stormed to a 4-0 advantage.

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton brushed aside world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and an out-of-sorts Sam Burns 4&3 in the top match, while rookie Ludvig Åberg made a winning start to his Ryder Cup career by partnering Viktor Hovland to victory by the same margin over Max Homa and Brian Harman.

Jon Rahm was on brilliant form for Team Europe as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 4&3 during the Friday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome

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Jon Rahm was on brilliant form for Team Europe as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 4&3 during the Friday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome

Jon Rahm was on brilliant form for Team Europe as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 4&3 during the Friday foursomes at the Ryder Cup in Rome

Sepp Straka enjoyed a winning debut as he joined Shane Lowry in despatching Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa 2&1, putting Europe 3-0 ahead, while Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood completed a remarkable morning for the hosts by beating Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay by the same margin.

It’s the first time Europe have ever led 4-0 after the opening session and the first time since 2006 where Team USA will trail heading into Friday afternoon, giving the hosts a commanding lead as they chase a seventh consecutive home victory in the biennial contest.

Rory McIlroy hit a stunning tee shot on the par three 17th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club at the Ryder Cup to confirm a whitewash for Team Europe in the Friday foursomes

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Rory McIlroy hit a stunning tee shot on the par three 17th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club at the Ryder Cup to confirm a whitewash for Team Europe in the Friday foursomes

Rory McIlroy hit a stunning tee shot on the par three 17th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club at the Ryder Cup to confirm a whitewash for Team Europe in the Friday foursomes

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 4&3

Rahm holed from off the green to birdie the third and Europe doubled their lead by taking advantage of the fifth, with the hosts responding to losing the sixth to a six-foot Burns birdie by winning the par-three next after Rahm almost made a hole-in-one.

Burns holed putts over the next two holes to avoid falling further behind and Rahm chipped in from off the 10th green to salvage an unlikely par, with Europe then moving ahead with a birdie at the par-four next.

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USA fell four behind when they conceded Europe’s eagle putt at the 12th, with Rahm securing the point when he lagged his birdie attempt at the 15th to within tap-in range.

“I’ve had a good feeling about Tyrrell [Hatton] all along,” Rahm said. “Last time we played together it really felt good, and it was good to come out here and perform the way we did. It’s an incredible foursomes match and we played as confident as two people can play, and it was a beautiful one.”

A Jon Rahm putt gave Team Europe a 1-0 lead at the Ryder Cup as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton in a 4&3 victory against Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in Rome

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A Jon Rahm putt gave Team Europe a 1-0 lead at the Ryder Cup as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton in a 4&3 victory against Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in Rome

A Jon Rahm putt gave Team Europe a 1-0 lead at the Ryder Cup as he partnered Tyrrell Hatton in a 4&3 victory against Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in Rome

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg beat Max Homa and Brian Harman 4&3

Hovland made the perfect start when he pitched in for birdie at the first and converted a 15-foot par to also win the second, before bouncing back from losing the next two holes by claiming the fifth and sixth with pars.

Åberg slotted in a 15-foot birdie at the ninth to reach the turn three ahead and Hovland matched Homa’s birdie at the 11th, with securing another birdie at the 14th before the Scandinavian pair seasoned their victory on the next hole.

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg confirm a 4&3 win over Max Homa and Brian Harman to put Team Europe 2-0 up in the Ryder Cup

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Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg confirm a 4&3 win over Max Homa and Brian Harman to put Team Europe 2-0 up in the Ryder Cup

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg confirm a 4&3 win over Max Homa and Brian Harman to put Team Europe 2-0 up in the Ryder Cup

Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka beat Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa 2&1

A stunning approach into the third from Lowry set up the first of back-to-back birdies, with Europe responding to Straka putting his tee shot into the water at the fifth by winning three consecutive holes from the seventh.

Lowry sent his tee shot into the water to lose the 10th and Fowler holed a long-range birdie at the 13th to cut Europe’s advantage to two, only for USA to bogey the next and the hosts to seal the win when Straka holed from close-range at the 17th.

Sepp Straka holes a putt to seal a 2&1 win over Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa putting Team Europe three ahead

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Sepp Straka holes a putt to seal a 2&1 win over Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa putting Team Europe three ahead

Sepp Straka holes a putt to seal a 2&1 win over Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa putting Team Europe three ahead

“Obviously it’s early days but I wanted to give Sepp [Straka] his moment in the Ryder Cup to hole the winning putt,” Lowry said. “It’s huge. We are off to a great start this morning. We need to keep the foot down. Very happy out there with him and enjoyed myself.”

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood beat Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay 2&1

McIlroy slotted in a seven-foot birdie at the fourth and edged further ahead with a par at the eighth after Cantlay found water with his approach, only for Team USA to win the ninth and reach the turn one behind.

Europe took the 11th with a conceded birdie, then cancelled out Schauffele’s birdie at the 14th by taking a momentum-changing win at the 15th.

Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy went two-up with three to play in their foursomes against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay with an impressive par putt on the 15th green

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Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy went two-up with three to play in their foursomes against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay with an impressive par putt on the 15th green

Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy went two-up with three to play in their foursomes against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay with an impressive par putt on the 15th green

Fleetwood holed his 20-foot putt for par, which took the hole when Schauffele missed from four feet, with McIlroy responding to losing the 16th by firing his tee shot at the next to inside three feet and setting up the birdie.

“It has been an unbelievable session,” McIlroy said. “We switched the format this year to go foursomes first because statistically that’s our better session. And all week, all we’ve been talking about is getting off to fast starts. We were ready to go from the first tee shot as obviously as you can see in how everyone played.”

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood discuss what their plan was heading into the first session of Day One at the Ryder Cup as their 2&1 win over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay puts Team Europe four ahead

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Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood discuss what their plan was heading into the first session of Day One at the Ryder Cup as their 2&1 win over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay puts Team Europe four ahead

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood discuss what their plan was heading into the first session of Day One at the Ryder Cup as their 2&1 win over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay puts Team Europe four ahead

What’s next?

Hovland and Hatton lead out Europe in the afternoon foursomes against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, with Rahm partnering Nicolai Hojgaard against Scheffler and five-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose start their week against Homa and Clark, with McIlroy joining Matt Fitzpatrick in the last match to play Morikawa and Schauffele.

Day two coverage has the same timings as Friday, with the opening foursomes tee shot at 6.35am and the afternoon fourballs sessions getting under way at 11.25am. Coverage of the final day singles begins on Sunday at 9am ahead of the first match going out at the 10.35am.

Watch the Ryder Cup exclusively live this week on Sky Sports! Live coverage from day two begins on Saturday from 6am, ahead of the first tee time at 6.35am. Stream the Ryder Cup and more for £21 a month for six months with NOW.

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Ryder Cup: Rory McIlroy believes LIV players will miss being involved with Team Europe in Rome

Team Europe looking to regain the Ryder Cup after their record-breaking 19-9 loss in 2021; Five of Europe’s line-up in Whistling Straits have since joined LIV Golf and won’t feature this week in Rome; Watch live on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 27/09/23 10:06am


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Rory McIlroy say its ‘certainly strange’ not having Ryder Cup veterans Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter around and it’ll really hit them this week.

Rory McIlroy say its ‘certainly strange’ not having Ryder Cup veterans Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter around and it’ll really hit them this week.

Rory McIlroy believes the Ryder Cup stalwarts who joined LIV Golf will miss representing Team Europe more than their absence is felt this week, although admits it’s “strange” not having them in Rome.

Five of Europe’s line-up heavily beaten at Whistling Straits in 2021 have since joined the LIV Golf League, with record points scorer Sergio Garcia and stalwarts Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood all having no role in this year’s contest at Marco Simone Golf Club.

The likes of Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson – all vice-captains in past Ryder Cups – have all also joined LIV since its launch last summer, with McIlroy believing that this week’s event could make those who moved to the Saudi-backed circuit realise the consequences of their decision.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at the best shots from his six appearances in the competition.

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As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at the best shots from his six appearances in the competition.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at the best shots from his six appearances in the competition.

“It’s certainly a little strange not having them around,” McIlroy admitted in his pre-tournament press conference. “But I think this week of all weeks, it’s going to hit home with them that they are not here.

“I think they are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them, so it’s just more I think this week is a realisation that the decision that they made has led to not being a part of this week, and that’s tough.

Rory McIlroy receives the biggest cheer as the players head out on to the course at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club for practice ahead of the Ryder Cup.

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Rory McIlroy receives the biggest cheer as the players head out on to the course at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club for practice ahead of the Ryder Cup.

Rory McIlroy receives the biggest cheer as the players head out on to the course at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club for practice ahead of the Ryder Cup.

“The landscape in golf is ever-changing and more dynamic, and we’ll see what happens and whether they will be part of it in the future. I always thought leading up to this week is when it’s going to hit home that they are not going to be here.”

Garcia enquired earlier this month about paying outstanding DP World Tour fines in an attempt to represent Europe this week, although it was irrelevant as the Spaniard – along with Westwood and Poulter – were ineligible because of withdrawing their DP World Tour membership earlier in the year.

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Europe have four rookies in their team this year and three more playing their first Ryder Cup on home soil, leaving McIlroy and Justin Rose as the most experienced in the line-up, although the four-time major champion is excited with the potential of Luke Donald’s side.

“Everyone knows this is a bit of a transitional period for the European Team and there’s people that have been part of The European Team for a long time that aren’t here this week,” McIlroy added.

US Open champion Wyndham Clark explains comments he made where he said he was better than Rory McIlroy saying that every player needs the mindset that they are the best to be ale to succeed in golf.

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US Open champion Wyndham Clark explains comments he made where he said he was better than Rory McIlroy saying that every player needs the mindset that they are the best to be ale to succeed in golf.

US Open champion Wyndham Clark explains comments he made where he said he was better than Rory McIlroy saying that every player needs the mindset that they are the best to be ale to succeed in golf.

“I think the guys that we brought in are going to be awesome. Nicolai [Hojgaard], Ludwig [Åberg], Bob [MacIntyre], that’s the future of our team and the future of the Ryder Cup.”

Rose: Team Europe in ‘transitional period’

Rose makes his seventh Ryder Cup appearance, having missed out on a place in Padraig Harrington’s side two years ago, with the Englishman believing this week can go a long way in building the future of Team Europe.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at Justin Rose's best shots from his previous five Ryder Cup appearances.

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As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at Justin Rose’s best shots from his previous five Ryder Cup appearances.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at Justin Rose’s best shots from his previous five Ryder Cup appearances.

“There’s a lot of winning culture still in the team, with the people in and around the team, the captain and the vice captains,” Rose said. “Luke [Donald] has got an incredible Ryder Cup record, the most winning from a percentage point of view, so the winning culture in our team is as strong as ever.”

“I think that when you look at…our team room, [Paul] McGinley, Thomas Björn, like I say, José Maria [Olazabal], we had Monty [Colin Montgomerie] in there, just people that are still connected to the European team, and I would say invested in the European team.

Rory McIlroy says he has no issues with fans heckling players at the Ryder Cup, describing it as 'part of' the tournament.

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Rory McIlroy says he has no issues with fans heckling players at the Ryder Cup, describing it as ‘part of’ the tournament.

Rory McIlroy says he has no issues with fans heckling players at the Ryder Cup, describing it as ‘part of’ the tournament.

“There’s still a lot of winning culture around what we do. So obviously in life and in business and everything, there’s obviously transition phases where you need to look to new leaders and what would be great is if you can kind of slip through that period of transition unaffected.

“You start to look to the next generation obviously to come through and to start to kind of have that winning culture. That could happen as early as this year. You start to get the rookies off to a good start this year at home, and suddenly you start to blood some of the future with positive experiences.

Team Europe Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald gives us a behind the scenes look at their team space at the Marco Simone Golf course.

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Team Europe Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald gives us a behind the scenes look at their team space at the Marco Simone Golf course.

Team Europe Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald gives us a behind the scenes look at their team space at the Marco Simone Golf course.

“Maybe the transition has started last time around at Whistling Straits and now we’re coming through that already. But yeah, there is a difference.

“Obviously, Westy [Westwood], Poults [Poulter] – as captains or vice-captains or however they may or may not be involved in the future – they do have a lot to offer, of course, from experiences and that point of view.”

Live coverage from the opening day of the Ryder Cup begins on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf. There’s also live content each day in the build-up to the tournament. Stream the PGA Tour, DP Tour, Ryder Cup and more with NOW.

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