The last time South Africa lost all their autumn Tests they at least went down swinging.
Sometimes sport is at its most tense when it is at its most still – in those micro‑lulls before world title fights as the protagonists coil in their corners, awaiting the bell, and adrenaline and testosterone races through the crowd like white water; between the purse of a referee’s lips and the first step in a shootout; before the starter’s pistol shatters the hush of an Olympic 100m final; and, yes, when the world chess champion is hunched over the board, brain scurrying back and forth through innumerable tunnels of calculation looking for a clear path to victory.
Odd little memories stand out crystal clear from the great mêlée of Saturday’s match, which was otherwise one long blur of flying bodies, boots and balls, reset scrums, rolling substitutions, red and yellow cards.
One more rose-tinted victory against Australia on Saturday will make this, statistically, the most impressive calendar year in English rugby history.
José Mourinho is facing a third touchline ban in little more than a year after being sent to the stands for the third time in 20 Premier League matches during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Crystal Palace co-owners will need to see evidence that Alan Pardew is willing to make radical changes to his own approach and to gauge the players’ reaction in training this week before determining whether he still has a future as manager of the ailing London club.
Crystal Palace are braced to be without their player of the year, Wilfried Zaha, for up to five weeks in the new year after the twice-capped England international expressed his intention to declare for Ivory Coast before the Africa Cup of Nations.
Arsenal right-back suffers yet another injury.
Victor Anichebe flew to Los Angeles in May and spent the next three months soaking up the California sunshine. The 28-year-old striker had just been released by West Bromwich Albion after what can politely be put as an unproductive, non‑scoring season under Tony Pulis and Premier League clubs were not exactly queuing up for his services.
Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool have “nothing to moan about” after Southampton followed Manchester United’s lead by adopting a defensive approach against a side who have scored 30 Premier League goals this season.
Once he had caught his breath, Mauricio Pochettino suggested the sensations that had arisen so suddenly needed to be kept and held close.