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July 2, 2017

Sport Sunday: All Black and blue

The English and Irish Lions  of Rugby continue their tour of New Zealand where they are facing off against the famed All Blacks in various locales.  Readers of this space will remember our mention a few weeks ago that the All Blacks had not lost on New Zealand soil since, like, the invention of Rugby or something.  Well, lose they have, at Wellington.  It was their first defeat on home turf in 48 tests, 8 years, and even then quite rare. Their coach, Steve Hansen, was so moved by the last that he declared "losing sucks."  He is entitled, I guess, having lost for the first time at home in 2,849 days.

The world champion All Blacks were beaten 24-21 by the British and Irish Lions on Saturday evening.  They lost without the aid of a star player, Sonny Bill Williams, who was ejected after a shoulder charge against a Lion's player.  He was the first All Black to be ejected from a game in 50 years, and after facing a jury, has been suspended for four matches. 

The Lions had not bested the All Blacks in any competition since 1993, and had lost the first game 30-15.  If they win again, they have a shot of their first series win in New Zealand since the early 1970s.  That game, the third and last, will be held  at Auckland's Eden Park next Saturday.  The All Blacks have not lost there since 1994.

In Germany/Belgium, the Tour de France continues with a second stage, which leaves Dusseldorf, Germany, to arrive at Liege in Belgium, a 203 km jaunt which stops short of entering Holland, and bypasses the Ardennes, at least for today. 

The opening time trial yesterday was an exciting event, both in the close competition until the end, and the many falls by cyclists, who were cycling on drenched pavement which was as slick as ice.  Even those who came to aid fallen cyclists had to be careful not to charge too hard.  Several of this year's teams showed off their new team kit in the characteristic skin suits of the time trial.  Tragically, Movistar's popular rider Alejandro Valverde crashed out of the Tour with a broken knee.  At 37 years of age, this may be hard to come back from.  Sky's Geraint Thomas took Saturday's stage. 

Stage two promises more excitement, on mostly flat roads, attractive to breakaway riders looking to make a name for themselves.   

Tennis: Coming up this week:  Wimbledon!  

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