'Can't afford a slow start' - Samoa sevens coach Gordon Tietjens on World Cup chances

Former New Zealand men's sevens coach Gordon Tietjens believes one lapse in judgement can prove costly for his Samoan side at Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco.

Tietjens said his Samoa sevens team need to be perfect in their execution to reach the finals.

"There are no second chances in this format, you lose one and you are out," said Tietjens.

"You can't afford to start slowly, it's really important that we get off to a really good start".

Tietjens says the Pacific nation has struggled a lot on the world circuit since their 2009 World Series win.

"Probably two things really, the lack of resource you know they haven't got the facilities like in New Zealand and we haven't got the depth either," said Tietjens.

"And we are trying to build depth particularly on the island, to get them to play the pace of the game that needs to be played in on the World Series."

Samoa finished 10th on the World Series tournament this year.

"The physicality has always been there with Samoa that’s one of the real strength of theirs but it is the pace of the game and building depth – those are the areas that we need to get better at."

Tietjens coached the New Zealand men’s sevens side from 1994-2016.

Every game of the men's and women's Rugby World Cup Sevens will be live from July 21-23 on TVNZ's Duke channel - Freeview 13, Sky 23, and streaming on tvnz.co.nz.

Samoa begins their campaign against Uganda tomorrow in San Francisco. Source: 1 NEWS

Rowdy Tour de France fans tarnish Britain's Geraint Thomas' stage 12 win

One of cycling's big attractions is that fans don't have to pay to watch — and they can get as close as they want to the riders.

The sport paid for that unlimited access today when unruly spectators interrupted the most iconic climb of the Tour de France.

With fans pressing too close to an elite group of riders at the conclusion of the 21 hairpin bends up to Alpe d'Huez, top contender Vincenzo Nibali crashed into a police motorbike and later withdrew from the race, four-time champion Chris Froome received some undesired contact on his back, and yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas was booed on the podium.

"If people don't like Sky and want to boo, that's fine. Boo all you like, but don't affect the race," Thomas said.

"Don't touch the riders. Don't spit at us. Voice your opinions all you want but let us do the racing."

Attitudes toward Sky soured when Froome was involved in an asthma drug case stemming from last year's Spanish Vuelta — even though he was cleared of wrongdoing just days before the Tour started.

Froome is attempting to match the record of five Tour victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Thomas sprinted away from Sky teammate Froome and a couple of other riders to win Stage 12, becoming the first rider in Tour history to win atop Huez in the yellow jersey.

Lance Armstrong won an individual time trial up Huez in 2004 while wearing yellow but that victory was later stripped for doping.

"Unbelievable. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would win up here," Thomas said. "It's one of those things that's going to stay with me for the rest of my life."

But Thomas acknowledged that Nibali's crash took some of the luster away from his victory.

Thomas rode over Nibali's rear wheel — when the Italian went down — but managed to stay upright. Nibali, the 2014 champion got back up but finished seventh in the stage, then was taken to the local hospital for medical tests for a suspected back injury.

"He should have been fighting for victory," Thomas said of Nibali. "It's a bit of a downer on the day."

Nibali said: "The road became narrower and there were no barriers. There were two police motorbikes. When Froome accelerated, I followed him, I was feeling good. Then we slowed down and I hit the ground."

Nibali was diagnosed with a fractured vertebra and the Bahrain-Merida rider later tweeted that he was withdrawing from the Tour.

Tom Dumoulin crossed second, two seconds behind Thomas, and Romain Bardet came third, three seconds back.

Froome, who finished fourth, four seconds behind, refused to talk to reporters afterward. A fan who allegedly hit him during the stage was put in handcuffs by French police.

"You expect professional athletes to play sport and entertain without being touched or impacted on by the crowd," Sky general manager Dave Brailsford said. "Part of the joy of our sport is how close the crowd gets. But we have to bear in mind that if it impacts on the race, as it did with Nibali today, then that's too much."

Thomas extended his lead over Froome in the overall standings to 1 minute, 39 seconds. He'll likely hold on to the yellow jersey for at least several more days as the Tour returns to flatter roads for Stages 13 and 14 before the climbs resume in the Massif Central and the Pyrenees.

With questions over which rider Sky is backing for victory, it was a bold demonstration of strength by Thomas, who has been Froome's loyal lieutenant for years.

"In my eyes Froomey is still our leader," Thomas said. "I'm just going to enjoy it now."

Colombia's Egan Arley Bernal Gomez, Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Britain's Chris Froome climb alpe d'huez during the twelfth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 175.5 kilometers (109 miles) with start in Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs and Alpe d'Huez, France, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Colombia's Egan Arley Bernal Gomez, Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Britain's Chris Froome climb alpe d'huez during the twelfth stage of the Tour de France. Source: Associated Press



Watch: Dillian Whyte calls Joseph Parker 'coward' to his face, says he 'let down' NZ and family

Dillian Whyte clearly tried to get under the skin of Kiwi heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker, calling into question his "warrior spirit" after his unanimous loss to world champion boxer Anthony Joshua.

The pair will face off next Sunday 29 July (NZ Time) at London's 02 Arena.

The British boxer criticised Parker in their 'Gloves are off' interview saying he was running in his unification bout with Joshua in Wales in April, where Joshua ended up walking away with the Kiwi's WBO heavyweight title.

"He had his whole country over doing the haka, doing this and doing that and then he let them down," said Whyte.

"He didn't show the warrior spirit or warrior courage that I expected from him, from where he is from.

"He never showed that tribal instinct and that warrior instinct."

Whyte went on to say that Parker disappointed his family and country.

"You're desperate now, you let your family down and you let your country down."

Parker told his opponent that the fight helped his family.

"I didn't let anyone down I am set for life," said Parker.

The 30-year-old Englishman egged Parker on to come forward in their bout in London.

"Just don't be a coward in the fight and come and fight," said Whyte.

"Who is the coward?" asked Parker.

"You," responded Whyte.

"A coward is a person who calls someone a coward," said the Kiwi fighter.

Whyte fired back straight away with a comeback of his own.

"That is nonsense a coward is someone who doesn't show courage who needs to show courage."

"Well who got knocked out?" asked Parker, referring to the 2015 loss where Whyte was knocked out in the seventh round by Joshua.

"Because I wasn't a coward that's why, you were a coward that's why you didn't want to get knocked out and take chances," explained Whyte.

Parker and Whyte share similar professional records with the Kiwi winning 24 fights with only one loss, with Whyte winning 23 professional bouts with one loss to Joshua.

Parker is ranked sixth in the WBC, the title which American fighter Wilder holds. He is also ranked sixth in the WBO and seventh in the IBF, titles which both Joshua holds.

Whyte is ranked number one in the WBC, seventh in the WBA, another title which Joshua holds and second in the WBO.

The pair will face off next Sunday (NZ time) at London's 02 Arena.