Giteau, Ashley-Cooper join former Wallabies selling rugby to Los Angeles


Says Ashley-Cooper, 37, who played 121 Tests: “It means a lot to the local guys, and the supporters who come and watch, they’re very patriotic. But ‘Gits’ is right: it’s different.”

As rugby slowly wrestles its way out of years of drudgery on these shores, a handful of Australians are building a club from the ground up in the City of Angels.

Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper at the new $6 billion SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.Credit:Getty

They’re taking on teams in New York and Utah and Atlanta, training on AstroTurf next to the LA Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo, riding electric bikes back home along the Strand at Manhattan Beach, doing school visits in Compton, watching Steve-O of Jackass fame light the cauldron before home matches and letting Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger into the dressing-room to sing happy birthday to one of the players.

As you do.

“It’s been a wild ride,” says Adam Freier, the former Wallaby who left Rugby Australia as its head of marketing and digital to become the club’s general manager.

The Giltinis are the brainchild of Adam Gilchrist, not the former cricketer but brains trust behind the F45 Training behemoth. He has a deep love of rugby. The Giltinis brand is a play on his name.

“I think a Giltini is just a double-sized martini,” Giteau explains.

Ashley-Cooper and Giteau warm up at Wallabies training in 2011.

Ashley-Cooper and Giteau warm up at Wallabies training in 2011.Credit:Steve Christo

Or, in other words, Australian-sized.

Their coach is Darren Coleman, a legend of club rugby in Sydney who is being courted by the Waratahs, although the Giltinis are trying to convince him to stay with a three-year extension. His assistant is Stephen Hoiles, another former Wallaby.

The squad is a mixture of professionals from around the world alongside local amateurs. Former Tahs captain Dave Dennis and Rebels centre Billy Meakes play alongside the likes of Randwick’s Christian Poidevin, son of Wallaby great Simon, and Nathan den Hoedt, who captained the Galloping Greens last year.

Giteau sits at the back of the room in video sessions, taking notes and still learning after all these years, then talks to Cristian Rodriguez, a utility back from the tough streets of nearby Hawaiian Gardens.

“The boys are great,” Giteau says. “They’re willing to learn and are keen about rugby.”

COVID-19 grounded the competition last year but since its restart this season the Giltinis are flying, leading the competition with six wins and just one loss, which came last weekend against New York in New York.

The match was played on a concrete-hard pitch. The players changed in a tent.

This weekend, though, they literally go from the outhouse to the penthouse when they play at the $6 billion SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, the new home of the LA Chargers and LA Rams and venue of next year’s Super Bowl.

Only 5000 will be allowed into the 70,000-seat stadium but it marks the first time a crowd has been allowed into SoFi because of COVID-19.

“It’s a bucket list item I never thought I’d be ticking off,” Giteau says.

He’s in LA after receiving a call last year from Ashley-Cooper, who after the 2019 World Cup started thinking about the next phase of his life post-football until Gilchrist enticed him to join his other MLR franchise, the Austin Gilgronis.

When Gilchrist told Ashley-Cooper he could join his second franchise in LA instead, Ashley-Cooper called his old Wallabies teammate, who had just spent three years playing in Japan.

“Are you interested?” Ashley-Cooper asked.

Matt Giteau is tackled by Apisai Naikatini of Old Glory DC in the MLR.

Matt Giteau is tackled by Apisai Naikatini of Old Glory DC in the MLR.Credit:Getty

“I’m done, mate,” Giteau said. “I want to get home and spend some time focusing on the next chapter.”

Says Giteau now: “I thought playing Toulon in France for 18 months in 2011 would be the end of my career. We stayed there for five years, thought that was it, then I went to Japan, thought that was it, then this came up. I’m very grateful because it’s been refreshing.”

Freier became involved after a chance meeting at the LA Sevens in February last year after he had taken his young family to Disneyland for his 40th birthday.

He was introduced to Matt Burgess, who worked for Gilchrist’s Loyals Rugby.

Freier thrived working alongside innovative coaches like Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika, then interim RA boss Rob Clarke. Looking for a change, he packed his bags, flipped his hat backwards, slipped on his Vans and headed for the bright lights of LA.

Then the COVID-19 crisis struck.

“We were setting up a new sporting team in the sporting capital of the world, in the toughest sporting market on earth, during a pandemic, which then made LA the COVID capital of the world,” Freier says. “LA was locked down, you couldn’t fly out of Australia, European players had to quarantine for two weeks in other countries.

“We couldn’t train in LA. You weren’t even allowed to have four people in the one room. We went to Maui for a camp, then we went to Oxnard, where the Dallas Cowboys train, but now we’re in LA and sitting on top of the ladder. Nothing has gone to plan – but everything seems to be working out.”

The Giltinis’ clubhouse is a converted factory complete with an indoor field and basketball court with an enormous American flag hanging on the wall. Street art adorns the locker-room.

Once a week, players and staff wear the kit of their favourite US team.

“It’s a modern-day version of 21 Jump Street,” Freier jokes before adding: “We’re militant in the way we train and work, but we do things differently because it makes the players happy.”

Gilchrist, who is media shy and declined a request for interview, has ambitions to take on Super Rugby teams, although the standard isn’t quite there — yet.

It’s best described as stronger than Shute Shield but not as strong as Super Rugby. Closer to NRC.

“It’s a decent competition,” Ashley-Cooper insists. “I certainly didn’t expect it to be this physical. You’re up against blokes with a lot of athleticism, some really big bodies who want to bash people. It’s been quite challenging for a 37-year-old with a dad’s bod after 12-month COVID break.”

Adam Ashley-Cooper made his professional rugby debut in 2005 for the Brumbies.

Adam Ashley-Cooper made his professional rugby debut in 2005 for the Brumbies.Credit:Getty

The Giltinis have already established themselves as the entertainers, scoring 44 tries in seven matches.

That helps when you’re selling a niche sport to a city that has two NBA teams, two NFL teams, two MLB teams and one ice hockey side.

Some matches are broadcast on CBS but most of it is streamed live on The Rugby Network, which is known for its hilarious commentary.

Powerful Texan-born winger John Ryberg is often described as “The Quadricep with Eyeballs”. Whenever Ashley-Cooper touches the ball, the callers report, “He’s been playing since the days of the fax machine.”

The crowd at games is in the low thousands but growing as “rugbytainment”, as Gilchrist calls it, starts to gain traction. So far, the crowd is mostly young fathers bringing their children to matches and students.

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There was a rumour going round that Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg was going to lend the team his private jet if it won the comp. Freier says it’s not right.

“But ‘Hass’ [Freier] did promise me celebrities when I signed,” Giteau laughs. “It was in the contract.”

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American Airpower Museum to join Jones Beach Air Show  – Long Island Business News


The American Airpower Museum will once again join the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park on Memorial Day Weekend. 

The museum’s famed “Arsenal of Warbirds” will include a B-25 Mitchell Bomber, Douglas C-47 Skytrain troop transporter, Grumman TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber, Curtiss P-40 Flying Tiger, P-51D Mustang Fighter, AT-6 Texan Warbird and AT28D5 Nomad Vietnam Era Fighter. 

However, visitors won’t have to go to Jones Beach to get a taste of the vintage aircraft. Visitors to the museum’s hangar at Republic Airport will be able to watch these aircraft start their engines, take off and perform some fly-bys before heading for the beach during the mornings of Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30. 

In addition, the museum will welcome three visiting U.S. Navy EF/A-18 Super Hornets from May 27 through May 30.  The supersonic combat jets are not in the Jones Beach Air Show, but they will be on display at the museums complex at Republic. 

The Jones Beach show, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is returning after being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the show, which will have new ticketing with reduced capacity and social-distancing measures in place to keep viewers at the beach safe. 

American Airpower Museum founder Jeff Clyman said the goal for the museum’s four-day salute is two-fold. 

“To honor the men and women of the Greatest Generation who built, maintained and piloted the iconic warbirds of yesteryear in a bold defense of freedom during World War II, as well as active-duty military, national guard and reservists who continue this mission and command the skies in advanced supersonic jet aircraft to our present day.” 

Admission to the museum is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and veterans and $8 for children from ages 5 to 12.  Tickets and pre-registration is not required and admission is on a first-come-first-serve basis.



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F1 2021, Spanish Grand Prix: Oscar Piastri wants to join Daniel Ricciardo in the top flight next year


Australian motorsport sensation Oscar Piastri has declared his intention to join Daniel Ricciardo in Formula One as soon as next year.

The 20-year-old from Melbourne is the reigning Formula 3 world champion and has set his eyes on taking out the Formula 2 championship this year.

Being managed and mentored by Australian racing great Mark Webber, Piastri said his ambitions to spend two years racing on the second tier had changed.

A race victory in the opening round of the Formula 2 season has emboldened Piastri, who is fourth in the driver standings, to chase his Formula one dream sooner.

“I think I’m definitely going to be pushing to try and get there next year,” Piastri said.

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Four family-run orchards join with foreign investors in huge Goulburn Valley deal


Four family-owned orchard businesses in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley are merging into one company with the backing of foreign investment. 

A Canadian fund, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which manages more than $200 billion in assets around the world, has used its Australian subsidiary, AustOn Corporation, to invest in the merged entity — which will be called Pomona Valley.

The family-run orchard businesses involved are the Varapodio family’s Oakmoor Orchards, Turnbull Brothers Orchards, Pickworth Orchards and the Hall family’s Chatswood Farm.

All are located west of Shepparton at Ardmona, Tatura, Mooroopna and Toolamba and include more than 500 hectares of orchard, water rights, additional land and two packing-house operations. 

The size of AustOn’s investment has not been disclosed but the deal is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval. 

The new company will be massive. 

“It’s probably in the top 10 of horticultural fruit-growing businesses in Australia,” orchardist Peter Hall said.

He said exports would be at the heart of the Pomona Valley business. 

“We think it’s a great mix of high-quality, high-class orchards with some patient money from a co-investment with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.”

The four family businesses are famous names in Goulburn Valley fruit growing and have competed against each other for much of their history. 

“We’ve been working on this for about three years.”

The fruit deal is not the Canadian pension fund’s first foray into Australian agriculture. 

AustOn paid more than $100 million for two almond orchards in the Robinvale area last year and also owns part of avocado grower Jasper Farms in Western Australia. 

Chief executive officer Tim Lee said in a statement that AustOn was proud to be partnering with local farming families and supporting their shared vision for the future of the horticulture sector.

Mr Hall said he was proud to have helped bring the investment to the Shepparton region. 

“It’s also a signal to people that one of the most successful superannuation funds in the world has looked at the Goulburn Valley and said that is a great place to grow fruit.”  

The company will begin operation on July 1 with Rocky Varapodio as general manager. 

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It’s time to invite more people to join clinical trials


A young person undergoing chemotherapy

Clinical trials participants tend to be younger, healthier people. More inclusive criteria are needed.Credit: BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty

It took Patty Spears, a resident of North Carolina, three attempts to be allowed to participate in a clinical trial for a cancer vaccine to reduce the likelihood that her breast cancer would recur. For the first two trials that she applied for, Spears didn’t meet the eligibility criteria — strict guidelines that determine who can participate in a trial. These criteria tend to favour younger, healthier people. Even the third time around, Spears was nearly ruled out because her white blood cell count was barely above the study’s minimum requirement.

That was more than 20 years ago. Today, Spears is a patient advocate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Along with individuals at other organizations, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US National Cancer Institute, she is part of an effort that aims to expand eligibility for cancer clinical trials. They want more participants to find trials, and more trials to find participants.

The testing of therapies on a wider cohort of participants can increase the safety and efficacy of treatments, especially for those under-represented by medical research, such as older people and those from minority groups. For the funders and organizers of clinical trials, admitting a greater diversity of people potentially means more people taking part in trials. That could mean some trials get concluded more quickly — an important consideration, given that many clinical trials fail to meet their planned timeline for enrolling a full set of participants — and at lower cost.

The effort to expand eligibility is crucial. But it needs more support from funders and regulators around the world. Attempts to gain this support could be helped by the accumulating evidence — including a study published this month in Nature — showing the benefits of allowing more people to participate in clinical trials.

Exclusions apply

Most clinical trials have a list of eligibility criteria that must be met before a participant can enrol. These requirements vary from trial to trial and can be designated by investigators, study sponsors and, when they are involved in study design, patient groups. Criteria are devised to protect the safety of participants, so trials might exclude people who are unwell, older or pregnant. Exclusion criteria might also yield ‘clean’ data — that is, data on people who are more like each other. But it also means that trial participants are less representative of patients — who come in all ages and have a spectrum of health conditions.

Too often, the requirements are selected simply because the list of exclusion criteria has become a template, carried forwards without scrutiny from one trial to the next. Restricting eligibility in this way can disproportionately affect groups that are already under-represented in medical research. For example, in the United States, diabetes is more common among Black people than white people, and can lead to reduced kidney function. As a result, trials that exclude people with reduced kidney function could disproportionately exclude Black participants.

A more systematic, scientific approach to crafting eligibility criteria could help. In a study published in Nature on 7 April, researchers studied the electronic medical records of more than 60,000 people in the United States with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer1. The team compared the survival outcomes of people who had participated in clinical trials of drugs for this type of cancer2 and people who would have been excluded from participating in clinical trials but who had taken the same drugs outside the studies. The results showed that if a more-diverse group of people had been allowed to take part in the trials, the overall survival outcomes would have been almost the same — but that the pool of eligible trial participants would have more than doubled.

In a separate study, pharmacologist Donald Harvey at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, also showed that the widening of eligibility criteria is beneficial to trials for non-small-cell lung cancer drugs. According to data presented at a 9 April meeting held by Friends of Cancer Research, a think tank and advocacy group in Washington DC, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, allowing people with cancers and those with impaired kidney function to take part in trials increased the proportion of participants aged 75 or older from 16% to 22%. This is important, because the majority of people with cancer are older, yet older people with cancer are under-represented in clinical trials.

These studies follow the publication in March of a fresh set of recommendations from the two organizations. Both have been working to re-evaluate commonly used eligibility criteria since 20163. They are recommending guidelines for making science-based decisions about whether people who are taking or have recently taken other medications should be enrolled in studies. Now that clinical-trial investigators, researchers and funders are taking the first steps towards changing standard practice, regulators must show support. In 2020, the FDA issued guidance to clinical-trial designers regarding criteria such as HIV status and the presence of brain metastases.

This is impressive progress, but it is time for the effort to broaden its reach — beyond cancer and beyond the United States. Explicit endorsement from other regulators and trial sponsors could propel the movement internationally, and further analyses of electronic medical records could help to establish which requirements should be kept and which are superfluous for studies of various conditions. Together, these changes could foster trials that are faster and more meaningful for the patients they are ultimately meant to serve.

Widening the criteria for trial participation will take a concerted international effort from investigators, trial sponsors and drug regulators. A more systematic approach, driven by data and greater involvement of patient groups, can and should be used to select participants — not only for cancer clinical trials, but also for studies for other diseases.

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Harry and Meghan demand world leaders share vaccines to ‘restore faith in humanity’ amid calls for Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to give reserves to India – as couple prepare to join J.Lo and Selena Gomez at star-studded ‘VaxLive’ concert



Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today announced themselves ‘campaign chairs’ of an A-list event called ‘VaxLive’, where they will demand world leaders including Joe Biden and Boris Johnson ‘share’ vaccines’, especially with India.

‘Vax Live’: The Concert to Reunite the World, organised by Global Canada Citizen and hosted by star Selena Gomez, will be held virtually at the beginning of May, with the Sussexes saying it will ‘restore faith in humanity’ by celebrating the hope provided by vaccines. 

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 39, will be joined by an A-List line up, with appearances from the couple’s close friend Gayle King, as well as Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Nomzamo Mbatha, Olivia Munn and Sean Penn. 

The announcement coincides with demands for President Biden to hand over all of America’s 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to India as part of a global drive to help fight the world’s most devastating coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, the US announced that 60 million doses of the so-far unapproved vaccine will be made available to send abroad, once the doses are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Downing Street today rejected a similar move today, with Boris Johnson’s Official Spokesman saying ‘we don’t have surplus doses’ and the focus will remain on the rollout of jabs in the UK.  

India is facing a second wave of the deadly virus, with a million new cases in just three days. For the past two weeks, medical facilities have been running out of oxygen and ICU beds, with some patients dying as they wait outside hospitals. 

The Sussexes said in a statement today: ‘Over the past year, our world has experienced pain, loss and struggle – together. Now we need to recover and heal – together. We can’t leave anyone behind. 

‘We will all benefit, we will all be safer, when everyone everywhere has equal access to the vaccine. 

‘We must pursue equitable vaccine distribution, and in that, restore faith in our common humanity. This mission couldn’t be more critical or important.’  

A description of the concert online reads: ‘We are calling on world leaders to step up to make sure vaccines are accessible for all so we can end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere.’

It will also feature performances from the likes of Jennifer Lopez Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin and H.E.R, leveraging the Sussexes wide network of celebrity friends. 

Global Citizen describes itself as a movement of ‘engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030’. 

Its website states: ‘Global Citizens learn about the systemic causes of extreme poverty, take action on those issues, and earn rewards for their actions — as part of a global community committed to lasting change.’

‘Their mission is to build a movement of 100M action-taking Global Citizens to help achieve our vision of ending extreme poverty by 2030.’ 

The Sussexes’ announcement today comes in the midst of intense debate about the West can help India and whether this should include sharing vaccines.  

With three jabs already approved and in-use in the United States – the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines – there are already enough vaccines for all Americans. As a result, its stockpile of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is likely to go unused.

Last week, some of India’s major newspapers accused the US of vaccine nationalism after a State Department spokesperson said the US needed its temporary export ban on vaccines because ‘not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated; it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated.’

The Biden administration has also come under fire from Americans of Indian heritage, and from others around the world, who say Washington is ‘hoarding’ the British-developed vaccine that it is yet to approve as India – a country of almost 1.4 billion people – is overwhelmed by Covid-19.

‘We have to be strategic and responsible,’ said South Bay Congressman Ro Khanna, who argues the US should send its unused AstraZeneca vaccines to India.

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European Super League: Premier League’s ‘big six’ agree to join new league


Liverpool and Manchester United are the two most successful sides in English football history

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham are among 12 clubs who have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL).

In a seismic move for European football, the Premier League clubs will join AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.

The ESL said the founding clubs had agreed to establish a “new midweek competition” with teams continuing to “compete in their respective national leagues”.

It said the inaugural season was “intended to commence as soon as practicable” and “anticipated that a further three clubs” would join the breakaway.

The ESL said it also planned to launch a women’s competition as soon as possible after the men’s tournament starts.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Uefa and the Premier League condemned the move when the news broke on Sunday.

Critics say the move is being driven purely by money, would destroy domestic leagues and is against the integrity of the sport.

World governing body Fifa had previously said it would not recognise such a competition, and any players involved could be denied the chance to play at a World Cup.

Uefa, Europe’s governing body, reiterated that warning on Sunday when it said players involved would be banned from all other competitions at domestic, European or world level and could be prevented from representing their national teams.

After the ESL was announced, Fifa expressed its “disapproval” of the proposed competition and called on “all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game”.

The ESL has sent a letter to Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Uefa boss Aleksander Ceferin issuing notice of legal proceedings in European courts designed to block any sanctions the two governing bodies may try enforce over the formation of the ESL.

In a statement, the ESL said: “Going forward, the founding clubs look forward to holding discussions with Uefa and Fifa to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new league and for football as a whole.”

Why now?

There were talks in October, involving Wall Street bank JP Morgan, over a new £4.6bn competition that would replace the Champions League.

Uefa had hoped the plans for a new 36-team Champions League – with reforms set to be confirmed on Monday – would head off the formation of a Super League.

However, the 12 sides involved in the Super League do not think the reforms go far enough.

They said the global pandemic had “accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model”.

“In recent months, extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions,” they added.

“The founding clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.”

What is the proposed format?

The league will have 20 teams – the 12 founding members plus the three unnamed clubs they expect to join soon, and five sides who qualify annually according to their domestic achievements.

Under the proposals, the ESL campaign would start in August each year, with midweek fixtures, and the clubs would be split into two groups of 10, playing each other home and away.

The top three in each group would qualify for the quarter-finals, with the teams in fourth and fifth playing a two-legged play-off for the two remaining spots.

From then on, it would have the same two-leg knockout format used in the Champions League before a single-leg final in May at a neutral venue.

The ESL said it would generate more money than the Champions League and would result in a greater distribution of revenue throughout the game.

What do the Super League leaders say?

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo (left) dribbles past AC Milan player Diogo Dalot (right)
Juventus and AC Milan have signed up to the breakaway league plans

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, the first chairman of the ESL, said the new competition would “help football at every level”.

“Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires,” he added.

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli has resigned from the Uefa executive committee and as chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), which had pushed the planned Champions League reforms.

He said the 12 clubs had “come together at this critical moment, enabling European competition to be transformed, putting the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long-term future”.

It is understood all 12 clubs have resigned from the ECA and their respective representatives from the ECA board.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano have also stood down from their roles at Uefa.

Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer will be a vice-chairman of the Super League.

He said: “By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.”

What has been the reaction?

Essentially, widespread condemnation from anyone not involved in the proposed league.

Johnson said the plans would be “very damaging for football” and France’s President Emmanuel Macron welcomed French clubs refusing to join.

Uefa released a joint statement with England’s Football Association, the Premier League, the Spanish Football Federation, La Liga and the Italian Football Federation, as well as Serie A, saying they would “remain united” in trying to stop the breakaway, using “all available measures”.

The ECA said it “strongly opposed” the league, while the Football Supporters’ Association said the plans were “motivated by nothing but cynical greed”.

Among ex-professionals, former Liverpool and Tottenham midfielder Danny Murphy told BBC Sport the plans “sound soulless”, former Manchester United captain Gary Neville told Sky Sports he was “absolutely disgusted”, while former team-mate Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport that the proposals will hurt fans the most.

‘The ultimate betrayal’

Fan groups associated with all six English clubs involved are strongly opposed to the Super League.

Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly (SOS) said it was “appalled” by the decision of Fenway Sports Group, the club’s US-based owner.

In a social media post, SOS said: “FSG have ignored fans in their relentless and greedy pursuit of money. Football is ours, not theirs. Our football club is ours not theirs.”

Chelsea Supporters’ Trust called the move “unforgivable” and said its members and “football supporters across the world have experienced the ultimate betrayal”.

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust called the club’s agreement to join “the death of Arsenal as a sporting institution”.

Manchester City’s Official Supporters Club said the move showed “those involved have zero regard for the game’s traditions”, adding it was “determined to fight against this proposed Super League”.

The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust had earlier said the proposals were “completely unacceptable” and the ESL “goes against everything football, and Manchester United, should stand for”.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust said the ESL was a “concept driven by avarice and self-interest at the expense of the intrinsic values of the game we hold so dear”.

Analysis

BBC Sport’s Simon Stone

If there was any lingering doubt over the desire of these 12 clubs to launch their own competition, it has been removed by their statement – reinforced by each of them through their own media platforms.

So many questions remain unanswered.

Chiefly, can they actually get their plan over the line given the strong resistance from Uefa and the leagues and associations of the countries concerned?

But beyond that, who will the other three clubs be to make up the 15 founding members? Will Bayern Munich and Paris St-Germain eventually join up? And how will the other five clubs be decided?

These discussions will be fascinating. But right now, the clubs who have signed up to the European Super League have a public relations battle to turn around perceptions – because initial reaction has been overwhelmingly negative.

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'Big Six' agree to join European Super League



Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham are among 12 clubs who have agreed to join a new European Super League.

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The Secret to Achieving Your Gym Goals? Join a Fitness Community


Are you a lone wolf in your journey to your fittest, fastest, strongest self? Many fitness enthusiasts, as well as weightlifters, runners, cyclists, and swimmers, train in solitude and work toward their goals without posting their WOD on Instagram or talking to others about it. Unfortunately, their self-imposed isolation may be hindering their progress.

“Fitness communities—whether it be boot camps, running clubs, or even just a workout partner—all positively impact participation and effort,” says Rob Bell, Ph.D., a sport psychology coach, Ironman, and ultra-marathoner who has served as a mental toughness coach for multiple winners on the PGA Tour, Olympic medalists, and at the University of Notre Dame.

In fact, one study that examined the benefits of social support on weight loss found that people who worked alone on a weight-loss program had a 76 percent completion rate—not bad, but only 24 percent of those participants maintained their weight loss. On the other hand, the participants who worked out with friends had a 95 percent completion rate, with 66 percent of them maintaining their weight loss for at least six months.[1]

Fitness communities can take many forms, including in-person and virtual options: group training sessions led by a coach, fitness classes, online communities with like-minded members (such as Bodybuilding.com), gyms catering to specific workout styles (CrossFit or Pilates), subscriptions tied to specific equipment, and programs with nutrition goals. Each one offers a different experience, and it’s crucial to find the right fit for your personality.

5 Benefits of Joining a Fitness Community

Still not sold on the idea of incorporating others into your fitness routine? Here’s more food for thought on the many perks:

1. Accountability

Remember when you were a kid and the worst thing your dad could say to you when you made a mistake was that he was “disappointed” in you? Well, you’ll be equally reluctant to disappoint your fitness community by skipping a workout.

“Knowing that others will want us there and that our absence affects the entire group forces us to be there,” explains Bell. “It’s a huge external motivator to not let others down.”

2. Self-confidence

If you aren’t familiar with the power of “modeling,” it’s the concept that seeing others do things gives us belief in ourselves—essentially, if they can do it, so can I.

“Being in the same group as others doing tough stuff enhances our own self-image and belief in ourselves because we are all in it together,” says Bell. “The self-comparison, if handled correctly, enhances our own confidence.”

3. Support

A strong fitness community can be a great support system when you need a pat on the back or a pep talk.

“Things will not always go as planned, so it’s helpful to have people to turn to in times of need,” says personal trainer Jessica Kasten, M.S., NSCA-CSCS, CPT, FRCms. “People in your community can lift you up if you’re feeling down and help you identify and solve potential problem areas you may not have seen on your own.”

4. Intensity

People tend to train harder when working in a group setting or with another person due to what’s called the Köhler motivation gain effect.[2]

“Basically, no one in class wants to appear to be the weak one, so they will push harder than they would on their own,” says Kasten. It’s an ideal way to gain a competitive edge and push yourself harder.

A group performing planks.

5. Knowledge

Fitness communities can be great resources for learning more about whatever fitness niche you are passionate about.

“When people engage in a community, they can share ideas and learning materials, see what is working for other people with whom they share a common goal, ask each other questions, and more,” says Kasten. “It can be a great way to get new workout ideas, share recipes, or learn about a new way of doing things.”

Also, It’s All in Your Head

Another reason that fitness communities are valuable and motivating is that they make your brain happy by triggering the release of neurotransmitters.[3]

“Exercise induces endorphins, which can cause people to experience a sense of euphoria and also reduce the perception of physical pain,” says Kasten, referring to the phenomenon often called a “runner’s high.” “Endorphins can also generate a sense of closeness and bonding. People who work out together and experience an endorphin rush together can develop a sense of trust with one another and feel closer after the workout. This experience can help bring people together and create new friendships.”

Aside from endorphins, Bell says there are two other hormones at play: oxytocin, the chemical that drives us to be around people we like and trust, and serotonin, which supports a sense of pride.

How to Find a Community with the Right Vibe

While there’s no shortage of fitness communities out there, it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

“Like any relationship, it can take some trial and error,” says Kasten. “You may have to kiss a few frogs before you find ‘the one,’ but if you are seeking a new fitness community, you will know when you have found your home.”

Look for a group that makes you feel good about yourself, lifts you up instead of bringing you down, is happy to help, encourages healthy competition, and ultimately makes you feel like you are part of the team.

A crossfit gym.

Not sure where to start? BodySpace is a free social fitness platform and—at 2.7 million members—is the largest online fitness community. It’s a digital place to share your struggles, showcase your successes and progress pics, and interact with a network of millions of people all focused on becoming their best selves. Plus, it’s full of tools to help with your transformation based on your goals, and pairs well with the BodyFit app, which contains 2,500 expert-created workouts. The Forums are also free, and categorized by topic (such as supplements, female bodybuilding, contest prep, and workout equipment). And Bodybuilding.com’s social media communities are incredibly active—join the conversations on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

References
  1. Wing, R. R., and Jeffrey, R. W. (1999). Benefits of recruiting participants with friends and increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(1), 132-8.
  2. Kerr, N. L, & Hertel, G. (2011). The Kohler group motivation gain: how to motivate the “weak links” in a group. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5(11), 43-56.
  3. Plante, T. G., et al (2001). Does exercising with another enhance the stress-reducing benefits of exercise? International Journal of Stress Management, 8(3), 201-13.



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