This NBA season has produced plenty of eye-popping box scores, but some of the most talked about stat lines recently have been the ones filled with zeroes and marked by a controversial note: Did Not Play-rest.On March 11, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr opted to keep his core players — Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala — out of his team’s marquee matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, citing a desire to protect his players’ health after Golden State’s 11,000 miles of travel over the preceding 13 days. One week later, the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tyronn Lue, held out LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love from the team’s own nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Those benchings apparently did not sit well with the NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, who sent team owners a memo saying that the coaching practice of resting healthy players is an “extremely significant issue” for the league. And Silver’s comments didn’t sit well with James: “I don’t understand why it’s become a problem now, because I sit out a couple games?”James is right: NBA players have been getting extra days off for years. But lately teams are embracing rest more than they ever have before, perhaps because coaches are convinced that giving a player a night off here and there can help a team come playoff time. If you’re looking for someone to credit or blame for the recent popularity of this philosophy, look no further than San Antonio. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the guru of rest. Mike BudenholzerHawks1919 NBA players who have missed the most games because of rest Gregg PopovichSpurs61113 Paul PierceCeltics, Nets, Wizards, Clippers14 PLAYERTEAMGAMES MISSED FOR REST Rajon RondoCeltics, Kings, Mavericks16 Tim DuncanSpurs38 Tyronn LueCavaliers1515 Brett Brown76ers1515 Mike BrownCavaliers, Lakers—16 Dwane CaseyRaptors1919 Rick CarlisleMavericks3241 Doc RiversCeltics, Clippers2245 Tony ParkerSpurs17 Since 2006,1In our data set, the first instance of a rest notation is from a Phoenix Suns game on April 14, 2006. there have been 609 instances of a player missing a game because he was resting, according to a query of over 50,000 injury reports from Pro Sports Transactions Archive, a database containing NBA transactions dating back to the 1940s.2For all NBA games available in the archive, we queried injury reports for descriptions that included the word “rest.” In an email, the archive’s curator, Frank Marousek, said this would return “most (if not all) of the rest games” in the archive, whose injury data is drawn from internet sources, including media reports, as well as league and team contacts. Popovich has been responsible for 113 of those 609 games missed by healthy players — more than twice as many as any other coach — and even twice as many as any other franchise. (All the data in this piece is current through March 16 of this year.) And his influence has bled into the rest of the league, with many of his former coaching assistants (Mike Budenholzer, Mike Brown, Brett Brown) and former players (Steve Kerr) becoming some of the most enthusiastic adopters of the DNP-rest once they became head coaches for other teams.Popovich was also the first coach to unexpectedly rest four key players in the thick of the regular season for a nationally televised game — a strategy for which the Spurs were fined $250,000 by the league in 2012. His decision to send home Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Tony Parker before a November game against the Heat was the prototype for the prime-time no-shows that have echoed through the league in recent weeks.Popovich has defended his approach to player rest. “It’s a trade-off,” he said earlier this month. “You want to see this guy in this one game? Or do you want to see him for three more years in his career? And do you want to see him in the playoffs because he didn’t get hurt because maybe he got rest?”It’s unclear if regular-season rest really can prevent playoff injuries, but that hasn’t stopped Popovich from trying. In the 2013-14 season, Pop strategically managed the workload of his 30-something star trio, choosing to rest Duncan, Ginobili and Parker 10 times combined over the course of the season. Duncan, in particular, was given ample opportunities to relax. The Ageless One skipped a game each month in November, December, March and April and had two games off in February. Later that year, the Spurs beat the Heat to win the championship in part because James suffered through painful cramps during his fourth consecutive playoff run to the finals after a 2,900-minute regular season. Duncan, Ginobili and Parker, meanwhile, poured it on during the series, playing an extra 3.9, 5.9, and 5.8 minutes per game, respectively, than they did during the regular season. It’s impossible to say what role the extra rest played — but it couldn’t have hurt.Like his rivals, James has been taking the occasional day off for years, but until recently, 90 percent of his rest days came in April, during the final two weeks of the season — including three games in the last week of the 2011-12 Heat campaign. But during the past two seasons, the Cavaliers have taken a page out of Popovich’s book and embraced a near Duncan-esque rest program for LeBron. During Cleveland’s championship run last season, James skipped at least one game in each of December, February, March and April. This season, he’s missed games in November, December and March, with more rest likely leading up to the playoffs.As a result, James finds himself rocketing up the all-time “DNP-rest” list for NBA players. Predictably, the Spurs’ Big Three hold prominent positions on the list. But with Duncan (No. 1) and his longtime foe Kevin Garnett (No. 3) resting comfortably in retirement, James is in position to eventually overtake the top spot.3Teams’ injury descriptions are taken at face value. In the case of Joel Embiid, for instance, another team might have chosen a different description for his injury, but the Sixers listed it as “rest.” Dwyane WadeHeat, Bulls12 Joel Embiid76ers11 George KarlNuggets, Kings1826 Kevin GarnettCeltics, Nets, Timberwolves23 Steve KerrWarriors1919 LeBron JamesCavaliers, Heat19 Source: Pro Sports Transactions Archive Manu GinobiliSpurs26 LeBron’s recent increase in games missed for rest is emblematic of broader league-wide trends. Each season, the number of games missed to rest is increasing, and the timing of the missed games is shifting earlier and earlier into the season. Coaches who have rested players the most Source: Pro Sports Transactions Archive Mike WoodsonHawks, Knicks—16 Dirk NowitzkiMavericks12 BENCHINGS ATTRIBUTED TO REST COACHTEAMLAST 3 SEASONSTOTAL From 2005-06 to 2010-11, the overwhelming majority of games missed for rest were in April — at the very end of the season. In 2011-12, as a result of a lockout-condensed schedule, teams started resting players in January, February and March. (I looked into why there was such a dip in 2012-13, and there wasn’t a clear explanation.4The number of total injury entries in the Pro Sports Transactions Archive for 2012-13 is comparable to other nearby years, so there’s no reason to think there were data reporting problems for that season.) More recently, the tendency has been to rest players even earlier — like, in October. From 2005-06 to 2007-08, only teams that were in position to make the playoffs5I.e., teams that ranked among the top eight in their conference’s standings at the time of the DNP-rest — meaning they would make the playoffs if the season ended that day — as opposed to teams that ranked ninth or worse. rested players. Since then, the practice has spread — teams outside the playoff picture have accounted for 36 percent of the games missed for rest so far this season. But it’s the rest decisions of contenders that make headlines and invite controversy. Consider the outcome of the two ambitious rest campaigns discussed above — Duncan’s in 2013-14 and James’s in 2015-16 — both were rewarded with the NBA championship. Compare that to the Warriors’s meltdown in last year’s finals after they spurned rest in the regular season and hard-charged their way to the all-time single-season win record. For teams with serious championship aspirations, the motivation for rest is clear. It’s likely going to take more than a strongly worded memo from the league office to convince them otherwise.
3Wagner Seahawks2-4 TEAMRECORD One of the greatest turnarounds in college athletics is occurring in the media capital of the world, and you probably haven’t heard about it.1Unless you follow Twitter.com/ForecasterEnten. The Columbia Lions football squad sits at 4-0 and on top of the Ivy League heading into homecoming against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers on Saturday. To say its undefeated start is shocking would be an understatement.Just three years ago, I wrote that Columbia was taking part in the worst college football game of the year. The 0-8 Lions were hosting the 0-8 Cornell Big Red in Upper Manhattan. Columbia would lose that game 30-27 and finish the year 0-10. That season was part of a 24-game losing streak, which one might call a baby version of the Lions’ 44-game losing streak in the 1980s.Indeed, Columbia hasn’t won more than four games in a season in more than a decade and hasn’t had a winning season since 1996. In fact, there have only been three seasons since 1982 when the Lions finished .500 or better:Perhaps the strangest thing about what’s happening at the top of Manhattan is this: Columbia is arguably the best college or pro football team in New York City right now. The Giants are 0-5, the Jets are 3-2 (talk about weird), and all the other college teams that play in the five boroughs have worse records. (Though being the best college football team in New York City is like being the most accurate Stormtrooper.) 2New York Jets*3-2 *Technically not New York CitySource: ESPN So how the heck did the constant losers turn it around and make this Lions fan2I went to every home game from 1994 to 2000 and still attend at least one game a year. very happy? It all started when the school hired former Quaker head coach Al Bagnoli in 2015. The team has progressed incrementally since then, and a look at the stats reveals that Columbia has improved in nearly every facet since entering the game against the Big Red three years ago. Simply put, the Lions are scoring a lot more points than they did then. Heading into that game against Cornell, they were dead last (out of 121 teams) in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) with just 8.6 points per game. They had scored more than 7 points only once. But through four games this year, the Lions have scored at least 17 points every game and have put up an average of 30.3 points per game. That ranks 35th out of 123 teams.The main cause of the offensive explosion has been an improvement in the passing game. Three years ago, Columbia ranked 52nd with 221.6 passing yards per game (YPG). This year the Lions have jumped to 21st with 276.8 YPG, thanks in part to the strong play of senior quarterback Anders Hill. Of course, as I pointed out in 2014, Columbia was always so far behind that year that they needed to pass pretty much all the time. In passing efficiency — which takes into account completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown rate and interception rate — Columbia has jumped from 120th to 21st.Although the rushing game hasn’t improved anywhere near as much as the passing game, Columbia has shown it can move the ball on the ground. Heading into their 2014 game against Cornell, the Lions averaged just 51.3 rushing YPG. Again, that was dead last. This year, they’re up to 68th place with 136.0 YPG. As anyone who has ever watched football can tell you, the ability to both pass and run the ball gives you a better opportunity to fool the defense and score more points.On the other side of the field, the Lions put one of the worst defenses in the country on the field just three years ago. They were giving up an average of 273.8 rushing YPG (120th worst in the FCS) and 246.9 YPG (100th worst). It’s tough to win football games when you can stop neither the run nor the pass.This year, Columbia is doing a good job of stopping both. The Lions are giving up only 121.8 rushing YPG (32nd least in the FCS) and 194.8 passing YPG (39th least). In total defense (which combines both of these), Columbia ranks 26th for the least yards by giving up 316.5 YPG. That has allowed them to give up the 17th least points per game overall at just 17.3.The Lions have also excelled at special teams, where their kicking, punting and return games have all improved dramatically.3Three years ago, Columbia made just two field goals in its first eight games and was ranked 111th and 75th in average yards per kickoff and punt return, respectively. This season, the Lions have already made three field goals in four games, and are ranked 23rd in yards per kickoff return (with 23.27) and 13th in yards per punt return (with 13.00). And they have a point differential average of +13.0 points per game, which is 16th best in the country. That’s 44.2 points better per game than when they had a -31.2 point differential that ranked 118th when heading into their game against Cornell in 2014.So can this streak continue?Columbia’s season is not even halfway to completion. The rest of the games are against Ivy League opponents, which will help to determine whether Columbia wins its first league title since 1961.The team has had a little luck on its side. The Lions seem to be doing a little better on third down than their overall offensive and defensive ranking. Such success usually reverts to the mean. I’d also be worried about the fact that they rank 92nd in fewest penalty yards per game. Older Columbia fans may remember that a pivotal Marcellus Wiley penalty hurt the team dearly in its unsuccessful bid for a perfect season in 1996.Even so, Columbia is off to an impressive start. It’s been strong in all facets of the game — offense, defense and special teams. Other New York area football teams (OK, mainly the Giants) could only dream of doing so well. Bizarro New YorkCollege and pro football programs in New York City as of Oct. 13, 2017 5New York Giants*0-5 4Fordham Rams1-5 1Columbia Lions4-0
2002CBrazilTurkeyChinaCosta Rica1750-51.8 1994DArgentinaGreeceNigeriaBulgaria1757-43.6 Powerhouse France, coming off a loss in the finals of the 2016 European Championship to Portugal, will be looking to move through and claim its second ever World Cup trophy. Peru owns a 47 percent chance to make its second-ever knockout stage appearance and first since being defeated by Pelé’s Brazil in Mexico in 1970. Group B is projected to be the strongest in the tournament, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, and will be headlined by an early game between old rivals Portugal and Spain, which will face off for just the second time at a World Cup. The Iberian Peninsula neighbors met for the first time in 2010, when the Spaniards won 1-0 on their way to the country’s first ever World Cup victory. And the duo could meet again on the grandest stage of them all: They have the highest combined chance of making the final of any two teams in the same group. 2018ASaudi ArabiaEgyptRussiaUruguay1720-97.8 2010FParaguayItalySlovakiaNew Zealand1713-66.9 Luck of the draw?The easiest groups in expanded World Cup history based on the difference between average Elo rating of group and the average of the tournament, 1986-2018 YEARGROUPTEAM 1TEAM 2TEAM 3TEAM 4AVG. ELO RATINGDIFF. FROM TOURNAMENT AVG. 2006HSaudi ArabiaTunisiaUkraineSpain1744-44.7 2014HAlgeriaBelgiumSouth KoreaRussia1734-92.0 1998BAustriaCameroonChileItaly1747-52.3 2002BParaguaySouth AfricaSpainSlovenia1749-53.0 Belgium and England will be extremely pleased with how the draw turned out for them, as they’re combined chances of making it out of the group stages are the highest of any two teams in the same group. What’s more, they don’t play each other until the final round of group-stage matches, so depending on how they fare against Tunisia and Panama, the Belgians and English could have already qualified by the time they meet. Before the World Cup draw on Friday, there was reason to suspect that Russia would get off easy. As the host country, it was slotted into Pot 1, which made it impossible for them to be grouped with a powerhouse like Brazil or Germany. But it looks like the Russians also had a little luck on their side. In fact, by one metric, Russia’s Group A is the weakest group in modern World Cup history.Based on Elo ratings — a measure of a team’s quality that takes into account factors such margin of victory, game importance and game location — Russia’s group with Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia has an average rating of 1720, which is 98 points worse than the average of all World Cup teams. That’s the largest gap between group strength and the World Cup average for any group in the World Cup since the expansion to the modern format in 1986.1With group play and a 16-team knockout tournament; 24 teams from 1986 to 1994 and then 32 from 1998 onward. 1986BBelgiumMexicoIraqParaguay1757-45.0 Using Elo averages, no group in this next World Cup cracks the top 10 most difficult since 1986, but all are obviously tougher than Group A. Here’s a look at which teams should advance from each: The Russians avoided a whammy each time a pingpong ball was selected. After Uruguay joined them as the group’s Pot 2 team — Uruguay is middle of the pack, with an 1849 Elo rating — things really started going Russia’s way. Egypt, which has the second-weakest Elo of any team in Pot 3, was drawn, and the group was rounded out with Saudi Arabia, which has the lowest Elo in the field of 32. Compared with all of the potential ways Russia’s draw could have played out, its group ended up being among the easiest 2.2 percent of all possible combinations, according to the average Elo rating of its members.(Of course, this is even better news for Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, because they get to face Russia — the worst Pot 1 team by a wide margin — in addition to one another.)While Group A is the easiest when compared to the 2018 World Cup field, it actually doesn’t hold the claim for lowest raw score among all groups since 1986. That distinction belongs to Group F in 2010, which featured the defending champion Italy, Slovakia, Paraguay and New Zealand. No team from this group would make it past the quarterfinals.That said, Russia should stroll into the knockout stage. Indeed, FiveThirtyEight is giving Russia a 74 percent chance of advancing that far, with Uruguay followed closely behind with a 72 percent chance of reaching the knockouts. After scraping through the qualifying stages, Argentina is the clear favorite in Group D, with a 74 percent chance of advancing. But all eyes will be on Iceland, which famously beat England in the 2016 Euros on their way to the quarterfinals, to see if the country of just 330,000 people can go on another magical run. And they may be ready to shock the world again: Iceland’s chance of advancing to the knockout stage is just 33 percent, which will likely become even smaller after they face the Argentines in its first game. 2006GFranceSwitzerlandSouth KoreaTogo1732-57.2 Group F is in the mix for being this tournament’s “Group of Death” as reigning champions Germany will be joined by Mexico and Sweden. The Mexicans’ and Swedes’ qualifying chances are separated by just 3 percentage points, which is the smallest difference of any teams drawn out of Pots 2 and 3 in the same group. Rounding out the group is South Korea, which famously made it all the way to the semifinals in 2002, when they co-hosted the tournament, and currently have the third-worst SPI rating of any team traveling to Russia. The prize for second place in Group F? A possible date with Brazil in the Round of 16. Good luck. After its heartbreaking 7-1 defeat by Germany in front of its home fans in the 2014 World Cup semifinals, Brazil will be out for revenge in Russia. The way the tournament’s bracket is set up, Brazil and Germany could be on a collision course to meet in the final if they both win their respective groups. As it stands, Brazil and Germany have the highest and third-highest chances of making the final in 2018. The Polish could be the most likely team from Pot 1 to fail to qualify for the knockout stage, as they currently have the second-lowest SPI rating of any team from Pot 1. They’ll be joined by Colombia and Japan, which have a 70 percent and 49 percent chance of advancing to the knockout stage, respectively. This means that Group H is the only group that has three teams with at least a 49 percent chance of making it out of the group stage. With the Colombians ranked the ninth-best team in the tournament and the Japanese being the highest-ranked team of any from Pot 4, Poland faces one of the toughest tests of teams from Pot 1.Additional contributions from Neil Paine and Dean Strachan.CORRECTION (Dec. 4, 10:50 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Colombia’s and Japan’s chances of making it to the knockout stage of the 2018 World Cup were 2 percentage points apart. Poland’s and Japan’s are 2 percentage points apart.
The Ohio State women’s rowing team competes on May 30, 2015 at the NCAA qualifying round in Gold River, Calif. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsAs the Ohio State rowing team looks ahead to going after an unprecedented fourth straight national championship in 2016, the squad is working hard to prepare itself and stay focused on the season ahead.“It’s kind of an indescribable feeling because at the end, you all realize how much work you all put in for this moment,” junior MaryClare Stannard said.The team captured its third consecutive championship last year, becoming the first in NCAA history to do so.“When we won, I was just so happy for everyone in the boat and on the the team,” junior Casey Schaffer said.There is a lot of buzz surrounding the team and the possibility of repeating yet again, and everyone involved in the program knows it.“We try to stay humble, and we gotta make sure there’s no cutting corners,” Stannard said.Assistant coaches Madeline Davis and Anna Goodale take a similar viewpoint in focusing on the now.“I tell them ‘one stroke at a time,’ because you will not get better if you skip over and not pay attention to what’s right in front of you,” Goodale said.Davis added that the team’s main focus has to be improving, even after reaching the pinnacle three years in a row.“At every opportunity you have to take a step forward, take it,” Davis said.Both Davis and Goodale have professional experience in rowing, having competed on the U.S. women’s national team.Goodale, the newest addition to the coaching staff, was a member of the women’s eight team that won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.The women’s eight team, which is a team in rowing that has eight members in the boat, with four oars on either side for propulsion and a rudder manned by a coxswain, is the group which took home the individual championship for OSU.The team works hard to keep focused through a culture of camaraderie.“We are honestly a family,” Schaffer said. “I’ve never been a part of such an empowering group of young female athletes.”Stannard agreed that it is a very close-knit group.“We feed off of each other as teammates,” Stannard said. “We can’t do it without each other.”The 2016 schedule has yet to be released, but the season is set to begin in late March.
Michigan redshirt senior quarterback Jake Rudock (15) during a game against Penn State on Nov. 21 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe Ohio State football team lost its first game of the season against then-No. 9 Michigan State last week. But for the Buckeyes, the going is only getting more tough, as they are set to travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on archrival Michigan (9-2, 6-1) on Saturday. Under the direction of first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines have solidified their place back in the discussion as an elite program. After finishing just 5-7 a year ago, Harbaugh has changed the culture and turned the Wolverines into one of biggest surprises in college football this season. Here is a look at Harbaugh’s squad.Hot Peppers Coming out of high school, Jabrill Peppers was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country. Peppers, a consensus top-five player, eventually chose to take his many talents to Ann Arbor, but his freshman season was cut short after being injured in September. He appeared in just three games, which allowed him to pick up a medical redshirt. Now, the New Jersey native is healthy and showing why college coaches around the nation did everything in their power to get him on their teams. Although he is technically going to start at safety, that is just a label. It doesn’t restrict him.On defense, he will play nearly everything except defensive lineman. In a base package, he plays as the strong safety, but the former state champion in the 100-meter dash will become a cornerback in the nickel. When defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin sends out the dime package in passing situations, Peppers often will slide over and play linebacker to have extra speed on the field. He’s fourth on the team with 40 total tackles, 5.5 of which have been for a loss, and second in pass breakups with 10. When Michigan’s defense gets a stop on third down — which is often, evidenced by the team ranking second in the country in third-down percentage (.232) — Peppers doesn’t leave the field. Instead, he drops back to return punts. On the season, he is averaging 11.4 yards per return, with a long of 41. Now, increasingly more often, Peppers won’t leave the field after he handles his return duties. To take further advantage of his skillset, Harbaugh has begun to play the redshirt freshman on offense, like Charles Woodson did for the Wolverines during his tenure. Peppers has gotten handoffs out of the backfield and taken direct snaps out of the wildcat while also splitting out wide to catch passes. He doesn’t always touch the ball when he lines up on offense, but the possibility of him getting it requires defenses to know where No. 5 is at all times. In total, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Peppers has 17 offensive touches for 97 yards and two scores. His offensive snaps have increased as the season has progressed, so expect Harbaugh to use him often against the Buckeyes. Incredibly, Peppers is fourth on the team in all-purpose yards with 514. Coaches often talk about players that impact the game in more ways than one. Peppers is the gold-standard of that mantra.Expect him to be all over the field making plays during Saturday’s game. The defense is suffocatingOSU’s offense got smothered by Michigan State’s defense last week. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they’re going to be going up against an even better defense on Saturday. Michigan’s defense ranks second in the country in total defense, allowing just 263.1 yards per game. The Wolverines are allowing just 100.2 yards rushing per contest, while Peppers and the secondary are surrendering only 163 yards through the air. Both marks are good for fourth in the nation. The success in shutting down opponents starts with the defensive line. Senior defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow had been anchoring the unit, but he was lost for the season against Rutgers. Despite the loss, junior Maurice Hurst has filled in nicely at nose tackle. Flanking him on both sides are seniors Willie Henry and Chris Wormley.The trio does an incredible job occupying blockers, creating opportunities for the linebacking corps to crowd the line of scrimmage and pile up tackles. Two linebackers — senior Joe Bolden and redshirt senior Desmond Morgan — lead the Wolverines in tackles with 67 and 64, respectively. When teams get the ball on the perimeter, like Utah did against Michigan in the season opener, the linebackers get exposed a little bit because they’re not necessarily elite athletes. They’re an instinctive, hard-nose group, but that is their one weakness. Alongside Peppers in the secondary, juniors Chandler Stribbling, a physical 6-foot-2 cornerback, and Jourdan Lewis, are fundamentally sound. Durkin, who was a graduate assistant at Bowling Green under OSU coach Urban Meyer from 2001-02, will be creative in his blitz and coverage packages to try and confuse the Buckeye offense. The Scarlet and Gray offense will be motivated to get back its high-powered ways, but to do so, it will have to navigate its way past the talented Wolverine defense. Trending upFrom the season opener to now, the Michigan offense is different like night and day.The unit started slow, but as redshirt senior Jake Rudock, a graduate transfer from Iowa in his first year with the program, started to become more confident in Harbaugh’s scheme, the offense started to click. After scoring just 17 points against Utah in Week 1, the Wolverines have not scored fewer than 23 points in any game. Michigan, arguably, has the most talented group of pass catchers that OSU has faced at any point this season. Redshirt junior wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson — who have combined for 1160 receiving yards and 12 scores — will test the Buckeyes’ secondary with their top-end speed and precise route running. Complementing the duo is 6-foot-6 junior tight end Jake Butt. The Pickerington, Ohio, native uses his size to his advantage and is one of Rudock’s favorite targets on third down. Beyond those three, a strong group consisting of senior tight end A.J. Williams, freshman wide receiver Grant Perry and junior running back De’Veon Smith provide Rudock additional hands to throw to. Smith is also the leading rusher, carrying the ball 145 times for 621 yards and six touchdowns. The Warren, Ohio, native is a serviceable player, but this Michigan offense relies heavily on Rudock’s play. But as of late, Rudock’s play has been as good as any quarterback in the Big Ten. In the past three games, he’s thrown for over 344 yards and three touchdowns per game. As long as he continues that level of play, the Michigan offense will test the OSU defense on Saturday. Beyond the Buckeyes If Michigan beats OSU, and Michigan State loses to Penn State, then the Wolverines will be traveling to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec 5. If the said scenario does not happen, then Harbaugh and his team will wait patiently for its undecided bowl game.
Tracy Sprinkle (93) lays on the field with a leg injury. He left the game following his injury during the first game of the 2016 season against Bowling Green on Sept. 3 in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 77-10. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditorWith one shove from a Bowling Green offensive lineman, the season of Ohio State redshirt junior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle took an abrupt turn on Saturday afternoon. The shove sent Sprinkle backwards, causing his right knee to buckle awkwardly inward.OSU coach Urban Meyer shared the news that many Buckeye fans feared while watching the starting defensive tackle off the field. The training staff that helped Sprinkle off the field told the coach that the injury was with his patella tendon.“It’s a surgery and a season-ending is what I’ve been told. We’ll update further as we know more,” Meyer said. “And that’s the worst part of this darned game is when a guy gets hurt, especially a guy like that who has committed so much to this team and program. Our prayers are with Tracy.”Few comeback stories are as unique as that of Sprinkle. After being dismissed from the team for off-the-field issues, Sprinkle earned his way back to the Scarlet and Gray and earned the trust of Meyer.Many held high expectations for the Elyria, Ohio, native. The OSU coaching staff spoke volumes about Sprinkle during spring drills, and ultimately rewarded his hard work with a starting role.The comradery the Buckeyes have keeps the team close, and results in a universal feeling of sorrow throughout the entire program when a player is injured. Fellow OSU defensive linemen were pleased by how the team performed on Saturday, but felt a certain level of remorse for what their teammate had went through.“He’s everything. When we think of Rushmen, ‘How She ‘Gon Eat,’ everything. That’s Tracy,” junior defensive end Jalyn Holmes said. “I hate to see him go down, but I know he will still be there in spirit and he’s going to bounce back. He will definitely bounce back.”The replacement for Sprinkle, redshirt freshman Dre’Mont Jones, did not record any tackles against Bowling Green. Jones is a former three-star prospect according to 247Sports, and will most likely be moved into the second defensive tackle position, with junior Michael Hill moving over to take over up to fill the hole left by Sprinkle.The depth of the team that Meyer has talked about for the past few months will likely be put to the test following the injury to Sprinkle. Currently on the depth chart, the Buckeyes have three defensive tackles other than Sprinkle. According to the roster, there are eight total players at the position.Replacing a starter is never an easy task for any team, but redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard knows the team is up to the challenge.“We can’t really replace a guy like Tracy, but young guys and other guys like ends gotta step up and improve their game and pick up what he left behind. But, he’s still going to be there for us,” Hubbard said. “We’ll see if we move guys around, but I’m confident in Dre’Mont Jones and Davon (Hamilton) all them to help us.”Hamilton, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle from Pickerington, Ohio, took advantage of his playing time, picking up a share of a sack with Holmes.Any changes Meyer and the rest of the OSU coaching staff make are expected to be announced later in the week.The Buckeyes will be put to the test, minus Sprinkle, on Sept. 10 at 3:30 p.m. against Tulsa in Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State football coach Everett Withers made light of the Buckeyes’ impending Big Ten Conference opener during a Monday press conference. “Big Ten week, huh?” OSU’s co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach said with a smile. Withers’ lightheartedness aside, there’s no mistaking that the No. 14 Buckeyes (4-0) know exactly what time of year it is. There’s also no mistaking whether the Buckeyes have anything to play for either – they do. The first team to oppose OSU in pursuit of the divisional title is Michigan State. In a meeting of the conference’s top-ranked teams, OSU will journey to East Lansing, Mich., to face No. 20 MSU (3-1) at Spartan Stadium. Preparation for Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer’s first-ever Big Ten tilt began Sunday with a “state of the union meeting” to address chasing the divisional crown. The goal of winning the Leaders Division half of the conference was first established for the Buckeyes during that meeting, Meyer said. “The first time we talked about (winning the Leaders Division) was (Sunday) in our team state of the union meeting we had and this is you have an opportunity to go win your side of the Big Ten,” Meyer said. Meyer chose to address winning the division because it was not discussed as a goal for any of the Buckeyes’ first four games against Miami (Ohio), Central Florida, California or Alabama Birmingham, he said. OSU redshirt senior defensive back Orhian Johnson said the team is focused on MSU. Meyer will handle the rest if the Buckeyes take care of business on the field, Johnson said. “You know, (winning the Leaders Division is) a possibility for us, but regardless of the situation, we’ve got a game,” Johnson said. “As long as we go out there and do what we do against Michigan State.” Meyer previously claimed to be unaware of OSU eligibility for the Leaders Division title, but some of his players, like redshirt receiver Jake Stoneburner, were aware. Stoneburner said the state of the union meeting was Meyer’s first mention of winning the division. The opportunity to win a piece of hardware during the 2012 season has given players added motivation, Stoneburner said. “I think he was finally saying that we have something to play for other than just going undefeated,” Stoneburner said. “We can win our division and I think it gives guys a little bit of hope, not that we didn’t have any in the first place, but it gives guys a little extra incentive.” Saturday’s meeting will be the teams’ first in East Lansing since 2008. Only two Buckeye players who are reshirt seniors – defensive end Nathan Williams and linebacker Etienne Sabino – played in that game, a 45-7 OSU victory. A visit to a ranked in-conference opponent is nothing to fear, Johnson said. It’s exactly the reason (players) come to OSU. “It’s definitely fun to get back in the Big Ten ball. I mean, that’s what you come here for,” Johnson said. “So we just want to come out there and lock in, and playing on the road is definitely fun. Just playing in a different atmosphere.” Senior fullback Zach Boren agreed, saying the competition is heightened at this time of year because every team understands what is at stake. “The Big Ten is always a new part of the season. It’s always a new chapter because, you know, this is a tough, physical conference,” Boren said. “The games start to matter that much more because you’re playing for conference championships.” That’s exactly the position OSU is in. The games matter more because OSU does indeed have something to play for, Meyer said. “Are we playing for something? You’re darned right we are,” Meyer said. “It’s really important here. Look around. Really important.” OSU and MSU are scheduled to kickoff their Saturday game at 3:30 p.m. Grant Gannon and Andrew Holleran contributed to this article.
Ohio State senior safety Damon Webb (7) celebrates a pass break-up in the third quarter of the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 2 in Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: James King II | Sports DirectorINDIANAPOLIS — “Defense wins championships” is the most overused phrase in sports. It will be used one million times or more in the coming weeks as four teams prepare for a shot at a national title.Saturday, the phrase was gospel.No. 8 Ohio State made two momentous defensive stops in the final five minutes against No. 4 Wisconsin to win its first Big Ten title since 2014, and more importantly for the Buckeyes, they have a realistic shot at earning the final spot in the College Football Playoff just vacated by the Badgers.“Their preparation this week, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a college football team prepare the way these kids did,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “I think that gave them great confidence to go execute.”Ohio State elected to kick a field goal on a fourth-and-1 with 5:20 remaining, which extended the lead to 27-21. That’s a spot where head coach Urban Meyer is notorious for rolling the dice and winning a football game by winning that 1 yard. He said after the game that it was his decision to kick the field goal and go against his traditional action of attempting the conversion.The truth was that the defense was playing too well not to have faith that it could get a stop. It did. And after another three-and-out by the Ohio State offense, the defense made the game-ending stop.Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrooke threw his second interception of the game on fourth-and-20 to Damon Webb with less than two minutes left in the game.“I just thought our defense was playing so good,” Meyer said. Let’s let that quarterback and let our defensive line do what they do best and get after that quarterback. But that was one of the toughest calls of the day.”Hornibrooke’s has the worst touchdown to interception ratio of any Power 5 conference quarterback at 21 to 15. But he wasn’t what concerned Ohio State’s defense. Big Ten freshman of the year Jonathan Taylor, who averaged more than 150 rushing yards per game entering the contest, was the main focus on defense.In response, the defensive line played one of its best games of the year by continually penetrating Wisconsin’s vaunted offensive line and stopping Taylor before he got any momentum.The running back had 15 carries for 41 yards, his lowest total in one game this season.The defense answered any challenged thrown at them, most especially when the offense failed to put away Wisconsin.Ohio State had four three-and-outs, two field goals and an interception in the second half. There was no touchdown to decisively split the Badgers from the playoff field and the ranks of the unbeaten. The defense had to do that.“I think we were super confident the whole game,” sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa said. “I don’t think there was a moment we thought we were going to lose at all.”Wisconsin could have been the team that was on the podium celebrating as the Buckeyes walked off the field without any detection and with their heads held low, for everyone’s eyes would be on the team with the shiny football and hardware hoisted in the air. Everyone in attendance would watch the players and coaches pack themselves onto a makeshift stage that looks like it should be in a town parade rather than on a football field.Instead, Ohio State celebrated. A dominant offense at times that then went cold late couldn’t put the game on ice. To win the game, it had to be done on defense.An opportunity was there for the Badgers. Ohio State left the door open after each missed chance to deliver a decisive blow, but the defense seized it when the Badgers couldn’t. That’s why Ohio State is the Big Ten champion.
The incident happened on the same day that Mr Corbyn set out his plans for a new transport strategy as he pledged to bring the nation’s railways back into public ownership.He said a Labour government would “rebuild and transform” the UK’s transport network.He insisted public ownership of the railways could raise enough money to cut rail fares by as much as 10 per cent.He also promised to give all councils the power to set up publicly run municipal bus companies. It is a sight familiar to frustrated commuters the length and breadth of the country: no seat on a packed train, forced into the space in-between carriages, sitting down outside the lavatory, trying to drink your coffee.What is less common, though, is to look up from your lowly train position and see The Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition crouched on the floor opposite you.But that was the case for passengers on the London to Newcastle on Tuesday: Jeremy Corbyn, known for his rigid principles, squashed in the corner on the floor of the train reading Private Eye with a brown paper bag and a coffee.He was on his way to Gateshead for the Labour leadership hustings with Owen Smith.In the footage, filmed by Yannis Mendez for the Guardian, Mr Corbyn explains that if he had taken the option of upgrading to first class, he would be spending his fellow passenger’s money.“Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all,” he said.“This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed. The staff are absolutely brilliant, working really hard to help everybody.“The reality is there are not enough trains, we need more of them – and they’re also incredibly expensive. Isn’t that a good case for public ownership?” Some comments on social media suggested the incident could have been a stunt: Others compared the incident to George Osborne, the former Chancellor, upgrading to first class during a 2012 journey because of a busy train: Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Just 2 pics on a train, but enough to describe the difference between @jeremycorbyn & the UK political class #JC4PM pic.twitter.com/rGTp0yPH0s— Urban Shepherd (@HassunElZafar) August 16, 2016 Just as well a cameraman was there to film Jeremy Corbyn on the train floor, or we might never had known it had happened.— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) August 16, 2016
Ahmed is no longer in contact with his brother Mo Farah, picturedCredit: WPA Pool He told The Sunday Mirror: “I can’t go back to where Mo and I were born – it is too dangerous. I’m scared I would end up dead. I feel there’s no hope for me.”He added: “I’m afraid for my life. I know I’m not going to survive out there. Everything is different. I can’t even fathom how it’s going to be. I can’t cover up my history. I’m going to be an outcast. People would attack me.”Speaking about the raid which landed him in jail, he added: “I wasn’t a horrible person. I made a hell of a mistake and now I’m paying with my life. My lifestyle was bad.”Ahmed, who lives in a flat in west London, said he was no longer in touch with his brother but said he was “proud” of what the athlete had achieved. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. I can’t go back to where Mo and I were born – it is too dangerousAhmed His younger brother Mahad called on the athlete, who became estranged from some family members after his aunt took him in, to help.He claimed he wouldn’t “have a life any more” if Ahmed was deported and added: “I don’t even want to think about life without this guy.”Mo Farah has made history after winning the “double double” – gold medals in both the 5,000m and 10,000m – at two consecutive Olympics.Fans have since called for him to be knighted. The runner will compete at the World Athletics Championships in London next year.A spokesman for the Home Office said it does not comment on individual cases.But he added: “This Government puts the rights of the British public before those of criminals, and foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them.” Mo Farah’s brother says he faces being deported from Britain to war-torn Somalia and fears he will be killed if he is forced to return.Ahmed Farah, 27, was just two years old when he was brought to Britain 25 years ago with the Olympic athlete, who was then aged eight.He has spoken about the possibility of being deported after serving a four-and-a-half year prison sentence for false imprisonment during a knife raid. Legal hearings are thought to have currently been delayed.
The charity says it is the aim of Prince William, Catherine and Prince Harry to “encourage people feel comfortable with their everyday mental well being, to feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and to stop fear preventing people getting the help they need”.Prince William has spoken publicly on several occasions about how his job as an air ambulance pilot has given him an insight into the trauma suffered by those who experience psychological problems, some of whom are driven to attempt to end their own lives.He has been called out to several suicide attempts and has made tackling the problem of male suicide – the biggest killer of men aged 20-45 – a central part of his mental health campaign. Laura Martin with her six-year-old twins Rufus and AnnaCredit:Christopher Pledger/The Telegraph The letter from Catherine, Duchess of CambridgeCredit:The Telegraph Earlier this year Prince William and Catherine spoke movingly to Jonny Benjamin, who was persuaded not to throw himself of Waterloo Bridge in 2008 by passer-by Neil Laybourn.Jonny was sectioned after being rescued on the bridge and later went on to track down Mr Laybourn, with whom he now campaigns to raise awareness of suicide.After meeting the pair at St Thomas’ Hospital, William said: “Someone told me five people a day try to kill themselves.”I was just blown away by the statistics. For both of us, the mental health piece has got lots of aspects. It’s such a big issue that we need to do something about it. We feel it’s been raised higher up the ladder. It’s suddenly bubbling just under the surface. Now we need to get up to the next level, to the surface.” Former Parachute Regiment soldier James Tattingham marrying his wife Lucy in 2008, before he developed PTSDCredit:Jay Williams/The Telegraph Laura became desperate and even contemplated harming her children.“Of course I’d never have done it in a million years,” she says. “But I hated myself for the thought.”Fortunately Laura’s GP referred her for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which helped her cope with the stress of having become a parent.“The therapist talked a lot about “good-enough” parenting and made me realise that you don’t have to be perfect,” she said. “There have been many more ups and downs along the way but each time, I’ve used CBT and techniques I’ve learnt through mindfulness courses, and I’ve grown stronger.”Laura shared her experiences with Best Beginnings, one of eight charity partners in the Heads Together campaign, as part of its drive to raise awareness of the perinatal mental health issues that affect one in five women.She also made a film for Best Beginnings about her experience, in the hope of helping women who found themselves at a similar low point.“I wish I’d had the confidence to say I was depressed,” says Laura. “It might just have saved me from all those months of dealing with it on my own.” Prince William and his wife Catherine have sent a heartfelt thank you to Telegraph readers for supporting people with mental health problems.The royal couple have made it one of their central aims to campaign and support those struggling with mental health issues, particularly children and young people.Among the charities they support is Heads Together, set up by to raise awareness about mental health issues and backed by this newspaper as part of our Christmas Appeal. Now Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, has written a letter on behalf of herself, Prince William and Prince Harry thanking our readers for their “fantastic support”.She wrote: “Telegraph readers’ support for the Heads Together campaign has been fantastic. William, Harry and I are working to change the conversation on mental health from one of stigma and fear to one of support and openness.”She added: “Your generosity will make a big difference in the lives of so many people. Thank you so much and Merry Christmas.”Heads Together was set up to campaign for an increase in the level of service and support on offer to people with mental health problems and has been selected as Charity of the Year for the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon.It brings together a number of other charities, including Mind and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, to provide vital help for people with mental health problems. The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken out in the past on the need for more help to be given to children and young people with psychiatric problems.In a video earlier this year to launch Children’s Mental Health Week she spoke the importance of being able to express their feelings openly.In the message, Catherine said that both she and Prince William feel strongly that “every child deserves to be supported through difficult times in their lives.”She added: “Through my work in areas like addiction, I have seen time and again that the roots of poor mental health in adulthood frequently stem from unresolved childhood issues. This needs to change.”How Heads Together can helpJames TattinghamFor James Tattingham the descent into mental illness began on the battlefields of Helmand Province.It was here, in July 2008, that he saw a close colleague killed and another severely injured when the Taliban attacked their convoy.The experience triggered the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that would haunt James’s life back homeIt would take a four-year struggle before he sought help and was diagnosed by charities supported by Heads Together. His wife Lucy said: “The man that left was not the man that returned. He withdrew from activities and people. He had trouble sleeping and would wake up in a cold sweat, screaming. He was always on edge, easily startled and overly alert.”Despite leaving the Army Mr Tattingham’s mental state remained precarious. He stopped playing with his children, Felix and Alistair, and stopped seeing his friends.Lucy convinced her husband to speak to a psychological well-being nurse at the veterans’ charity Help For Heroes, and spend a fortnight at the charity’s respite home Tedworth House, Salisbury.Doctors referred James to Combat Stress, the mental health charity, who confirmed his PTSD.“I felt relieved, but I still didn’t want other people to know. I didn’t want them to think I was weak,” he said.In 2013 the Tattinghams moved near Tedworth House to use the gym and talk to the counsellors. With their help his condition is improving and he is able to look after the children while Lucy works.“I’ve come a long way now from where I was,” says Mr Tattingham. “Since Help For Heroes has helped me I haven’t looked back. It’s been a rough journey, but if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”Laura MartinWhen Laura Martin became pregnant with twins after IVF treatment she was, quite simply, “thrilled”.But as the pregnancy progressed she found herself increasingly anxious, prone to tears and unable to cope.Things seemed to improve when Anna and Rufus were born. She bonded with them and felt her life was back under control. But it didn’t last.When she started weaning the babies it “knocked me completely”. She says: “I felt more isolated than ever because I had even less time to get outside and see people, and I was losing confidence.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Parts of the country are being cut off from their historical military links as the Ministry of Defence ends funding to a string of Army regimental museums, it has been warned.More than a dozen museums are set to lose their money in April as the MoD scales back funds used to pay for curators and staff.Several of the museums have already closed their doors in advance and moved to share premises with other regiments. Others are hoping to stay open by raising money elsewhere. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. We are losing our footprint around the country sadly and we are losing our roots in areas where we might have recruited quite heavily in the pastDoug Beattie Brig Allan Mallinson, a military historian and former commander of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars, said military history was slipping away in parts of the country. His regiment, amalgamated into the Light Dragoons in 1992, has now had to close its museum near Barnsley, and move into its sister museum in Newcastle.He said: “That of course has meant that we have lost any permanent footprint in a major part of our recruitment area.”He went on: “What the impact is, it’s very, very difficult to say, but we know that the MoD and others place a high value on direct links with traditional recruiting areas.”“In other areas of the heritage industry, localism plays a strong role. There are any number of museums around the country to local industrial history and local art. It seems odd that we are prepared to see local military history slip away.”The loss of links with local areas comes as the Army is more than 3,000 regular soldiers undermanned and struggling to hit its recruiting targets.Doug Beattie, a former officer with the Royal Irish Regiment and now a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said: “We are losing our footprint around the country sadly and we are losing our roots in areas where we might have recruited quite heavily in the past.”Col Richard Kemp, formerly of the Royal Anglian Regiment, said the closure of barracks, bases and museums meant many parts of the country were losing their ties with the Armed Forces.He said: “I think it’s detrimental in terms of local people understanding what the forces are doing for them, but I think also to an extent it could impact recruiting.”An MoD spokeswoman said: “We recognise the important contribution made by these museums in preserving military heritage and acting as the bridge between communities and the Army.“This is why, irrespective of funding, they will continue to receive support and have close ties with their associated regiment.” Military figures said the cuts risked robbing parts of the country of links to their historic local regiments.They come as part of a long agreed MoD plan to reduce the number of Army museums it funds from 67 to 36 by the end of next decade. By then the MoD will fund only one museum for each of the current British Army regiments.Other collections commemorating historic regiments which amalgamated in recent decades to form modern day units will have to find other ways of staying open. But the MoD funding cut comes as many museums face a double blow by losing local government grants because of deep austerity cuts to council budgets.There are also fears the next round of MoD funding cuts to museums, when more are due to lose their money in 2030 will now be brought forward because of Treasury pressure on the MoD to make savings.
A poem left for the victims On Monday, the family of 32-year-old web entrepreneur James McMullan found he was almost certainly dead after the police notified them his bank card was found on one of the bodies of the victims. A tribute to James McMullan She thanked the emergency services for doing their utmost to protect Londoners from the “deranged and deluded individuals” who took seven lives, noting that the police would not be able to formally identify her brother until the coroner completes his report over the next day or two.In a tragic twist, Miss McMullan told the Telegraph that it had been her brother’s first night out for months, as he celebrated the completion of business project to which he had dedicated every waking hour for two years.Their father, Simon McMullan, 61, vowed to continue the work on his “exceptional” son’s e-learning business.He said: “At this point in time the subject is too raw.”I’m just going to try to keep the business that he was doing alive. He was on the verge of signing his first contract, a $1.5 million deal.” “It was somehow peaceful with all the mayhem around me. It’s what James loved about London. How vibrant and diverse it was and it excited him to know that no 2 days would ever be the same.”I lit these candles last night in memory of all 7 angels. If you see them please keep them burning for them for us.”Thank you to everyone who has been to pay their respects and to the lovely people that approached me last night. She wrote on Facebook the morning after the tragic news: “Hi everyone, we just wanted thank everyone for all the lovely messages, phone calls and posts about the recent incident.”I am slowly getting through all of them and will reply to every single one of you as soon as I can. My parents are finding comfort in all the love and support that we have received over the last few days. Our thoughts are still with the other families also waiting for answers.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Melissa’s message to her brotherCredit:Facebook The sister of London Bridge terror attack victim James McMullan has visited the tributes members of the public have left to her brother outside the Barrowboy and Banker, where he was killed.Pictures Melissa McMullan posted on Facebook show she has read many of the tributes, including a touching poem, left to her brother and other victims of the attack.Ms McMullan also laid tributes from the family to her brother. She wrote: “This is us. Forever. Love you eternally. You finally get to lay your head. Your baby sis, Melissa”.She wrote on Facebook: “Last night I went back to London Bridge to be close to my James McMullan. I felt drained and I knew he would give me the strength I needed to continue. Despite her indisputable anguish, Miss McMullan, 30, said: “While our pain will never diminish it is important for us to all to carry on with our lives in direct opposition to those who would try to destroy us, and to remember that hatred is the refuge of small-minded individuals and will only breed more.”This is not a course we will follow, despite our loss.” “I read as many of the lovely messages left opposite the burrowboy and banker as I could get to. Thank you to the person who wrote the wonderful poem. It really touched my heart.” Melissa is comforted outside the tributes for her brother Mr McMullan from Hackney, east London had not been seen since he stepped outside the Barrowboy and Banker on Borough High Street, where had had been drinking with old school friends. Five minutes later, the terrorists ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge before crashing the vehicle directly outside the bar and indiscriminately stabbing people. “He was an inspiration,” his sister Melissa McMullan sobbed.“No words can ever match his essence. There will only ever be one James.“Nowhere else will you find such humour and unique personality – someone who puts his friends above all else.”For the McMullan family, the devastating news brought an end to a period of limbo in which all they could do was scour hospitals, make agonising public appeals and call James’s phone until the battery went dead.
Both had been granted visas for the trip, perhaps telling British embassy officials in Moscow they were visiting London to see friends or even attend a Premier League football match. When Aeroflot flight SU2588 touched down at Gatwick Airport on the afternoon of Friday, March 2, there was nothing particularly remarkable about the two middle-aged Russian men disembarking together. In reality the pair, travelling under aliases, were from Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency. And they had a much more sinister… Wearing jeans, trainers and Puffa jackets, the pair passed easily through immigration and passport control, blending in with those heading to London to see the sights or go shopping.
Samantha Markle appeared on Jeremy Vine’s television show on MondayCredit:Pixel8000 Samantha Markle appeared on British television on Monday, saying: ‘I wish things could be different’ Credit:Pixel8000 Since Meghan became a royal, Ms Markle has hit out at her for being “cold”, accused her of ignoring her father and branded Harry a “wuss”.Sign up for Your Royal Appointment – for everything you need to know about the Royal Family, direct to your inbox each week. Ms Markle also took part in a phone-in with members of the public and was met with a barrage of criticism from callers.A caller called Chris, from Kent, told Ms Markle: “All we’ve seen is the hate you’ve spewed against your sister.”If you actually love your sister I think this should have been done in private, not on social media, or going on television saying you’re sorry… what you’re doing is not right.” Ms Markle replied: “Most of what you read in the tabloids is not true… There have been so many times I’ve said, in live interviews, favourable things but they were not printed.”Another call, Lindsay from Leeds, declared that Ms Markle should have been “stopped at border control”, adding: “She’s got no relevance to be here”.However, Victor from London called in to say Ms Markle was an “absolutely lovely lady” and that should Harry and Meghan have a baby, she should be godmother. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The Duchess of Sussex’s half-sister, Samantha, pictured at her graduation in 2008Credit:TIM STEWART NEWS LIMITED Also known as Samantha Grant, Ms Markle has see-sawed between criticising and praising Meghan on social media.More recently she has vented her fury, accusing the Duchess of hypocrisy and of treating of their father inhumanely.Meghan’s father Thomas Markle pulled out of giving his daughter away at her wedding due to ill health and after being caught staging photos with the paparazzi for cash. The Duchess of Sussex’s half-sister, Samantha Markle, has arrived in Britain in a bid to make peace with her sibling.She apologised to Meghan live on television on Monday, saying: “I wish things could be different.”Ms Markle, appearing on Jeremy Vine on Channel 5, said she was visiting the UK to make personal contact with the Duchess and “hopefully move forward with peaceful resolve”.She was not invited to the royal wedding and has not spoken to Meghan in years.Ms Markle, who previously called Meghan the “duch-ass”, defended insulting her on Twitter, saying: “(My father) was being purposely ignored.”We were hoping that private channels would be used. When they failed, we went public.”She added: “I was lashing out more at the media”.