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Bookies slash England’s RWC odds after France mauling



Cape Town – Following their Six Nations thrashing of France at Twickenham, bookmakers have slashed England’s odds of winning this year’s Rugby World Cup title in Japan.

Eddie Jones’ side were dominant in their 44-8 win at home on Sunday, a week after they were equally impressive in beating defending champions Ireland 32-20 at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.

As a result, leading SA bookies Sportingbet have cut England’s odds from 6/1 to 4/1.

The All Blacks, searching for a hat-trick of Webb Ellis Cup titles, remain favourites at 11/10, followed by Ireland – at 333/100 – who have drifted from 3/1 previously.

The Springboks are next best at 15/2, followed by Australia (12/1) and Wales (14/1).

France (25/1), Argentina and Scotland (both 33/1), complete the list of realistic contenders.

The 2019 World Cup kicks off on Friday, September 20 as hosts Japan face Russia.

The following day will see a mouth-watering encounter as the All Blacks and Springboks square off in Yokohama at 11:45 SA time.

The loser of that blockbuster is likely to face the winner of the Ireland v Scotland Pool A clash, in the quarter-finals.

The final is scheduled for Saturday, November 2.

Rugby World Cup 2019 pools:

Pool A

Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia, Samoa

Pool B

New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Namibia, Canada

Pool C

England, France, Argentina, USA, Tonga

Pool D

Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji, Uruguay

Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup match schedule (SA times):

Saturday, September 21: South Africa v New Zealand,
International Stadium – Yokohama (11:45)

Saturday, September 28: South Africa v Namibia, City of
Toyota Stadium – Aichi (11:45)

Friday, October 4: South Africa v Italy, Shizuoka Stadium
Ecopa – Shizuoka (11:45)

Tuesday, October 8: South Africa v Canada, Kobe Misaki Stadium – Kobe (12:15)

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City of CT accused of dragging feet in CTICC probe




Members of opposition parties say nothing has come of the latest investigation and believe the report will be swept under the carpet.

FILE: The Cape Town International Convention Center. Picture: South African Tourism.

CAPE TOWN – The City of Cape Town (CoCT) has been accused of dragging its feet on the completion of a forensic investigation into the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) after several irregularities were detected in previous reports.

In December last year, an investigation was ordered by council following heated deliberations on the matter.

The expansion of the CTICC was at one stage the subject of an investigation by the Public Protector.

A forensic investigation was also initiated by former city manager Achmat Ebrahim, but nothing came of it.

African Christian Democratic Party councillor Grant Haskin now claims nothing has come of the latest investigation.

“It seems to me like there’s no sense of urgency by the city administration in implementing that council decision. The process can’t be ignored because it doesn’t suit some people.”

African National Congress councillor Xolani Sotashe believes the report will be swept under the carpet: “They have been trying hard to hide information in the past, so we have no reason not to believe that. We can count a number of issues that they have tried to sweep under the carpet.”

The city’s spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said the investigation is still underway.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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Moody’s: Mboweni’s Budget shows further erosion in SA’s fiscal strength




Tito Mboweni, South African Minister of Finance wa

Tito Mboweni, South African Minister of Finance walks with members of the Finance Ministry up Government Avenue to deliver his medium-term budget speech on October 24, 2018. (RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images) ~ AFP

Moody’s, the only major ratings agency that has not already downgraded SA’s sovereign debt to junk, on Wednesday responded to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s maiden Budget by saying it “highlights the government’s limited fiscal flexibility amid a challenging economic environment”.

Moody’s currently has SA’s debt at Baa3 with a stable outlook, one notch above junk status. Rival agencies Fitch and S&P downgraded SA’s sovereign debt to non-investment grade in 2017.

Were Moody’s to downgrade SA to sub-investment grade, the country would automatically be ejected from the major Citi World Government Bond Index. This would force asset managers to sell billions of rands’ worth of SA bonds. Moody’s is scheduled to issue updated ratings in March.  

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Lucie Villa, a Moody’s senior credit officer and lead sovereign analyst for South Africa, said the Budget showed a further erosion in fiscal strength after the October mini budget already pointed to wider deficits. 

“Government support for Eskom, which will be only partially compensated by a reduction in other spending, and revenue under-performance lead to a renewed upward revision in fiscal deficits and debt levels, while contingent liability risks persist,” she said. 

Villa’s statement does not constitute a ratings action. 

In his maiden Budget, Mboweni announced that Treasury would allocate R69bn in financial support over the next three years to help cash-strapped power utility Eskom pay its debts, as it undergoes a restructuring to make it profitable.

Speaking to journalists at a pre-Budget briefing, Mboweni said the state was basically placing Eskom “under curatorship”, and warned the R23bn a year lifeline came with conditions attached.

Part of the support package includes the installment of a “chief reorganisation officer” at Eskom who will be jointly appointed by Mboweni and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Earlier Investec Chief Economist Annabel Bishop said the Budget could possibly stave off a credit negative response from Moody’s. 

“Government expenditure is projected to rise only in one year to provide financial support to Eskom. This may be seen as credit negative by Moody’s, but as it is only one year it may be enough to stave off an actual credit rating downgrade or even change to the outlook for the year,” she said.

A negative outlook can indicate a ratings downgrade within 18 months, she said. 

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FA Cup: Wolves v Man Utd quarter-final live on BBC




FA Cup fifth round: Watch the best goals

The FA Cup quarter-final between Wolves and Manchester United will be broadcast live across the BBC next month.

The Red Devils’ trip to Molineux will be on BBC One and the BBC Sport website at 19:55 GMT on Saturday, 16 March.

Millwall against Brighton – at 14:00 GMT on Sunday, 17 March – will also be screened live on BBC One and online.

Watford v Crystal Palace and Swansea v Manchester City – both of which will take place on the Saturday – will be live on BT Sport.

There will be live in-play clips available for all four games on the BBC Sport website, as well as highlights after full-time.

FA Cup quarter-final fixtures

Saturday, 16 March

  • Watford v Crystal Palace (12:15 GMT) – Live on BT Sport
  • Swansea City v Manchester City (17:20 GMT) – Live on BT Sport
  • Wolves v Manchester United (19:55 GMT) – Live on BBC One

Sunday, 17 March

  • Millwall v Brighton & Hove Albion (14.00 GMT) – Live on BBC One

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