Rory McIlroy Faces Stern Test to Retain His Title in Dubai


Rory McIlroy will defend his Dubai Desert Classic title this week (from Thursday, Sky Sports 4, 6am) the final event in the three-legged Desert Swing. He won last year by three strokes but will face a strong field including Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen. The European contingent will be of particular interest to Darren Clarke, this year’s Ryder Cup captain, who will also compete at the Emirates Golf Club.


Mark Cavendish, now riding for Dimension Data, and Marcel Kittel, now on board with Etixx-Quick Step, will both be out to make an impression for their new teams on the Dubai Tour this week (from Wednesday, British Eurosport, 9am). Cavendish is defending his title and the two pacemen should enjoy a very healthy battle at a race where three of the four stages have a good chance of concluding in a sprint. British sprinter Owain Doull will also be racing alongside Bradley Wiggins as part of Team Wiggins. Doull is a promising talent and was part of the Wiggins squad that recently triumphed in the Revolution Series in Manchester.


Ireland begin this year’s women’s Six Nations as favourites, having won two of the previous three championships. The tournament is increasingly popular but with the men’s competition now being broadcast by both ITV and the BBC, the coverage of the women’s game has taken a bit of a hit. ITV have the England men’s home games but are not broadcasting any of the women’s matches, while the BBC will only cover two of England’s home games (against Ireland and Wales) on 5 Live Sports Extra. This seems poor given the dearth of sport on the BBC and would actually fit its remit to broadcast coverage not catered for by the commercial sector. The tournament opens on Friday with Scotland v England.


With FA Cup victory over Derby, Louis van Gaal ensured his delayed-sacking process struggles on further into the season but will Manchester United now let him spend some money before the transfer window deadline? We will know by Monday night when the curtain comes down. Sadly it seems likely that Sky will stick to last year’s decision to drop the televisual spectacular of reporters standing in dark streets amid unkempt youths mouthing “hello mum” and “wanker” at the camera, while dildos rain down from the sky. Their more staid and infinitely less entertaining coverage is on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports 5 while the BBC has Mark Chapman in charge on 5 Live at 7pm.


The new Super League season kicks off on Thursday with Leeds hosting Warrington (Sky Sports 2, 7pm), who, despite the Rhinos winning all three trophies, beat them twice, home and away, last season. It is the beginning of a new era for the Rhinos after the retirements of three legends of their club – and the sport. After the match Sky will show Jamie Peacock: Legend of League(Sky Sports 2, 10pm), a special documentary that follows the Leeds prop for the final weeks of his career, which ended in fairytale fashion as he won his ninth Grand Final. It is followed by Wigan Warriors v Catalans Dragons on Friday (Sky Sports 2, 7.30pm).

Photo by Inside Golf Media


(Via: The Guardian)