Gareth Thomas: Ex-Wales rugby captain has HIV

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Media captionGareth Thomas reveals he is HIV positive

Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas has revealed he is HIV positive, saying he wants to “break the stigma” around the condition.

He said he wants to show how people with HIV are misrepresented as “walking around with walking sticks who are close to dying”.

He has also spoken about “shame” and “fear” of keeping his condition secret.

He completed the Ironman triathlon in Pembrokeshire after making the announcement – cheered on by crowds.

He finished the gruelling challenge in 12 hours and 18 minutes with high emotion at times.

Image copyright Athena Pictures
Image caption Thomas broke down with emotion as he saw his husband Stephen in the crowd of cheering supporters at the Ironman race in Tenby
Image copyright Athena Pictures
Image caption There was a warm embrace for the former Wales rugby captain before he continued his race

In a Twitter video posted on Saturday night, Thomas said he was compelled to make the announcement after threats were made to to him by “evils” to reveal his HIV status.

Since making the announcement, support for the 45-year-old ex-British and Irish Lions skipper flooded in.

It included a message from the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, on the social platform Instagram where he said: “Gareth, you are an absolute legend! In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV.

“We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you. H”

The former Wales captain, who won 100 caps for his country, is due to talk about his diagnosis in a BBC Wales documentary on Wednesday.

In it, he says at his lowest point in 2018 he felt like dying.

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Media captionEmotional finish to Ironman for Gareth Thomas

Prince William was among the thousands of messages supporting Thomas after his emotional revelation.

“Courageous as ever – legend on the pitch and legend off it,” said a tweet from Kensington Palace.

“You have our support Gareth. W.”

  • ‘It takes people like Gareth Thomas to fight HIV stigma’
  • Ex-Wales rugby captain Thomas reveals he has HIV
Image copyright Athena Pictures
Image caption Support for Thomas around the epic Ironman challenge has been immense
Image copyright Athena Pictures
Image caption The sporting legend was able to roar back his own cheer in thanks
Image copyright Athena Pictures
Image caption Brothers in arms – ex-Wales rugby mate Shane Williams greets Thomas at the Ironman finish

Public information campaigns in the 1980s, warning people to take precautions against Aids, have left a legacy of misunderstanding, he says.

Advances in medicine now allow people who are HIV positive to live long healthy lives. With effective treatment, the virus cannot be passed on.

Other than waking at 06:00 to take a single pill every day and visiting the hospital for blood tests every six months, the condition has little impact on day-to-day life for Thomas.

On the contrary, he is taking part in an Ironman challenge on Sunday, which has involved him learning to swim, which to Thomas was a way of demonstrating his physical and mental strength.

“When I first found out that I was going to have to live with HIV, the first thing I thought was straight away: I was going to die,” he said.

“It’s not like I blame people for not knowing this.

“This is a subject that because of the 80s scenarios people don’t talk about it because that’s the only information they have.”

He added: “The overriding question that everybody said to me – the first question everyone says to me when I tell them I’m living with HIV – is ‘Are you going to be OK?’

“And it’s a really compassionate question to ask. But, this is meant the nicest way possible, it’s a really uneducated question.”

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Media captionWarren Gatland sends Gareth Thomas his best wishes

Thomas said revealing that he is living with HIV was similar to coming out as gay in 2009 because of “the fear, the hiding, the secrecy, the not knowing how people are going to react”.

“But I think when it was all about my sexuality it just seemed like there was more empathy and more understanding because you had more knowledge, because you could turn on the telly and you could see that there was LGBT representation on most platforms.”

Image copyright CARL COURT/Getty Images
Image caption Presenting a shirt to then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011 at a meeting of sports figures to discuss homophobia and transphobia in sport

Who is Gareth Thomas?

25 July 1974: Born in Sarn near Bridgend

1994: Makes debut for home town club Bridgend and goes on to play for Cardiff Blues (twice), Celtic Warriors and Toulouse

1995: Makes his Wales debut and goes on to win 100 caps, scoring 40 tries and also appearing in three British Lions Tests

2005: Wins the 2005 Heineken Cup with Toulouse and captains Wales to their first grand slam in 27 years

2007: Wins his final cap for Wales in the World Cup

2009: Reveals he is gay, saying “what I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby”

2010: Thomas switches codes to rugby league

2011: Announces his retirement, last appearing for Crusaders in Wrexham in July

2012: His post-rugby career includes Celebrity Big Brother, roles in pantomime, regular work as a rugby pundit and campaigning against homophobia in sport. Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke is involved in talks to play him in a film

2014: Publishes his autobiography, Proud, which wins sports book of the year

2015: His life story is told in a stage play, Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage

2018: He posts a video on Twitter after being assaulted and becoming victim of a hate crime in Cardiff. Took part in Sport Relief, when he conquered his fear of heights with the fire service

Thomas, who finished third in Celebrity Big Brother in 2012 and reached the semi-final of Dancing on Ice the following year, lives near Bridgend with his husband Stephen, 56. They married in 2016.

In the documentary, Stephen talks about how the public will react to Gareth’s announcement and how the couple will be treated.

“I’m going to have to take it on board and deal with it,” he says.

“I’m going to cross it when I come to it.”

Stephen, who does not have HIV, added: “I think it’s going to teach so many people what is HIVI was one of the ignorant ones, I will be honest, like so many people.”

“I think it’s a fantastic thing he’s doing. He’s showing that you can have HIV but you can still do the sport and the Ironman, for goodness sake.”


When you have a secret that other people know about it makes you really vulnerable towards them. And I just I felt like I had no control over my own life

The documentary shows Thomas’s anxiety and having to consult legal representatives after a tabloid newspaper found out about his HIV status. It led to journalists going to his parents’ home.

“I needed to take control of my life” he said.

“When you have a secret that other people know about it makes you really vulnerable towards them. And I just I felt like I had no control over my own life.”

Thomas said he currently felt the strongest he had ever been in his life.

“I’ve had a shitty rollercoaster of a ride. My parents say to me ‘Jesus Christ. What’s coming next with you?’.

“I had the whole emotional challenge of revealing my sexuality and confronting the sporting stereotype within that.

“And then I felt ‘I’m confronting this’, which has so many similarities.”

In the film he confides in Shane Williams, another former Wales international turned amateur triathlete and actress Samantha Womack.

In a BBC Wales interview, he explained: “I’m trying to take control of my life, but I’m not trying to break the stigma and educate for me. Because that’s really selfish.

“I’m trying to educate and break the stigma for everybody, which includes me in that everybody.”

Image copyright nito100/Getty Images
Image caption The drug PrEP is being used as part of HIV prevention

What is HIV?

  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus – the immunodeficiency is the weakening of the immune system by the virus.
  • It has been passed on between humans for many decades but was only identified in the early 1980s.
  • If left untreated, infection with HIV progresses through a series of stages, leading to late-stage HIV or Aids
  • HIV can be passed on through blood or semen but not passed on by spitting, sneezing, coughing, kissing or general social contact.
  • There is now robust evidence to say, with confidence, that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass on the virus.
  • There are an estimated 94,100 people living with HIV in the UK, around 2,200 of them in Wales; 4,484 people were diagnosed in 2018, a 28% decline since 2015.
  • As a result of combination prevention – condom use, HIV-prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), expanded HIV testing and of antiretroviral therapy – there has been a 39% fall in diagnosis among gay and bisexual men since 2015
  • Sources: Terrence Higgins Trust and Public Health England
  • HIV drug ‘should be on the NHS’
  • The HIV-positive man who stopped thousands getting the virus

Ian Green, chief executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘I’m very proud to call Gareth Thomas a friend. Gareth is proof that a HIV diagnosis shouldn’t stop you from doing anything you want to do – whatever that is.

“I hope that by speaking publicly about this, Gareth will transform attitudes towards HIV that are all too often stuck in the 1980s.

“We’ve made huge medical advances in the fight against HIV that means that people living with HIV like Gareth now live long healthy lives.

“We can also say without doubt that those on effective HIV treatment can’t pass on the virus. This is exactly the kind of information Gareth wants to get out there to challenge the stigma that still surrounds this virus.”

Gareth Thomas: HIV and Me will be shown on BBC One Wales on Wednesday 18 September, 21:00 BST



‘I had 40 stitches, won £5,000 and am ready for war with Wilder,’ says Fury

Tyson Fury posed with fans at the airport as he left Las Vegas, wearing sunglasses to hide his cuts

Tyson Fury says he is “ready for war” with Deontay Wilder in February despite concerns the severe cuts suffered in his heavyweight win over Otto Wallin could delay their bout.

Speaking to BBC Sport as he was ushered through the airport in Las Vegas on Sunday, the 31-year British fighter said “just over 40 stitches” were needed for two cuts suffered against Wallin on Saturday.

“I went to the hospital, had a few stitches, went home and had an early night,” he said.

“Then I’ve got up, gone to the casino, won five grand, had a few beers and now I’m going to have a few more beers.”

Fury sported sunglasses, which hid his stitching, and while his team were keen to get him through security at McCarran International Airport, he stopped for photographs with fans who paid him compliments.

The Manchester-born boxer fought for more than nine rounds while cut at the T-Mobile Arena and received a second cut later in the fight.

The injury prompted promoter Frank Warren to say a proposed 22 February rematch with WBC world heavyweight champion Wilder could be delayed if Fury does not heal adequately.

Tyson Fury is now unbeaten in 30 professional fights

Asked about a delay, Fury said: “I’m ready for war. I think it was just over 40 stitches inside and out with both the cuts.

“Listen I’m all right. It’s boxing. You can’t go swimming and not get wet. It’s the fight game.”

Fury’s promoters in the US have since confirmed he had 47 stitches in all following the bout, in which Wallin took Fury to 12 rounds despite being widely written off beforehand.

In just his fifth fight back since returning to the sport, Fury adapted tactically during the fight.

Asked if such a test would further improve him before any Wilder meeting, he replied: “100% – 12 rounds will bring me on to the next fight.

“I thought it was tough. He’s a tough, durable guy Wallin.

“We put on a good show for the Mexican fans and we got a massive audience, I was very surprised.”



Hostile crowds and brilliant Broad ensure Warner endures torturous Ashes

‘He’s done him again’ – Broad dismisses Warner for seventh time in series

David Warner’s summer started with boos. It ended with them, too.

Crowds always have the Warner fear. He’s barely scored a run in this Ashes series and yet, as he walked out on the fourth day, an improbable chase of 399 looming, the whispers went around.

“Well, Warner is due some runs.”

“Flat pitch, series done? It’s perfect for him.”

“Could this be the day?”

Warner is the pantomime villain wherever Australia go. He even grew a Dick Dastardly moustache to twiddle a few years back. People describe him as someone who holds grudges but they don’t put him off; he thrives on being in the moment, being in the thick of things, and proving people wrong.

When he performs, his batting is a metaphorical two fingers up to his critics. When he first started playing Test cricket, he was dismissed as a T20 slogger. “Not a proper opener,” came the sniffs.

But going into this Ashes series, Warner was the player most feared. Not Steve Smith – Warner.

That’s what this Ashes series was going to be. Warner’s redemption.

Coming on the back of a sterling World Cup, where he hit three centuries and finished as the tournament’s second-leading run-scorer, people expected Warner to easily translate his white-ball form to the Test arena. Smith, with all his ticks and jitters, would be the one to struggle, people said; Warner was as good as ever.

David Warner’s highest score in the Ashes series was just 61

But as the sun shone on Sunday afternoon, Warner trudged off The Oval. Stuart Broad had got him again, the seventh time in 10 innings. Ninety five runs in 10 Test innings, the lowest ever return for an opener playing a five-Test series.

The signs that Warner has been desperate to impose himself have been there.

He doesn’t like to take the first ball of the match, yet in the second innings at Old Trafford, Ashes on the line, and in the first at The Oval, his Test career potentially on the line, he made sure he was there, facing Broad.

No-one was going to accuse Broad of having the wood on him; no-one was going to say that Warner was scared of facing Broad.

He went for a duck at Old Trafford, completing a pair. At The Oval he played a frenetic innings, slashing wildly at Broad before falling to Jofra Archer in the next over.

Each time, he was booed heartily off the ground, the crowd happily rising to their feet to wave off the villain of the piece. By contrast, when Smith fell for the final time, he was given a standing ovation, boos silenced by the sheer weight of runs he scored in the series.

Warner embraces his role as a villain, partly because he knows the crowds won’t relent, but also as a way of fitting in. At Edgbaston, he basked in the applause of the Hollies Stand after he showed them his pockets were empty in response to their chanting.

Warner was playing his first Test series since being banned for his part in the ball-tampering scandal

He’s also more complex than the villain stereotype perpetuates.

He grew up in government housing – the Australian equivalent of council housing – and packed boxes in a supermarket when he was 15 to help his parents pay the rent. He also saw violence growing up, telling Cricinfo in 2015 about a murder that took place outside his house.

“We didn’t hear it but we saw the body lying there,” he said.

Warner is now regarded as the fittest player in the Australia side for which he credits his wife, Candice. A former Ironwoman, she got him to cut down the drinking and join her on her 6am runs on the beach.

Warner is fiercely protective of her; the altercation in the stairwell with Quinton de Kock came after the South African reportedly insulted Warner’s wife, and Candice was reduced to tears by misogynistic crowd chants about her during that fateful tour.

She flew over to England before the World Cup to give birth to their third child and she and the children have stayed close on what has been a long, gruelling summer.

Warner was vice-captain before the ball-tampering scandal and it was something he embraced. He was the one who spoke to the bowlers during the game. Even now, when Australia take a wicket, Warner is there, always cheering louder than everyone else.

If he takes a catch, his roar of celebration is the most exaggerated, fists clenched, head thrown back, an animalistic yell escaping into the air above.

When Nathan Lyon fluffed the run-out of Jack Leach in that astonishing game at Headingley, it was Warner who was the first player to reach him, arms out in celebration, grin stretched across his face, before he realised what had happened.

Root takes sensational catch as England draw the Ashes

Warner has been in good spirits despite a horrible run with the bat. He’s not someone who is always in the middle of things off the field. Sometimes he plays cards with the team, other times he’ll sit quietly, headphones on.

He has a Smithesque routine at the crease; the knees bend, the bat hits the floor, the gloves are undone and then redone after every delivery.

When he came to the crease on the fourth day at The Oval, every ball was an event. The crowd clapped as Broad ran in. In between overs, there was Warner, practising defensive shots, trying to line up the angle that Broad was spearing the ball in from.

He made Archer wait until he was ready, until he had gone through his routines. His shouts of “no run” were loud enough to echo around the ground. His one four, cut furiously off the back foot, hinted at the form that had made him, for a time, the best opener in the world.

And then it ended as it had started. A thick edge off Broad, caught at slip. Warner had a shake of the head and a wry smile as he walked off, boos ringing in his ears.

Smith has earned the respect, begrudging or otherwise, of the England crowd. Warner, you suspect, will never be able to scale those heights.



Channel migrants: Border Force intercepts 41 on four boats

Border Force vessel intercepting migrants Image copyright PA Media
Image caption A Border Force cutter sailed out of Dover early on Sunday

Four small boats carrying 41 migrants have been intercepted in the Channel.

The vessels, which included a kayak carrying two men, were heading for UK shores before being stopped by Border Force, the Home Office said.

A boat carrying 24 migrants – including two children – was intercepted, along with one with five men and one woman onboard.

Nine other people – seven men and two women – were in another boat stopped off the Kent coast.

The migrants were said to be variously Iranian, Afghan, Turkish and Malian.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Migrants intercepted in the Channel were taken to the port of Dover

All have been medically checked and taken to immigration officials for questioning, the Home Office said.

It comes five days after Border Force intercepted what is thought to be the highest number of migrants in a single day amid warnings the closure of a French camp could prompt a spike in Channel crossings.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Immigration officials took charge once on land

On Tuesday, 86 men, women and children attempted the journey in small boats, with some managing to land on beaches before being detained.

Refugee charity Care4Calais warned the imminent closure of a gym in Dunkirk, where up to 1,000 migrants are living, is likely to prompt a spike in crossing attempts.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Despite the calm waters and sunny weather on Sunday, the crossing is still fraught with risk

On Friday morning, French police officers cordoned off an area of wasteland and woodland on the outskirts of Calais, telling those camping there to leave and move their tents.

The wave of migrant camp evictions and the looming clearance of a Dunkirk gym – currently thought to be housing more than 70 families – came after a French court order was issued.

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Media captionCalais channel crossing journey

At least 1,373 people, including more than 100 children, have crossed the Channel in small boats since 3 November 2018.

Of those, 1,127 have successfully crossed the Channel this year.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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Jojo Rabbit: Nazi satire wins top Toronto film award

Still from the film Jojo Rabbit Image copyright TIFF
Image caption Jojo Rabbit’s win moves it firmly into the 2020 Oscar race

The film Jojo Rabbit has won the influential People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

The World War II satire about a young boy in 1940s Germany who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house stars Scarlett Johansson and Roman Griffin Davis.

Johansson also appears in the film that was first runner-up, Marriage Story, where she plays a mother and actress divorcing her theatre director husband, played by Adam Driver.

The second runner-up was Parasite, a South Korean comedy-drama which earlier this year won the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival.

Image copyright TIFF
Image caption Scarlett Johansson also has a leading role in first runner-up Marriage Story

Jojo Rabbit’s win moves it firmly into the 2020 Oscar race because Toronto’s People’s Choice prize, also known as the Audience Award, is seen as a strong indicator for success in the film awards season. Last year’s winner Green Book went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Other previous Audience Award winners include Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and 12 Years A Slave, which all went on to be named Best Film at the Academy Awards.

Its track record in predicting Oscar success has made it into one of the most influential prizes of awards season. It’s voted for online by audience members at the festival, although the organisers don’t reveal precisely how the result is calculated.

Image copyright TIFF
Image caption Parasite, a South Korean comedy-drama, was second runner-up

TIFF does say that it takes into account the proportion of a film’s total audience who vote for it. And that it ensures the validity of the voting by matching votes to IP addresses and by matching voters’ emails with addresses used to purchase tickets. However, some audience members pay cash for tickets without using an email address.

A TIFF spokesperson says: “We care about our audience and want to know from all the people who interact with TIFF about what they think of our films, but votes that can be verified will be given more weight in the final scoring.”

Jojo Rabbit is directed by Taika Waititi, who also directed the Marvel blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok. The film will be screened at the London Film Festival in October, and will be released in UK cinemas in January 2020.



Solheim Cup 2019: Europe beat USA 14½-13½ to win at Gleneagles

Highlights: Europe beat USA by one point to win Solheim Cup

Europe won the last three singles matches to seal a sensational 14½-13½ Solheim Cup victory over the United States at Gleneagles.

Bronte Law, who moments earlier won her match on the 17th, sprinted up the 18th fairway to join the celebrations after wildcard pick Suzann Pettersen holed an eight-foot putt on the last to win the trophy.

“She got a bit of stick for getting that pick, but it shows she was the right one,” said Europe captain Catriona Matthew.

“For it to come down to the last game was amazing. I could barely watch, it’s far worse watching.

“Everyone will remember that final putt but we had to get there. It’s been a great week, with great performances throughout the team.”

Watch the moment Europe win the Solheim Cup with final putt

Norwegian Pettersen was originally selected as a vice-captain after taking time out of the game in November 2017 to have a baby. But after returning to play earlier this year, Matthew gave the 38-year-old world number 665 a surprise ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

And she repaid her captain’s faith with a nerve-shredding victory on the final green.

American Marina Alex missed a 10-foot putt to halve her match with Pettersen to earn a 14th point that would have seen the US retain the trophy.

While Pettersen sized up what she thought would be a putt to win her match to put Europe on 13½ points, Law was sealing that point back on the 17th.

That suddenly meant a Pettersen birdie would seal the win, while a miss would have seen the US reach 14 points and retain the cup, but the Norwegian held her nerve to spark wild celebrations on the green.

Pettersen later admitted she did not know her putt was to win the trophy.

“It really was a big blur,” she said. “I didn’t know. I was just trying to make a birdie.”

“This is the perfect end to my career,” she added, confirming her retirement from the game.

Europe seal unlikely win

Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew has won the Solheim Cup three times as a player

This is a third home victory from three matches played in Scotland and is Europe’s sixth out of 16 editions of the Solheim Cup.

They led 4½-3½ after day one’s alternate shot foursomes and fourballs but the US won Saturday’s matches by the same margin to leave the Solheim Cup evenly poised at 8-8 going into Sunday’s 12 singles matches.

And the trophy looked set to be heading back to the US after both Korda sisters won matches from behind.

Nelly Korda was three down after nine holes but four birdies on the back nine saw her beat Caroline Hedwall two up.

Jessica Korda also trailed early on but three birdies in five holes from the 12th saw her complete a 3&2 victory over Germany’s Caroline Masson and put the US 12-11 ahead.

England’s Charley Hull, who was one up playing the last, hit a poor chip that cost her the win over Megan Khang and when Dutchwoman Anne van Dam missed a putt on the last to hand Lizette Salas another point, the US were 13½-11½ ahead.

However, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist was four up against Morgan Pressel and she halved the 15th to draw Europe to within a point.

Law then won the par-five 16th with a birdie and when Ally McDonald, a late replacement for the injured Stacey Lewis, bogeyed the next, Europe had a levelling point.

Europe pegged back after strong start

Angel Yin (right) was never behind in her 2&1 victory over Azahara Munoz

Spain’s Carlota Ciganda picked up the first European point when she birdied the last to beat Danielle Kang.

That point was quickly followed by two more. England’s Georgia Hall and France’s Celine Boutier, who combined to win three points on the opening two days, made it four wins from four this week with 2&1 victories.

Hall beat world number three Lexi Thompson and was immediately embraced by Matthew and Europe vice-captain Laura Davies.

They all then waited for Boutier, who was playing in the match behind, and there were more joyous hugs as thousands of fans celebrated round the green.

However, Angel Yin was never behind in her 2&1 victory over Azahara Munoz, while Brittany Altomare crushed Jodi Ewart Shadoff 5&4 to pick up another American point.

Jessica Korda, who was unbeaten in the competition, said: “Unfortunately we didn’t get the win but what a day for women’s golf.”

US captain Juli Inkster said: “Europe played great and we tip our hat to them but now we move on to Toledo for the 2021 Solheim Cup.”

Pictures from a dramatic day

Pettersen sends the Solheim Cup-winning putt on its way
The European team rise to their feet along with supporters on the side of the 18th green as Pettersen celebrates
Pettersen took time out of her celebrations to console opponent Marina Alex
Pettersen’s face says it all – the 38-year-old Norwegian announced her retirement from golf immediately after the crowning moment of a glittering career – quite a way to sign off
The United States players were left in shock after victory was prised from their grasp in such dramatic fashion
Edinburgh-born Europe captain Catriona Matthew said guiding Europe to Solheim Cup victory on home soil topped all her previous achievements in golf
And the proud Scot sealed it with a loving kiss



Watford come from behind to draw with Arsenal in Sanchez Flores’ first game back

Roberto Pereyra salvaged a point for Watford from the penalty spot in the 81st minute

A Watford side brimming with attacking intent fought back from two goals down at half-time to draw at home to Arsenal in Quique Sanchez Flores’ first match since being reappointed Hornets manager.

The hosts fired in 31 shots – a club-record for a Premier League game – as Arsenal’s shaky defence finally cracked after the break.

Watford levelled the scores when Roberto Pereyra rolled in a late penalty to secure only their second point of the season.

Tom Cleverley had earlier reduced the deficit when Gunners defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos gave away possession inside his own area.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the visitors in front when he collected Sead Kolasinac’s pass on the turn before firing past Ben Foster.

Arsenal doubled their lead as Aubemeyang finished a sweeping team move but the hosts improved after the break as the Gunners unravelled in front of the vociferous home support.

The Hornets had their chances to complete a stunning comeback with a decisive third, but the otherwise impressive Gerard Deulofeu dragged his effort narrowly wide.

The result sees Arsenal move into seventh, while the Hornets remain rooted to the bottom.

Aubameyang papers over defensive frailties

The Arsenal striker is one of the most clinical forwards in the English top flight, having scored with seven of his last nine shots on target, and the Gunners are quite capable of blowing teams away going forward thanks to the potency of Aubameyang and the technical ability of Mesut Ozil and Dani Ceballos.

They demonstrated their attacking flair as they went through 20 passes for their second goal – but glaring issues remain at the back.

This was evident as early as the 10th minute as the red and white shirts backed off and space opened up for Cleverley, whose fierce effort was well saved by Bernd Leno.

Five minutes later, and Etienne Capoue was given the same time and space but could only shoot over the bar.

The Gunners want to play out from the back, and even though Matteo Guendouzi lost possession deep inside his own half on two occasions they persisted with their approach.

It was Sokratis who eventually made the mistake that always looked likely to happen, before Deulofeu diverted the ball into Cleverley’s path for Watford’s first goal.

David Luiz was brought in from London rivals Chelsea to shore up the defence over the summer, but the Brazilian has endured a difficult few weeks at the start of his Arsenal career, and has now conceded two penalties in three matches.

Luiz brought down Pereyra with a lunge in the final 10 minutes and the substitute stepped up himself to take the penalty and salvage a point for the hosts.

Cause for optimism for bottom club

Sanchez Flores ‘positive for the future’ after Watford comeback

Watford welcomed Sanchez Flores for his second spell in charge at Vicarage Road with a bright start as they looked to impose themselves on the visitors.

They were in the ascendancy before going behind against the run of play as Will Hughes was dispossessed inside the Arsenal half. Kolasinac burst down the other end and fed Aubemeyang to rifle home.

Even after Aubemeyang doubled Arsenal’s lead Watford still sensed the visitors’ weakness was in playing out from the back and they crowded around Leno and his defenders, with the high press eventually leading to Sokratis’ mistake.

The record 31 shots Watford produced was also a record for Arsenal, who have never faced more shots since Opta began collecting records.

The problem for Watford is that only 10 of their shots were on target and the return of injured talisman Troy Deeney cannot come soon enough they look to climb away from the bottom of the table.

Man of the match – Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored two first-half goals that meant Arsenal seemingly looked in control at the interval

‘They were stronger than us’ – what they said

Watford 2-2 Arsenal: Not a good point for Gunners – Emery

Arsenal boss Unai Emery: “Physically they are stronger than us so we want to break the lines from the goal-kick and connect to Mesut Ozil, like we did with the first goal.

“We have young players, we are working to improve and they will gain experience from matches like today. We can grow up and learn with these mistakes.

“We knew that 2-0 was not enough at half-time. “

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores to Match of the Day: “Have I missed the Premier League? Yeah. I miss all these kind of emotions – I love it.

“I was really happy with the performance of the players. We have one point against a very tough team. It’s good for our confidence. We are positive.”

Error prone Arsenal – the stats

  • This was the first time in 22 meetings across all competitions that Watford and Arsenal have drawn against each other, having last done so in December 1984 (1-1).
  • New Watford manager Sanchez Flores has only lost one of his eight managerial meetings with Arsenal’s Unai Emery in all competitions (W3 D4 L1).
  • This was the first time that Arsenal failed to win a Premier League match in which they were at least two goals ahead since April 2016 when they drew 3-3 with West Ham, and the first time Watford avoided defeat in the league after being at least two goals behind since January 2018 v Southampton (2-2).
  • Since his Premier League debut in February 2018, Arsenal forward Aubameyang has been directly involved in 46 goals in the competition (37 goals, 9 assists); only Mo Salah (53) has had a hand in more in this time.
  • Aubameyang has been directly involved in five goals in his four Premier League appearances against Watford, scoring four times and assisting once.
  • Cleverley scored his first home league goal for Watford since October 2017, which also came against Arsenal, 701 days ago.
  • Since the start of last season, Arsenal’s players have made a combined 14 errors leading to opposition goals in the Premier League, at least two more than any other club in this time.
  • Since the start of last season, no side has conceded more goals via penalties in the Premier League than Arsenal (10 – level with Brighton), with the Gunners already having already conceded three this season alone.

What’s next?

Watford travel to Manchester City on Saturday, 21 September (15:00 BST), while Arsenal face Eintracht Frankfurt away in the Europa League on Thursday before hosting Aston Villa on Sunday, 22 September (16:30).



Ashes highlights: England beat Australia by 135-runs to draw series

England bowl Australia out for 263 to wrap up a 135-run victory and draw the series 2-2 in the final Test of the series at The Oval.

READ MORE: England win final Test to level Ashes

WATCH MORE: Archer & Wade stare off as tensions mount

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Ashes 2019: England level series after beating Australia in final Test

Highlights: England wrap up 135-run victory to draw Ashes
Men’s Ashes: England v Australia, fifth Specsavers Test (day four of five)
England 294 & 329: Denly 94, Stokes 67, Lyon 4-69
Australia 225 & 263: Wade 117, Leach 4-49, Broad 4-62
England won by 135 runs; series drawn at 2-2

England ended their memorable summer by earning a 2-2 draw in the Ashes with a 135-run defeat of Australia in the fifth Test.

On a beautifully sunny day at The Oval, England set Australia 399 to win and bowled them out for 263 to square the contest with their oldest enemies in a year when they lifted the World Cup for the first time.

Australia retain the urn they won in 2017-18 but miss out on a first series win in England since 2001, while an Ashes series is drawn for the first time in 47 years.

From 313-8 overnight, England added 16 to be all out for 329 and leave Australia in need of pulling off the highest run-chase in an Ashes Test since 1948.

In conditions that remained relatively good for batting, there was the slightest chance that Steve Smith could end his prolific summer with one more stroke of genius.

There was disbelief, then delight, when Smith turned Stuart Broad to a diving Ben Stokes at leg slip for 23 – his lowest score of the series by 57 runs.

England were still held up by Mathew Wade’s combative century, but after he was stumped off Joe Root, the last three wickets fell for four runs, with victory completed by Root’s stunning grab of Josh Hazlewood.

It means they end coach Trevor Bayliss’ reign with a win, while both sides have 56 points and sit joint-fourth in the World Test Championship.

Australia lifted the Ashes urn by virtue of drawing this series and winning the last one down under

Endings and beginnings

Even though the Ashes were already gone, captain Root challenged England to begin their preparations for the tour down under in 2021-22 in this match.

They were helped by Australia’s decision to field first, strange team selection and dropped catches, but also earned this win through the batting of Joe Denly and Jos Buttler, and a collectively incisive bowling attack.

If Broad removing David Warner for the seventh time in the series was expected, the scale of the celebration inside The Oval was only surpassed when Smith fell.

There was the theatre of Jofra Archer’s duel with Wade, complete with crossed words and long stares, and one more magical moment when Root took his wonderful grab as the shadows lengthened.

No doubt it was the dream for England to lift both the World Cup and the Ashes, but being crowned world champions for the first time and drawing with Australia will be regarded as a success.

Still, Bayliss’ successor has immediate work to do – finally nailing down a top order, getting the best from Root as batsman and captain, deciding the best make-up of the attack – starting with the tour to New Zealand in November.

Brilliant Broad leads England home

‘The off stump went cartwheeling!’ Broad bowls Harris for early breakthrough

Broad has been reborn this summer, leading the attack in the absence of James Anderson and ending the series with 23 wickets – the first England bowler to take more than 20 in four separate contests against Australia.

He had already removed Marcus Harris’ off stump with a wonderful delivery before he turned his attention to Warner, the man he has tortured all summer.

An edge ended in the hands of third slip Rory Burns and left Warner with 95 runs in 10 innings, the lowest aggregate for any opener playing every one of a five-match series in the history of Test cricket.

The crucial moment, though, was the removal of Smith. After a summer when he has racked up 774 runs and England exhausted every conceivable plan, one finally worked.

Broad’s delivery into the hips was turned around the corner, where the lurking Stokes grasped the ball just above the turf.

When Pat Cummins joined Wade to eat up 15 overs, the prospect of a Monday finish was growing, only for Broad to return and find Cummins’ edge, signalling the beginning of the end.

Wade defies England after Smith’s final bow

Archer hits Wade with vicious bouncer before stare off continues

Smith had gone through the World Cup and the beginning of this series being booed by the English crowds for his part in the sandpaper scandal.

When he left the crease for the final time, it was to a standing ovation, The Oval recognising that Smith’s brilliance has been the deciding factor in the final destination of the urn.

By that time, Wade was already into his stride, arriving with the intent to use his feet and get after left-arm spinner Jack Leach in particular.

Wade and Archer are team-mates with Australia side Hobart Hurricanes, but the bad blood seems to go back to an on-field exchange during the fourth Test.

Even as he was approaching the century, Wade was discomforted in a thrilling spell where Archer touched 95mph and, after he passed three figures, the left-hander threw caution to the wind.

He survived a missed stumping, a dropped catch at slip and successfully overturned being given caught at slip, all off Root, before he finally ran past one and was stumped by Jonny Bairstow for 117.

In the next over, Nathan Lyon turned Leach to square leg and, from the next ball, Root’s catch at mid-wicket gave Leach 4-49 to go with Broad’s 4-62.

‘Australia deserved to retain Ashes’ – what they said

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “Australia deserved to retain the Ashes.

“England have got to celebrate the fact that a few days ago Australia retained the Ashes and we all expected Australia to blow them away this week.

“With the ball in particular they have been exceptional.”

‘They’ve found a way to get the demigod out’ – Smith falls for just 23

England captain Joe Root, speaking to TMS: “I thought we were brilliant. To bounce back from a very difficult and emotional week, to come and play in the manner we have, the team has character in abundance.

“This was more of a template of how to play moving forward. It is a step in the right direction. I am very proud of everyone’s effort throughout the summer.”

England man of the series Ben Stokes: “It was disappointing to know we couldn’t get the Ashes back but we came here with a lot of pride and looking to draw the series.

“I’ll look back on winning at Headingley in a few years’ time with fond memories probably, but I’d swap it for winning the Ashes still.”

Australia captain Tim Paine on TMS: “The urn is what we came to get. We knew the rules around the Ashes and a draw is good enough. It’s mission accomplished, which is fantastic.

“I don’t think we ran out of gas. We were outplayed and dropped catches.”

Root takes sensational catch as England draw the Ashes



David Cameron: Boris Johnson backed Leave to ‘help career’

Boris Johnson and David Cameron Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson and David Cameron campaigned together ahead of the 2015 general election

Boris Johnson did not believe in Brexit during the referendum campaign and backed Leave “because it would help his political career”, says David Cameron.

In an extract from his memoir published in the Sunday Times, the former PM also refers to cabinet minister Michael Gove as “a foam-flecked Faragist”.

The pair were “ambassadors for the expert-trashing, truth-twisting age of populism”, Mr Cameron writes.

And he also accuses Mr Gove of being disloyal to himself and Mr Johnson.

Of his former colleague, Mr Cameron writes: “One quality shone through: disloyalty. Disloyalty to me – and, later, disloyalty to Boris.”

The latest revelations come after another extract published on Saturday accused the pair of behaving “appallingly” during the 2016 referendum campaign.

Mr Cameron called the poll after promising it in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto.

He campaigned for Remain, but lost the vote by 52% to 48%, and resigned as prime minister shortly after.

Mr Cameron writes that when deciding whether to back Leave or Remain in the campaign, Mr Johnson was concerned what the “best outcome” would be for him.

“Whichever senior Tory politician took the lead on the Brexit side – so loaded with images of patriotism, independence and romance – would become the darling of the party,” he says.

“He [Mr Johnson] didn’t want to risk allowing someone else with a high profile – Michael Gove in particular – to win that crown.”

The former Tory leader adds: “The conclusion I am left with is that he [Boris Johnson] risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”

He also says during the Leave campaign Mr Johnson, who has repeatedly said the UK must exit the EU on 31 October, privately raised the possibility of holding another referendum after fresh negotiations with the EU.

He criticises Mr Johnson’s use of the Vote Leave campaign bus emblazoned by the much-criticised claim that leaving would mean £350m a week extra for the NHS.

“Boris rode the bus round the country, he left the truth at home,” writes the former prime minister.

Image copyright Carl Court
Image caption Leave-supporting politicians and footballer Sol Campbell with a Vote Leave poster in 2016

And of Mr Gove – a cabinet minister both now and then – he said: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“Gove, the liberal-minded, carefully-considered Conservative intellectual, had become a foam-flecked Faragist warning that the entire Turkish population was about to come to Britain.”

During the run-up to the EU referendum, Mr Gove claimed Turkey and four other countries could join the EU by 2020, increasing the UK’s population by up to 5.23 million by 2030.

However, it was the behaviour of his then employment minister and current Home Secretary Priti Patel that “shocked” him the most, he says.

“She used every announcement, interview and speech to hammer the government on immigration, even though she was part of that government,” he writes.

“I was stuck though: unable to fire her, because that would make her a Brexit martyr.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Cameron said the behaviour of Priti Patel, his former education minister, shocked him the most

Asked about Mr Cameron’s comments, Ms Patel told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that it had been “a privilege to serve” as a minister in David Cameron’s government and that she “enjoyed working with him”.

But she added: “Obviously the referendum has happened, we’ve all moved on, and the fact of the matter is, we are now working to deliver that referendum mandate.

“There is no point in going over the past.”

Image copyright Red Sky Shepherds Huts via PA Media
Image caption The former PM famously wrote his memoirs in a shed – which allegedly cost £25,000

The prime minister and Mr Gove are yet to respond to the criticisms of them contained in Mr Cameron’s book.

In an interview with the Times published on Saturday, Mr Cameron said he was “hugely depressed” about the 2016 referendum result and he knew “some people will never forgive me”.

But he defended his decision to call the poll, arguing the issue of the EU “needed to be addressed”.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said she did not forgive the former PM for calling the referendum.

Speaking at her party conference, she said it was a “shocking misjudgement” by Mr Cameron, which saw him “put the interests of the Conservative Party ahead of the national interest”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionJo Swinson told delegates: ‘I don’t forgive Cameron for the EU referendum’

The prime minister is due to meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg this week as negotiations aimed at securing a deal continue.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson said he was still hopeful a new deal with the EU could be reached in time for the crucial EU summit on 17 October.

It would take a lot of work, he said, adding: “I think that we will get there.”

He said there was a “real sign of movement” in Berlin, Paris and “most interestingly” in Dublin.

However, if he cannot negotiate a deal, the UK would break out of its “manacles” like cartoon character The Incredible Hulk on Halloween, he said.

“Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country,” he said. “We will come out on 31 October and we will get it done.”

However, the actor Mark Ruffalo, who first played the superhero in the 2012 Avengers Assemble film, said on Twitter Mr Johnson had missed the Hulk’s key motivations.

In the interview, Mr Johnson also repeated his opposition to an election pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, saying the Conservative party was a “great” and “old” party that did not form electoral pacts with other parties.

Earlier this month, Mr Johnson expelled 21 MPs from the party after they rebelled against him in a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Asked if any would be allowed to stand as a Conservative at the next election, he did not rule it out but urged people not to underestimate the gravity of what they had done.

“They were effectively handing the initiative to our opponents,” he said. “I just want people to understand why it was necessary to be so strict.”

David Cameron as PM

Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Cameron became the Conservative Party leader in 2005. Five years later he was voted into Downing Street as the UK’s youngest prime minister in almost 200 years – aged 43.

His six-year tenure – firstly in coalition with the Liberal Democrats and latterly with a majority government – was dominated by his desire to reduce the deficit, and the introduction of austerity measures with his Chancellor George Osborne.

But when he pledged in his party’s 2015 manifesto to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, the focus shifted.

Mr Cameron backed Remain during the 2016 campaign and, on the morning of the result after discovering he had lost, he announced he would be stepping down, saying: “I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”

The former PM had remained silent until this weekend about both of his successors at the helm of the Tory Party – Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

But his allegedly fractious relationship with Mr Johnson has been well documented since their days together at Oxford University – most notably as members of the infamous Bullingdon Club.