Sports UK

Harlequins crushed as Racing 92 move to banish ghosts of past European failures

T’WAS the nightmare before Christmas as Finn Russell’s Racing 92 handed Harlequins their heaviest ever home defeat in Europe.

The Scotland star and his X-factor pals from across the Channel cut Quins to ribbons to dump them out of the Champions Cup.

This was men against boys as Racing, beaten in three of the last five finals, helped themselves to a magnificent seven tries.

Quins were dire and team boss Paul Gustard admitted: “There was not one facet of the game where we performed.

“There are a lot of upset people, myself and the coaching staff included. We played against a team that was very good and we were anything but.

Quins ship another as Racing 92 run riot at The Stoop

“We were way off. Off in the warm-up, quiet, no bounce about us. No talk, no noise, no energy. Unfortunately we saw the consequences of that. A really really poor performance.”

This was as complete a win as you will see, from the moment Teddy Thomas waltzed through a non-existent defence on Racing’s first attack for what Gustard termed an “unbelievably soft” score.

The gulf in class was apparent long before the rampant Parisian outfit claimed the four-try bonus point with half an hour still to play.

Quins players powerless to prevent Georges-Henri Colombe scoring

Every time they went to their lineout drive they seemed to score and Russell led Quins such a merry dance that at no point was the result ever in doubt.

Unbeaten Wasps apart, this has been a poor tournament for English clubs so far. Gloucester, Exeter and Bristol have one win apiece yet have their work cut out to make the knockout stages.

Against opposition of this quality Quins needed everything to go right. Nothing did. They trailed 20-0 at half-time and two games into this competition have yet to register a first half point.

Quins’ defence breached again during their biggest ever home defeat in Europe

Any hope of a resurgence ended 38 seconds after the restart when Simon Zebo scored and from there the only question was how big a gubbing this would be.

The Londoners’ body language was poor and Chris Ashton’s crass late challenge on Thomas, which overturned a consolation try for Alex Dombrandt, pretty well summed things up.

By contrast Racing were a joy to watch – captain Henry Chavancy later admitting they are a team on a mission to avenge their defeat in last season’s final.

Georges-Henri Colombe takes to the air to claim his try

Nobody shone brighter than Russell, whom former Quins star Ugo Monye hailed as the “most naturally gifted fly-half in world rugby”.

Russell liked that, but passed the praise onto his forwards.

“I imagine for teams facing us it’s quite daunting to come up against that power,” he said. Quins were not about to disagree.

HARLEQUINS – Try: Steele. Con: Smith.

RACING – Tries: Thomas, Le Guen, Zebo, Colombe, Taofifenua, Baubigny, Trinh-Duc. Cons: Machenaud 3, Trinh-Duc 2. Pens: Machenaud 2.

Headlines UK

Eureka! The once-a-night pill that can banish snoring by easing the symptoms of sleep apnoea

A Pill taken at bedtime could stop snoring for good.  

The new tablet eases the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) — which affects up to two million people in Britain, causing heavy snoring and, sometimes, interrupted breathing.

Initial results from clinical trials suggest the night-time pill may ease these problems by up to 74 per cent.

Both men and women can get OSA, but it is most common in men over the age of 40; obesity is one of the main risk factors. It occurs when the muscles in the airway, which naturally relax as we fall asleep, completely collapse.

The snoring sound is caused by air being forced through a smaller gap in the throat and, when the muscles collapse completely, this can shut off breathing for ten seconds or more.

The new tablet eases the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) — which affects up to two million people in Britain. Pictured: A man wears a sleep apnoea mask (file photo)

When the brain realises breathing has stopped, it sends out a signal to contract the airway muscles, which normally makes the person wake with a jolt.

In severe cases, sleep can be disturbed every couple of minutes.

Treatments usually include lifestyle changes such as losing weight, cutting down on alcohol, sleeping on your side, and using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, a mask worn over the face during sleep that gently forces air into the lungs to stop the airway from collapsing.

However, some people find the mask cumbersome and research suggests nearly a third never use the device, or abandon it. A once-a-day pill is seen by some sleep experts as the Holy Grail of sleep apnoea treatment.

The new tablet, currently code-named AD109, contains two existing medications.

The first, atomoxetine, has been around for nearly 20 years and is widely used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, by increasing levels of a brain chemical called noradrenaline, which helps to improve concentration.

A once-a-day pill is seen by some sleep experts as the Holy Grail of sleep apnoea treatment (file photo)

A once-a-day pill is seen by some sleep experts as the Holy Grail of sleep apnoea treatment (file photo)

U.S. scientists developing the new pill believe noradrenaline also stimulates the release of cells, called motor neurons, that keep airway muscles in good condition — reducing the risk of them ‘collapsing’ during sleep.

The other drug, oxybutynin, is usually prescribed to patients with urinary incontinence, stopping embarrassing leaks by reducing spasms in muscles that control the bladder.

In the throat and airway, oxybutynin is thought to act on receptors that make the muscles controlling the tongue contract — effectively holding it in place, rather than blocking the throat and causing snoring.

Neither of these drugs is currently used to treat OSA, but a 2018 study, by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, U.S., in which the two drugs were given at the same time to 20 snorers, revealed a powerful effect after just one night.

Some patients went from suffering an average of nearly 30 breathing interruptions an hour to just seven — a drop of 74 per cent – with symptoms improving from the first night in some cases.

Patients’ blood oxygen levels — important for heart and brain function — also increased significantly as they were able to get more air into their lungs.

Now a U.S. firm, called Apnimed, has combined these two medicines into one capsule and is setting up a clinical trial.

However, the treatment may not be without risks. Oxybutynin can cause dry eyes, stomach cramps and drowsiness; while atomoxetine has been linked with depression and suicidal thoughts in some children given it for ADHD.

Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert and a member of the British Sleep Society, says: ‘These are interesting preliminary findings and the reduction in symptoms is very promising.

‘But more research is needed to see if the effect is sustained.’

Why you might get more tummy troubles in winter 

Stomach aches appear to peak in winter, according to a study in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology.

Researchers from the Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland analysed more than 24 million Google searches made over four years and found that enquiries about abdominal pain and related conditions such as vomiting increased by around 30 per cent in winter compared to summer.

Heavier meals and spending more time on the internet during the winter months may partly explain the rise.

 Eating seaweed weekly might reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by almost 20 per cent, according to a study by Tianjin Medical University in China.

Anti-inflammatory chemicals in seaweed may ward off the disease, in which severe inflammaton can lead to liver cancer.

Yes, DIY masks made from cloth will protect you! 

Homemade face masks are effective at blocking droplets that may carry the Covid-19 virus, according to a new study by the University of Illinois.

Researchers tested 11 common household fabrics used to make masks, such as bed sheets and dishcloths, and compared their breathability and ability to block droplets with medical masks.

Writing in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters, they found that the materials were all effective at blocking 100nm-sized particles — the size of a coronavirus particle — carried by high-velocity droplets similar to those released by speaking, coughing and sneezing.

New way to speed up metabolism

Could scientists have found the secret to speeding up metabolism? Research published in the journal Cell Metabolism has revealed a new way to activate brown fat — a type of body fat which burns energy.

This fat is normally activated by either cold temperatures or chemical signals sent from the brain. Researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada discovered it contains proteins called beta 2-adrenergic receptors, which stimulate the burning process.

They will now use a drug to find out if turning on these proteins could help boost people’s metabolism.

 ‘Vaccine’ for cancer could be on the horizon

A new cancer vaccine is showing promise. Tests on animals reveal the immune system is able to successfully identify tumours after the CLEC9A-WT1 jab is given.

The vaccine, which contains antibodies mixed with a protein specific to tumours, revs up the body’s immune response, allowing it to recognise cancer cells and destroy them. It may work on a range of cancers, including breast and pancreatic, the journal Clinical and Translational Immunology reports.

 Finger length link with dementia risk

Finger size offers a clue to a woman’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by the University of Southern California. Generally, men have shorter index fingers than ring fingers, while women’s are the same length.

The study found women with ‘masculine’ finger ratios are less likely to develop the disease than those with a ‘feminine’ ratio. This ratio is a marker of exposure to hormones in the womb and the results suggest that women who are exposed to more testosterone, or lower levels of oestrogen before birth, may be less likely to get dementia.


 Sneaky ways to add veg without anyone noticing.

This week: Mashed potatoes with celeriac, carrots and swede. This recipe counts as two of your five-a-day per serving.

Mashed potatoes with celeriac, carrots and swede

Mashed potatoes with celeriac, carrots and swede

Method: Peel and chop 400g potatoes and 225g each of swede, celeriac and carrot. Boil in a large pan of water until very soft, then drain.

Mash with a potato masher or use a ricer if you prefer a smoother texture. Season with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon or two of Greek yoghurt. Serve straight away 


Make nasal rinses and mouthwash part of your daily routine — a new study in the Journal of Medical Virology suggests this could help reduce transmission of viruses such as Covid. U.S. researchers tested household products such as baby shampoo (1 per cent, made up with water) as a nasal rinse, and mouthwashes, and found they could inactivate coronaviruses. 

 Secrets of an A-list body…

Alesha Dixon wowed onlookers recently in a bright yellow mini dress

Alesha Dixon wowed onlookers recently in a bright yellow mini dress

HOW to get the enviable physiques of the stars.

This week: Alesha Dixon’s legs.

Alesha Dixon wowed onlookers recently in a bright yellow mini dress that showed off her toned legs.

The 42-year-old mother of two and judge on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent recently said she had completed a 12-week challenge of three workouts a week that left her feeling ‘strong’.

What to try: Try squats with heel raises.

Stand up straight, head forward, and shoulders relaxed.

Bend hips and knees to assume a squat position, keeping your feet hip-width apart.

Make sure your back is straight and head in line with your spine.

Rise up on to your toes, maintaining the squat position.

Lower heels to the floor and return to the start position.

Repeat ten times. Do two to three sets of the exercise, three to five times a week.

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Football USA

The fantasy football studs-turned-duds you should banish

The older you get, the more you will understand the get-off-my-lawn mentality of us older folks. The more you realize how making a mess of things isn’t fun, it is just annoying and often ruins some hard work.

Like, as of today, I’m telling A.J. Green: Get off my lawn! Those few teams we have when we risked a chance on you bouncing back after a lost season, well, you will sully those rosters no more. We cast you out like a fantasy demon, banish you from even a spot on our bench. Get all the way out of here, and don’t forget to shut the door behind you.

That A.J., he’s the worst. But there are other roster vandals messing up our fantasy shrubbery who must be dealt with — be it by benching or trading or, if a surprising replacement is on the waiver wire, outright dropping.

Todd Gurley, we’re going to ask you nicely, please take a seat on our bench. Now, get comfy for a spell while we try to find any suckers who will take you in trade. Yes, we know you had a fairly decent day Sunday — 14-for-80 and a TD — but you’re invisible in the passing game and, worse, Brian Hill got nine carries and did more with the ball (check out his nifty 35-yard TD run). If we can’t find a trade partner for you in the next few weeks, Todd, we might send you to meet up with A.J. on our waiver wire.

Hey, Brandin Cooks, we’ve let you hang out on the fringes of our fantasy property. We weren’t expecting you to be some prize-winning lawn ornament, but we weren’t expecting this much of a mess — being a single-digit albatross when Will Fuller V is playing. Consider this a warning: We are searching for a replacement, and if we find one we like, you’re going to be sent to the curb to get picked up on trash day.

Joe Mixon, you cost us a lot in draft capital. We can’t just throw you out like a flea-market purchase. We’re going to stuff you in a closet, bury you on our bench, and wait it out, assuming we can’t get market value in return in trade. We’ll use James Robinson or Mike Davis or Myles Gaskin instead.

A.J. Green
A.J. GreenUPI

And you, David Montgomery, you get lucky. Just as we’re ready to find ways to get you out of our lineup, your backfield mate, Tarik Cohen, suffers a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. Now, David, you likely will get heavier volume to offset your inefficiency. And you have a new QB in Nick Foles. So maybe you’re going to get it going. We’ll give you a pass, for now. But know just how close you came to getting parked.

Now, all of you guys, if you behave, and if you start playing nice, you could be welcomed back, and avoid an A.J.-style exile.

Giddy up!

Ryan Fitzpatrick QB, Dolphins

He has two straight 20-plus fantasy outings. Don’t trust him long term, but do as a streaming option for this week against a Seahawks defense that has been a sieve against opposing passing games.

Anthony Miller WR, Bears

Nick Foles taking over the starting QB job for Mitchell Trubisky should help the Bears offense. Miller caught a TD from Foles on Sunday and had another overturned on replay. Worth a spot deep on your bench.

Tee Higgins WR, Bengals

Out-targeted A.J. Green this week and scored twice. We prefer the younger talent on the rise on the end of our bench to Green’s falling stock.

Mo Alie-Cox TE, Colts

We know Philip Rivers likes throwing to his tight ends, and Alie-Cox has emerged as his favorite early this season.

Hold your horses

Jeff Wilson Jr. RB, 49ers

Scored twice (one run, one reception) but was terribly inefficient on the ground (12 carries for 15 yards). He’ll be nothing but a TD vulture until Tevin Coleman returns.

Andy Isabella WR, Cardinals

Had a nice game Sunday filling in for Christian Kirk (4-47, two TDs). But Kirk should return — soon, if not this week — which will limit Isabella’s time on the field.

Brandon Aiyuk WR, 49ers

Got a rushing TD Sunday, which won’t happen often for any receiver. This is a run-heavy team. QB Jimmy Garoppolo (when healthy) doesn’t throw to WRs a ton, so volume isn’t going to come. Fellow WR Deebo Samuel reportedly could return in Week 5, putting a cap on Aiyuk’s future touches.

Jimmy Graham TE, Bears

Yeah, two of three games have been solid, and QB change could help. But we’re reluctant to think he suddenly is going to re-emerge at 33.

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