Broadway Grosses: Tony Winners Celebrate Record-Breaking Weeks at the Box Office

first_img View Comments While no particular contender swept the Tony Awards this year, a handful of shows saw box office bumps hot on the heels of celebrating significant wins on June 8. All four shows that took home top honors (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder for Best Musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch for Best Revival of a Musical, All the Way for Best Play and A Raisin in the Sun for Best Revival of a Play) saw their highest grosses to date this week. Additionally, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which roped in two trophies including Best Actress in a Musical for Jessie Mueller, broke another box office record at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The tuner grossed $1,170,050 during a regular eight-show week, surpassing the record held by Anything Goes for a nine-show week. In the aftermath of the Tonys we also said a scheduled farewell to two plays: Act One and A Raisin in the Sun. Meanwhile two productions posted closing notices: Mothers and Sons (shuttering June 22) and After Midnight (ending June 29). FRONTRUNNERS (By Gross) 1. The Lion King ($2,043,643) 2. Wicked ($1,969,827) 3. The Book of Mormon ($1,604,507) 4. Kinky Boots ($1,372,011) 5. Aladdin ($1,332,137) Source: The Broadway League *Number based on 8 preview performances **Number based on 7 regular performancescenter_img Here’s a look at who was on top—and who was not—for the week ending June 15: UNDERDOGS (By Gross) 5. Violet ($342,638)  4. Rock of Ages ($280,008)  3. Casa Valentina ($256,272) 2. Holler If Ya Hear Me ($163,586)* 1. Mothers and Sons ($156,116) FRONTRUNNERS (By Capacity) 1. The Book of Mormon (102.63%) 2. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (102.37%)** 3. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (100.71%) 4. Aladdin (100.03%) 5. A Raisin in the Sun (100.00%) UNDERDOGS (By Capacity) 5. Chicago (70.36%) 4. The Cripple of Inishmaan (67.29%) 3. Bullets Over Broadway (66.07%) 2. Once (65.59%) 1. Mothers and Sons (43.92%)last_img read more

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UK roundup: HSBC Pension Scheme, Fidelity, UK Treasury

first_imgThe HSBC UK Pension Scheme is to transfer £1.8bn (€2.3bn) of defined contribution (DC) assets to Fidelity, moving it from the bank’s own business.HSBC said Fidelity UK would offer investment-only services to members, with consultancy Towers Watson retaining control over administration.The scheme was previously managed by HSBC Life, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings, but is currently in the process of being sold.HSBC Life offered corporate and individual pensions, as well as annuities. However, in June this year, it was announced the bank was selling its life business to Admin Re Group, part of the Swiss Re business.As part of the deal, Admin Re will take over £4.2bn of assets, most of which was also managed by the banking group’s asset management business.The pension scheme’s decision to move to Fidelity comes as the sale of HSBC Life awaits regulatory approval.In other news, the UK government has announced further changes to the treatment of DC savings in the tax system.Under the banner of the government’s flagship pension reforms announced in this year’s Budget, chancellor George Osborne scrapped the 55% tax charge of DC pensions after the death of the member.Under the old system, a 55% charge was made when a member left their DC pot as a lump-sum, or when it was already in drawdown, or left untouched and the deceased member was over 74.However, under the reform from April 2015, anyone who dies under the age of 75 can pass on DC savings completely tax free, as long as it has not been converted into an annuity.Those over 75 can pass on DC savings tax free when in drawdown, but will still face a 45% charge for a lump-sum.last_img read more

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Challenges remain for PPF despite funding improvements

first_imgThe UK’s lifeboat for bankrupt company pension schemes faces challenges ahead, despite improvements in funding levels over the past year, the institution has said.Following the publication of its annual Purple Book yesterday, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) said the aggregate funding level across more than 5,000 had reached 95.7% in March 2018, up from 90.5% the previous year.Andy McKinnon, chief financial officer at the PPF, said “almost exactly half” of the improvements had been driven by market movements, including improvements in gilt yields that had pulled down liabilities, but also surging stock markets that had lifted investment portfolios.Improvements to the data gathered from schemes also helped define how funding levels have increased, said McKinnon. This data included employer cash injections and asset allocation changes. Andy McKinnon, chief financial officer, PPFHowever, he warned that there were still 3,188 schemes in deficit – equivalent to more than half in the UK – the impact of which was “close to £115bn” (€129bn).“We have seen some improvement in scheme funding,” said McKinnon, “but it is still the case that there is a lot of risk remaining in the universe.”Asset allocationThe Purple Book showed that, despite a significant proportion of schemes being underfunded, investment portfolios had been increasingly dialling back risk.The percentage of equities held in portfolios was just 27%, down from 29% a year earlier, with UK stocks falling out of favour. Within equity portfolios, UK schemes held just 19% in domestic equities, down from just under 50% in 2008, with around 70% held in global securities. Privately listed equities made up around 11% of this asset class.Just 5% of UK pension investment portfolios were held in domestic equities in 2018, down from more than a quarter a decade ago.Meanwhile, over the past year, schemes increased their allocations index-linked bonds – 44.5% to 47.1% – and turned away from regular corporate debt markets – 31.4% to 28.8%. Overall fixed income holdings made up just under 60% of aggregate portfolios.McKinnon said pension schemes held on aggregate a 7% allocation to hedge funds in their portfolios this year, compared to a 1% holding across the universe in 2006.Over the 12 months to the end of June 2018, the PPF said there had been £22bn worth of risk-transfer deals, including longevity swaps, buyouts and buy-ins, up from £16bn the previous year, “but nevertheless a relatively small amount in the context of the whole universe of schemes”.At the end of March , the PPF managed £30bn and had more than 236,000 members. It was 112.8% funded at that point. McKinnon added that the PPF had made changes to liability assumptions in the summer, which had also improved funding levels.last_img read more

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Break brings new options for on-campus dining

first_imgOn Thursday, after campus has cleared out, the handful of students left on campus will find they have more options than usual for Thanksgiving dinner.USC Hospitality, University Residential Student Community, the Office of International Services and the Trojan Knights have all arranged events for students who find themselves stuck on campus for the holiday.Trojan nights · The Trojan Knights will hold a Thanksgiving dinner in front of Tommy Trojan on Thursday as they guard the statue as part of Save Tommy Week. – Ian Elston | Daily Trojan“Lots of students go away with friends who live locally,” said Lynette Merriman, senior associate dean for USC Student Affairs. “But for those who choose to stay behind, we do have opportunities for Thanksgiving dinner.”Though students in previous years have complained about the lack of dining options on Thanksgiving week, Merriman said there will be plenty of opportunities for students to get a good meal this year.The school-sponsored options include dinners at Parkside Dining Hall and Everybody’s Kitchen, and a match-up program for international students to eat dinner with American families, Merriman said. Many residential faculty will also host full Thanksgiving dinners Tuesday night.Mercedes Antonich, an EVKemployee who has worked at the Thanksgiving dinner, said the dining hall tries to create a welcoming experience for students. She said creating that family experience is worth the extra time spent at EVK.“It’s so nice, I never minded it because we close at 7:30 p.m. and then go home and eat with our own family,” she said.EVK is expecting about 70 students to attend its Thanksgiving dinner.International students will also have the chance to have a more intimate experience for Thanksgiving dinner.The Office of International Servicesoffers an annual Thanksgiving match-up program, which pairs students with local host families to create a cross-cultural experience. About 80 students participate in the program each year, according to OIS.Waleed Ishtiaq, an international student from Pakistan and a freshman majoring in engineering, said he was unsure whether he will celebrate Thanksgiving, but the international student group invited him to join a family.“A lot of people have invited me, so I might as well go,” Ishtiaq said. “I guess it’s better than staying here alone.”This year, the Trojan Knights will host a new Thanksgiving dinner in front of Tommy Trojan, since Thanksgiving falls in the middle of its annual Save Tommy Week.Mark Wynohradnyk, a Trojan Knight and a sophomore majoring in business administration and cinematic arts, said he’s glad to be spending Thanksgiving on campus if it means serving the USC community.“I’m all the way from the East Coast, so I’m definitely excited to be doing this on Thanksgiving,” Wynohradnyk said. “Protecting Tommy Trojan comes first — if that means not seeing my family, that’s what I’ll do.”The Knights’ dinner costs $25 per person, and they are expecting about 50 people to attend.last_img read more

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The Finish Line…Where nothing matters but the facts!

first_imgLegendary Pirates sluuger Dave Parker is interviewed at the 1979 All-Star Game. During a 19-year career with five teams, Parker was nicknamed ‘Cobra’ because of his lethal bat and cannon-like arm. (AP Photo/File)The great Dave Parker of the “We are Fam-i-lee” Pirate folklore has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Trust me, “The Cobra” will strike back.For Riley Cooper there is no excuse, no exception and no reason . . . but there is forgiveness. That will be left up to his Philadelphia Eagle teammates and of course “The Brothers” waiting for him in the parking lot.  In the meantime Mr. Cooper, here’s what you should do.  #1 – a huge public apology on Dr. Phil.  #2 – beg for your team’s forgiveness.  #3 – march your racist ass down to the Philadelphia NAACP office and drop off a $250 check.Here are your top ten NBA free agent contracts for the upcoming 2013 season:    1.    Chris Paul    ~    $107 million    2.    Dwight Howard    ~    $88 million    3.    Josh Smith    ~    $56 million    4.    Andre Igoudala    ~    $48 million    5.    Tyreke Evans    ~    $44 million    6.    Al Jefferson     ~    $40.5 million    7.    David West    ~    $36 million    8.    Kevin Martin    ~    $30 million    9.    Jose Calderon    ~    $29 million    10.    Monta Elli’s    ~    $28 millionBut the real kicker is you only know half these guys . . . no you don’t . . . no you don’t!Wake up and get out of that cave you’ve been in since February. Football season is here and your six time Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers strap on the gear for the 2013 season against the New York Giants, Saturday at Heinz Field, 7:30 p.m. kick-off. It’s that time.Hi! Baseball Commissioner . . . oh whatever your name is. This is “A-Rod”. I reject your suspension and I am going to play. I’ll get back to ya.Steeler legends until kick-off. Former Pittsburgh Steeler, super star, defensive lineman, Dwight White once told me in an interview if we are recognized as the greatest defensive line in NFL history, why aren’t all four of us in the NFL Hall of Fame? Good question, very good question! Here’s to Dwight “Mad Dog” White, “Mean Joe” Greene, L.C. “Hollywood Bags” Greenwood, and Ernie “Fats” Holmes the greatest D-Line of all time!!!You’ve now crossed The Finish Line!last_img read more

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Abrosimoff powers Mt. Sentinel past LVR Junior Bombers

first_imgFor the second time in four days the Mount Sentinel Wildcats beat up on their district rivals from L.V. Rogers on the basketball court.Aaron Abrosimoff scored a game high 18 points, including 10 in the opening quarter, to spark the Wildcats to a 44-32 West Kootenay High School Junior Boy’s Basketball victory Wednesday at the South Slocan School.Abrosimoff, who scored 11 points in a weekend victory during the Stanley Humphries Rockers Junior Boy’s Tournament, continued to torch the Bombers with his slick play in the post.Bombers had no answer as the host Cats held period leads of 16-5 and 26-9 at the half.At one stage in the second half Mount Sentinel led by as many as 24 points before the Junior Bombers applied a full-court press to cut the margin to eight points late in the game.Kie Miller had 14 for Mount Sentinel while Brandon Sookeroff added eight points. Replying for LVR were Jack Roberts with nine, Dyllan Dixon scored seven and Thomas Baxter, Josh Jolicoeur and Brock Dixon each had four.The Junior Bombers return to the court Saturday when the club hosts a one-day mini tournament.Grand Forks Wolves, Stanley Humphries of Castlegar and Boundary Central of Midway are the teams joining the Bombers in the tourney.Game begin at 11 a.m. with SHSS meeting Grand Forks.The Junior  Bombers take to the court for games at 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.Senior Bombers host Mount Baker WildThe LVR Senior Bombers, fresh off a tournament in Salmon Arm, play host to the Mount Baker Wild of Cranbrook in a two-game set beginning Friday at the Hangar.Friday’s game tips off at 7 p.m.Saturday, game time is set for 9:15 a.m.last_img read more

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EPA announces dicamba label changes

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Environmental Protection Agency Friday announced new restrictions for dicamba-based herbicides, classifying dicamba as a restricted-use product. The EPA said that only certified pesticide applicators, or people under their supervision, will be allowed to spray dicamba. The EPA also is reducing the maximum wind speed and the hours during each day when dicamba may be sprayed, and will require farmers to keep records proving they’re complying with the product label, according to Reuters. Monsanto says the EPA decision will “ensure farmers have even more success” with dicamba-based herbicides, such as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. Thousands of complaints during this growing season, and many last year, of dicamba drifting to neighboring fields not tolerant to the herbicide, prompted the announcement by the EPA.last_img read more

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Los Angeles Sparks a win away from repeating as WNBA champs

first_imgBrace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC 2 dead in California school attack; gunman shoots self PLAY LIST 03:122 dead in California school attack; gunman shoots self00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike looks toward the scoreboard after receiving treatment for a cut on the face during the second half against the Minnesota Lynx in Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. The Sparks won 75-64. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike was sporting a clear bandage under her eye Saturday. It wasn’t hiding the five stitches she received after Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles used her arm to attempt track down a rebound in the fourth quarter in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.Ogwumike was quick to say Fowles didn’t do it intentionally.ADVERTISEMENT Read Next “I saw it happening and it was like a fumble and when she went to get it she kind of flung her arm,” Ogwumike said. “It just kind of split the skin. But I think AB (Alana Beard) came up with the rebound.”It’s easy for the Sparks to find silver linings. They dominated the boards en route to beating the Lynx 75-64 in Game 3 on Friday and they’re now one win away from hoisting the WNBA Finals championship trophy Sunday at Staples Center.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe Sparks have plenty of experience given that they won last year and can become the first team since 2002 to win back-to-back titles.“I think we have players that are competitors. We have players that know the way we want to play,” Candace Parker said. “Look, I can tolerate just losing in terms of us beating beat, them beating us. We want to make sure it’s what they’re doing and not what we’re doing in a game like this. We have to take care of what we can control. Asked if she had a one-on-one talk with all of her players, Reeve simply said “no.”While the Sparks had a balanced offense, the Lynx backcourt struggled as Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen were both scoreless.“I’ve got to be more aggressive,” Augustus said. “I’ve got to get the ball. I can’t shoot air. Our offense was very stagnant. Didn’t execute the way we wanted to, so it created a lot of one-on-one situations for everything. Forces Sylvia to have to score with two people guarding her. Forces Maya to have to take contested shots. When we are efficiently flowing in our offense, I feel like no team can guard us. I wasn’t able to get as many touches because of how out of sync we were.”Reeve’s challenge to the starters was well taken.“Everything she says we know,” Moore said. “She’s very straightforward about telling us how it is. We as leaders have to continue to embrace that and do our best to improve and make changes and adjustments here and there to make sure we don’t have issues we cause ourselves.”The Sparks believe they will play well in a closeout situation.“I think we’re a different team, even from the semifinals,” Ogwumike said. “We’ve learned a lot along the way. We have experience, I guess you could say, in closing games out. Throughout the season, coach (Brian Agler) talks about winning each series. You play everybody three times and Dallas four times. I think we won every series with the exception of Dallas. We tied that series.“With that, that’s the mindset we have going in to this game. Just doing what we have to do to win this game. Everyone is pretty focused on that.” Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  LATEST STORIES Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Video games in the Olympics? Here’s how it might work Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight MOST READ “We can control how hard we rebound and how hard we play defensively, how we move offensively, the pace with which we play. That’s what’s important in this game, keeping both eyes on the journey.”The Sparks could envision hoisting that trophy with their fans — there was a sellout crowd of 13,500 Friday in Game 3 — and how nice that would feel. Last year, the Sparks won in Minnesota.The Lynx face elimination but can force a Game 5 in Minnesota on Wednesday with a win. They were in a similar situation last year and forced a fifth game.Fowles said she and Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve had a one-on-one conversation Saturday morning.“I think for the most part we respond well when our backs are against the wall,” Fowles said. “I don’t like those back-up-against-the-wall type of situations. Unfortunately, that’s where we are at this point. You just have to keep fighting and battling and take what comes, that’s Game 4. If we want to stay alive in this thing we have to make sure we’re energized and into what’s going on.”ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more

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Global Citizen Festival: Coldplay, AR Rahman, Big B stun the audience with their acts

first_imgOne of the biggest events to be held in India, Global Citizen Festival started with a bang. The line-up of the entire concert was revealed, and much to the delight of the Coldplay fans, the British rock band got a lot of stage time.Yep, you read that right.Also see–Global Citizen Festival: Farhan Akhtar’s big bash for Coldplay’s Chris Martin was a star-studded affair [email protected] now addresses the crowd and talks about the 17 SDGs and their importance. #GlobalCitizenIndia Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016The show kickstarted with a welcome talk by Bollywood stars Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, which was followed by Sonakshi Sinha’s smashing performance.American pop singer Demi Lovato took the stage at 3:30 pm, and sang a number of her hit tracks. The shehenshah of the Hindi film industry, Amitabh Bachchan’s performance with the Shillong Choir amazed everyone, and was one of the big highlights of the event.Farhan Akhtar then rocked the concert as he sang popular numbers like Sindabad the Sailor and Rock On. Later, Shah Rukh Khan made his presence felt at as he gave a charming introduction of both AR Rahman and Jay Z. The star also urged the audience to do their bit to help make the world a better place. And finally, Jay Z set the stage on fire with his amazing vocals. Jay Z’s smashing act was followed by Bollywood star Ranveer Singh’s act. And wait for it, finally, British rock band Coldplay took the stage around 8 pm for 90 MINUTES.advertisementAnother interesting thing which caught everyone’s attention was that all the celebs at the event were seen sporting a Masaba Gupta t-shirt designed exclusively for the grand event. [email protected] and his band are on stage now, and the Global Citizens are stirred by their soulful music. pic.twitter.com/5kQMIp6jJi Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016 As far as the concert was concerned, the show went on as beloved singer Arijit Singh took the stage and performed his hit tracks with his band.As mentioned earlier, Sonakshi Sinha  also took the stage. The talented actress sung Honey Singh’s number, and made the crowd sway with her act.  The multi-talented @sonakshisinha has taken the stage and she’s ready to rock. #GlobalCitizenIndia pic.twitter.com/P1H2FqNzd6 Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Shankar, Ehsaan, and Loy’s musical act, which included the Kal Ho Naa Ho hit title track, also helped set the mood of the event.”Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi…” sing along with @ShankarEhsanLoy #GlobalCitizenIndia pic.twitter.com/3sHvj2Mrb5 Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Actress-singer Shraddha Kapoor’s soulful voice also drove the Mumbai crowd to a frenzy. American pop singer Demi Lovato also performed her famous hits at the concert, much to the delight of those present.Here we go again! @aliaa08 welcome @ddlovato on stage. #GlobalCitizenIndia #Excitement went through the roof. pic.twitter.com/m9vdFe75eh Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Later, Amitabh Bachchan stunned the audience with his performance as he took the stage with Shillong Choir, and sung a track from his recent movie, Pink.So THIS is happening!!! @SrBachchan ON STAGE with the @Shillong_SCC #GlobalCitizenIndia ? pic.twitter.com/HN0kbibdON Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016 Although, not all the celebs were there to perform. Bollywood celebrities Sonam Kapoor and Karan Johar gave speeches on the importance of gender equality, and swore to end poverty. Their speeches were followed by Farhan Akhtar’s mind-blowing Rock On 2 act. Farhan was later joined by Big B as they both sang Atrangi Yaari from their film Wazir.Amazing duo on stage @SrBachchan, @FarOutAkhtar .Highlight of the day! #GlobalCitizenIndia pic.twitter.com/si8vcgyb3N Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Are you ready to #RockOn? @FarOutAkhtar is all set to blow your minds away with some phenomenal music! #GlobalCitizenIndia Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Towards the evening, Bollywood’s king Shah Rukh Khan introduced the maestro of Madras on the stage to a thunderous applause. And obviously, Rahman blew everyone’s mind with his unforgettable performance.  He has left us all mesmerised. @arrahman #GlobalCitizenIndia pic.twitter.com/iVBP3QF5vg Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Rahman’s dazzling act was followed by another entertaining performance. British rock pop band, The Vamps, took the stage next and left the fans asking for more. advertisementAfter Rahman, SRK went on to introduce another musician. Any guesses who are we talking about? Yep, American rapper Jay Z performed next, and the crowd went crazy. Obviously.   Jay Z takes the stage @glblctznIN! #BrooklynComesToMumbai pic.twitter.com/anNciTHPh0 Global Citizen (@GlblCtzn) November 19, 2016The final leg of the event was super-entertaining, thanks to performers like Ranveer Singh and of course, Coldplay.Ranveer Singh shook the stage with his dance performance.  [email protected] Bajirao is on stage now and he stirs up the audience with his electrifying performance. #GlobalCitizenIndia Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed the public, and commended everyone’s effort in helping the world make a better place. The Prime Minister drew some laughs when he said that he would make his speech short, as he was aware that the audience had been eagerly looking forward to the Coldplay performance.I know that I stand between you and Cold Play and so will make this brief: PM @narendramodi begins his remarks at @glblctznIN PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 19, 2016And finally, popular rock band Coldplay took the stage to an audience uproar around 8:30 pm. The band performed its hit tracks like A Head Full of Dreams, and Yellow. Their performance was one of the main highlights of the event. The band even performed with AR Rahman on the latter’s rendition of Vande Mataram. And it was magical.COLDPLAY HAS ARRIVED !!! #Finally ! ??????? pic.twitter.com/mtORr3pGjr Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Needless to add that the Global Citizen Festival India 2016 was a great success, thanks to the amazing performances, and the great number of people who showed up at the concert.Simply loving the energy!!! ??????? @coldplay #GlobalCitizenFestivalIndia pic.twitter.com/DJsQbHwFy6 Global Citizen India (@glblctznIN) November 19, 2016Also, people who couldn’t get entry were happy as well, as they saw the entire event on their TV screens, thanks to Vh1 that streamed the entire show live.last_img read more

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VAWDON CUP SET TO COMMENCE IN STYLE

first_imgThe New South Wales Touch Association’s (NSWTA) 32nd Annual Vawdon Cup is set to commence at the Bankstown and Tempe venues this Friday 20 July 2007.At a time when the NSWTA celebrates its 35th Anniversary, and hosts a State Conference for affiliates and the “Blues Dinner” to recognise outstanding statewide achievement and service to the sport at all levels, it is only fitting that the prestigious tournament commences for 2007 on such an important weekend. Friday afternoon around 3.00 pm players from all over Sydney will start getting edgy, they’ll go over game plans in their heads, eat a small pre-game meal (that is if the butterflies in their stomach haven’t taken up too much space,) they’ll visualize making the touch that really matters, or scoring the touchdown that really counts… and most importantly, not mistiming the celebratory “Hi-five”, and getting nothing but air.I believe it’s called a “Billy” after a certain Australian Women’s Open Captain who suffered this unfortunate fate several years ago…Players will also use their Friday afternoon wisely by thinking up a good sledge to throw at Garry Sonda; you’re not playing him tonight, but if you jog past on the warm-up and he’s defending the line you’ll give the new material a run, it’s six months since he got you at the State Cup, so yeah, you’ll go with it …You try it out at home on the dog first, it doesn’t fly, so you concede that you “really do have nothing” and “GS7” is still the Sultan of Sledge…Then there’s the psychological preparation – left sock on before right, (everyone knows that’s the secret to having a good game).Players will calmly dust off the boots, rug up for the expectant winter chill, pack the bananas, red frogs, and PowerAde in the kit bag, and walk out the door hoping against hope that the traffic will be kind to them on the way to “The Show”… You don’t get far, you remember you’ve forgotten your playing shirt and have to go back inside to retrieve your uniform.You then proceed to turn the house upside down for the next 30 minutes trying to locate the missing shirt…It’s all part of opening night preparations for players in Sydney’s premier affiliate based Touch Football competition.Elite representatives in NSW have had a long lay off from higher-level Touch Football with the National Touch League in March their last big foray into the competitive cauldron.For some elite players, their last serious game of Touch Football was at the 2007 World Cup in January, and for others it was further back to the State Cup in December 2006…. no wonder you can’t find your playing shirt…The Vawdon Cup is named in honour of Ray Vawdon, one of Touch Football’s founding members in Australia. The competition caters for Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed grades across 10 divisions including Premier, Division 1 and 2, Masters and Seniors and is played over ten weeks plus a finals series across five key Sydney venues; Parramatta, Bankstown, Tempe, Penrith and Blacktown. New South Wales Touch Association Operations Manager Rob Summers said the weekly-based challenge of the Vawdon Cup provided participants with a level of competition unsurpassed at affiliate level.As opposed to knockout competitions, the Vawdon Cup’s format tests teams over an extended period of time. Summers said the experience and skills that players gained through the competition was invaluable. “It’s probably one of the best groundings for players to improve on a week-to-week basis. They basically start training six or eight weeks out from the competition. It’s unlike a knockout or a State Cup where they do the same but it’s all over and done with within a week. Their performances have to be much better; the players have to be more on their game than they would in a knockout competition. Basically we’re looking at testing the players’ mettle against each other,” Summers said.  The Vawdon Cup has a reputation for having fierce competition throughout the divisions. 2007 will be no different. Friday night’s action in the Premier Division in Men’s and Women’s Open is sure to produce some fantastic clashes as players look to get their team’s 2007 season off to a flyer.At Bankstown in the 7.00pm clash in the Premier League’s Men’s division, the Parramatta Eels will take on last year’s surprise packets Easts Roosters.2007 Australian Men’s Open World Cup star Jamie Stowe, and the talented Jai and Troy Malcolm will spearhead the Eels campaign in ’07, and the addition of Dean “Pumper” Wilbow is sure to give the Eels more potency on the scoreline.Easts will look to the likes of Christian Frost and Chris Johnson, and Jarrat Wood to lead the way in 2007.Last year’s Premier Division Men’s Grand finalists Canterbury Bulldogs get their campaign underway when they take on the Manly Sea Eagles at 7.50pm at Tempe.The star studded Doggies line-up features 2007 Australian World Cup Open representatives Garry Sonda, Joel Willoughby, and Steve Roberts who are sure to provide the framework for the Canterbury combination’s tilt at this year’s title.Manly, who are in a rebuilding phase, will lean on the experience of Jamie Chan and a host of Scorpions National Touch League representatives to lead their charge.Defending Premiers the Penrith Panthers get their title defence underway with an intriguing clash with competition newcomers the Hornsby Lions at Bankstown at 8.40pm.The Panthers have lost 2006 Captain Jason Yee to the Western Suburbs Magpies, but have retained their core of young guns who will be hell bent on going back to back in 2007.Under the astute coaching of David Collins, the Panthers will look to the three Springfield brothers Adam, Dean, and new boy Daniel to headline the campaign, with the experience of Chris Benfield and Scotty Danswan sure to be an invaluable asset to the Panthers hopes of back-to-back titles. Collins was ecstatic with his team’s epic 8-7 Drop-off victory in the 2006 Vawdon Cup Grand Final against Canterbury and believes he has a team capable of pressing for the title again.He said winning the title had made his players more confident, but he expected tougher competition again this year.“It seems to get stronger every year. Any one of the eight teams could beat anybody on any given night, which makes it really interesting each week. It will be tough to win. The best thing about the Vawdon Cup is the strength of the competition week in week out as well as being with your closest mates every Friday night and trying to achieve a common goal, ” Collins said.Hornsby have an equally impressive Youth driven line-up, with the fleet footed Kennedy brothers John and Maurice, and the talented Dylan Hennessey providing the backbone to a team that is sure to trouble a lot of outfits and play an exciting brand of Touch Football in 2007.The gifted Dave Roberts provides the impetus and knockout punch for the Hornsby team and will be a potent weapon when most needed for the dangerous combination.In the late game in the Premier Division, 2006 State Cup champions, the Western Suburbs Magpies, will get their Vawdon Cup campaign underway when they square off against the Cronulla Sharks at Tempe at 9.30pm.The Magpies welcome Jason Yee into the fold, and the likes of 2007 Australian World Cup players Jason Stanton, Daniel Rushworth, Scott Mitchell, and Anthony Ziade give the Wests line-up an imposing “World 14” look across the park.Cronulla, led by 2007 Australian World Cup Mixed Open stars Brad “BJ” Holden and Matt Tope will be looking to get out of cellar dweller city in season 2007.Australian Men’s Open Coach Tony Trad, the former long time mentor of Wests, and in his second season in charge of Cronulla, will do his utmost to devise a game plan to counter the slick Western Suburbs combination on Friday night.In the Women’s Premier League, Manly and Canterbury get the season underway when they clash at Tempe at 7.00pm.Last year’s Grand finalists the Canterbury Bulldogs ooze class and skill across the board with the star-studded line-up featuring 2007 Australian Open World Cup stars sisters Clare and Louise “Squeeze” Winchester, Belinda Gretch, and the tireless Kelly Woods, who also has the best head snap in the business.Manly have a core of solid soldiers and a number of players of New Zealand origin who are capable of causing headaches to teams who underestimate them. The marquee clash on Friday night however, will be Premiers Easts Roosters against newcomers to the Premier League division, the Woolongong Devils.Easts, who have been the benchmark of the competition for many years, will again look to their stable of National World Cup Open representatives to lead the way in 2007. Easts have retained the majority of their premiership winning team from 2006 and will be looking to build into the season and put their well-heeled combinations together to impose themselves on the competition. Mercurial wonder twins Amanda and Kristy Judd, the inspirational Melissa Pitfield, Australian Mixed Open players Selene Thornton and Stephanie Sorensen, and the evergreen Giselle Tirado all offer guidance and guile to the champion outfit who will want to continue their impressive domination of the Vawdon Cup.The Wollongong Devils won the Division 1 Women’s in 2006 and their host of talented National Youth stars have made the quantum leap to Premier League to test themselves against the best.The three musketeers Nicole “Sero” Beck, Ash Dobbins, and Amanda Skwarko will lead the charge of the young brigade, with impressive National Youth squad members Stephanie Jackson and Biannca Mounsey also looking forward to the challenge of testing their games in the big time.Western Suburbs Magpies take on the Cronulla Sharks at Tempe in the 8.40pm timeslot.Led by Australian Women’s Open World Cup star Bo de la Cruz, the Wests combination will be looking to get the season off to a winning start against a young Cronulla combination.Australian Women’s Open player Dom Barlow, Jess Howe, and Jo Nelson will be the guiding lights for Cronulla, whilst de le Cruz, has young guns Tina and Tara Mohi in the ranks to bolster the Magpies aspirations.In the late game at Bankstown at 9.30pm, Penrith Panthers take on the Central Coast Dolphins, in what shapes as a close contest.Central Coast turned in a solid season in 2006 finishing fifth, and will be looking to the likes of their Australian Mixed Open squad member Karina Castle, and former Youth World Cup National player Kristy Jenkins, to lift them up the competition standings in 2007.Penrith are in a rebuilding phase and have a line-up that features a plethora of Mets 20s Women’s players who will be striving to build and grow as a team during the season.Action also commences in Division 1 and Division 2 Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed, as well as Seniors and Masters Mens grades on Friday night.To all competitors in the 2007 Vawdon Cup, best of luck for a rewarding season.And if you can’t find your playing shirt on Friday afternoon after searching for it for five solid seconds, ask your Mum, that’ll ensure you at least get to the game on time…. And remember, left sock before right sock…Touch Football Australia will feature regular weekly wraps with all the news and views from the New South Wales Touch Association’s Vawdon Cup in 2007.last_img read more

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