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Max Malins: Saracens full-back out for three months after breaking foot against Exeter

Max Malins made his Sarries debut against Scarlets in January 2017

Saracens full-back Max Malins has had surgery to repair a broken foot, ruling him out for three months.

The 23-year-old former England Under-20 international suffered the injury in Sarries’ 14-7 defeat at Premiership leaders Exeter on 29 December.

He will now begin a rehabilitation programme following Monday’s successful operation but is expected to be out of action until April.

Saracens are bottom of the Premiership table on -7 points.

The reigning champions were docked 35 points and fined £5.36m in November for breaching salary cap regulations.

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Civil partnerships: First mixed-sex unions take place

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan

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Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan took their fight for civil partnerships to the Supreme Court

One of the first mixed-sex couples to become civil partners hailed it as a “unique, special and personal moment”.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who won a legal battle for the right to heterosexual civil partnerships, celebrated at Kensington and Chelsea Register Office in west London.

Previously, the law only allowed same-sex couples to be civil partners.

About 84,000 mixed-sex couples could form civil partnerships next year, the government says.

Introduced for same-sex couples in 2005, civil partnerships offer almost identical rights as marriage, including property, inheritance and tax entitlements.

After Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage, the rules were changed to make them available to everyone.

Speaking on the steps of the register office, Ms Steinfeld said their “personal wish” to form a civil partnership came from a “desire to formalise our relationship in a more modern way, with a focus on equality, and mutual respect”.

She said: “So today is a unique, special and personal moment for us, a moment that we’ve been able to affirm our love and commitment to one another in the company of our beautiful children, Eden and Ariel, and close friends.”

Ms Steinfeld said it creates “new, modern possibilities” for thousands of people to express their love and commitment and ends “the unrivalled position of marriage”.

She called for “deeper discussions” on giving legal recognition to other kinds of caring relationships, including those between friends, siblings and co-parents.

Mr Keidan said they succeeded in their legal battle “against all odds” but added that their mental health has suffered under the strain.

Five years after being refused permission to give notice of a heterosexual civil partnership, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan will finally become civil partners today.

Their conscientious objection to marriage and what they saw as its patriarchal associations led to a lengthy legal battle culminating in a unanimous Supreme Court ruling last year that the law was discriminatory and breached their right to a family and private life.

The government changed the law, opening such a union to the majority of the UK’s 3.3 million co-habiting heterosexual couples.

Many believe they are already protected by so-called “common law marriages”, but these do not exist.

As a result, they do not enjoy the same property, inheritance and tax entitlements as married couples and civil partners.

The government estimates as many as 84,000 mixed sex couples could become civil partners this year, giving them greater rights and protections within their relationships, without having to get married.

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Julie Thorpe and Keith Lomax are among thousands of opposite sex couples that are set to enter into a civil partnership

Another couple, Julie Thorpe, 61, and Keith Lomax, 70, said they were looking forward to being among the first mixed-sex people to officially enter a civil partnership – but it would not change their relationship “one jot”.

The couple from near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, have been living together for most of their 37-year relationship and have three children.

They will have a civil partnership ceremony at a register office in Halifax.

Ms Thorpe said: “It won’t change our relationship one jot. It will not make any difference to how we behave towards each other when we get up the next day.

“We have had a very successful relationship for 37 years and a bit of paper is not going to make any difference to that whatsoever. It does give us some legal protection within that relationship.”

Mr Lomax, a human rights lawyer, added: “It is a mutual celebration of all of those and also of the people who actually brought the case to court and changed the law in the first place, because that was a very brave and bold thing to do at considerable financial risk.”

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Croydon stabbing: Man, 60, found injured in street dies

Woodcroft Road

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The victim was found suffering from stab wounds outside a property in Woodcroft Road

A 60-year-old man has been stabbed to death in a residential street in south London.

Police and ambulance crews were called to reports of a stabbing in Woodcroft Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon, at 21:30 GMT on Monday.

The victim was found outside a property with knife injuries and was pronounced dead at 21:49, the Met Police said.

A 50-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and taken into custody.

The suspect became unwell while in custody and was transferred to hospital where he is in a stable condition, police said.

Det Ch Insp Simon Harding said: “The victim was found injured in a residential street. While it is not a heavy footfall location, there may have been members of the public travelling through Woodcroft Road who saw something.

“I urge those people to come forward and speak to my officers without delay.

“No matter how insignificant you think it may be please do make the call.

“We are building the sequence of events leading up to and immediately following this attack which has led to a man’s death, your call could complete the picture.”

Inquiries into the circumstances continue.

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Serial rapist Joseph McCann given 33 life sentences

Joseph McCann

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Joseph McCann was found guilty of 37 offences against 11 victims

A serial rapist who carried out a string of sex attacks on 11 women and children across England has been given 33 life sentences.

Joseph McCann’s victims were aged between 11 and 71 and included three women who were abducted off the street at knifepoint and repeatedly raped.

He was found guilty of 37 offences at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Mr Justice Edis said McCann, who must serve a minimum of 30 years, was “a threat to children” and “a paedophile”.

The judge described him as a “classic psychopath” and called for an “independent and systematic” investigation into why “the system failed to protect” McCann’s victims.

The convicted burglar had been released from prison following a probation error in February before he embarked on a cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage.

The 34-year-old’s “spree of sex attacks” started in Watford in April before he moved to London, Greater Manchester and Cheshire over a two-week period.

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Media captionJoseph McCann arrested up a tree in Cheshire

Sentencing McCann at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Edis described him as “a coward, a violent bully and a paedophile”.

He said his victims would probably “never properly recover”, adding: “This was a campaign of rape, violence and abduction of a kind which I have never seen or heard of before.”

Vodka bottle

On 21 April, McCann grabbed a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint as she walked home from a nightclub in Watford and took her to a house where he raped her.

Four days later, a 25-year-old woman was abducted as she walked home in Walthamstow, east London, just after midnight. She was then repeatedly raped in a number of locations over 14 hours.

Later the same day, he snatched a 21-year-old woman in Edgware, north London, as she walked along the street with her sister.

The pair finally managed to escape when McCann drove to Watford, where he had booked a hotel room, and one of them hit him over the head with a vodka bottle before they fled to get help.

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McCann was filmed on CCTV at a Watford hotel where he had booked a room for two nights

In the early hours of 5 May, McCann tricked his way into the home of a woman he had met in a bar in Greater Manchester.

Once inside, he tied her to a bed and molested her 11-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, telling them: “You are going to Europe tomorrow – you are mine.”

The girl, who said she feared becoming a sex slave, managed to escape by jumping naked from a window, and she alerted police.

McCann then abducted and raped a 71-year-old woman and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl he had taken from the street.

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Media captionFootage shows dramatic Joseph McCann police chase

On 5 May, McCann abducted two 14-year-old girls after threatening to “chop them up with a machete”.

After crashing his car when a patrol vehicle gave chase, a police helicopter finally located him up a tree. He was coaxed down and arrested early on 6 May.

In a victim impact statement, the 25-year-old woman who was subjected to a 14-hour ordeal spoke about how she deeply traumatised she is.

She said she was paying for her own therapy because there was an eight-month to one-year wait for NHS treatment and criticised the “under-resourcing” of services for survivors.

Three days after delivering their guilty verdicts, the 12 jurors returned to the Old Bailey for sentencing.

They didn’t have to be in court but they clearly wanted to see the conclusion of a most traumatic case.

Two of McCann’s victims, a teenage girl and her mother, were also present, having travelled to London from the north-west of England.

The teenager, who in May had jumped naked from a first-floor window to bring her ordeal to an end and save her mother and younger brother, was praised by the judge for her courage, as he added some personal observations after the formal sentencing process had ended.

Mr Justice Edis said he’d read statements from all the victims about the impact of McCann’s campaign of sexual violence and wished them all well.

“I hope that things turn out for them as well as we all hope they will, rather than as we fear they might,” the judge said, surely echoing the thoughts and feelings of everyone at today’s hearing.

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McCann was filmed at a McDonald’s while one of his victims was in the car

The court heard that McCann had 10 meetings with probation officers following his release in February, and his last meeting with an officer in Watford took place three days before the sex attacks began.

McCann was served with a warning letter because he had failed to inform authorities of a new relationship, in breach of his licence conditions.

The officer wrote that McCann was “not happy” about this and thought he was being treated unfairly, the court heard.

Regarding his two-week engagement, McCann explained that “if you get with someone in the travelling community then you marry them”.

The officer revealed that when the woman’s parents found out about the licence condition, they broke off the relationship because they thought he was a sex offender.

McCann, who had addresses in Aylesbury and Harrow, refused to attend his Old Bailey trial and hid under a prison blanket rather than give evidence.

He also failed to attend his sentencing, citing a “bad back”.

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London Bridge: Families mourn victims at vigil

The family of Jack Merritt take part in a vigil at the Guildhall in Cambridge

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The family of Jack Merritt take part in a vigil at the Guildhall in Cambridge

Vigils for the victims of the London Bridge attack have been held in London and Cambridge.

Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were commemorated at the services, which included a minute’s silence.

They were stabbed to death by convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, at a prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday.

The BBC has learned Khan was under investigation by MI5 when he left prison a year ago but given one of the lowest priorities.

Mr Merritt and Ms Jones were both graduates of the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology and had been taking part in an event for its Learning Together programme – which focuses on education within the criminal justice system – when they were attacked.

Mr Merritt’s family and his girlfriend attended the service in Cambridge outside the Guildhall.

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Media captionLondon Bridge: Cambridge vigils held for attack victims

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were among those at the vigil at the Guildhall in the City of London.

They were joined London Mayor Sadiq Khan who said the best way to defeat the hatred shown in the attack was to focus on the values of hope, unity and love.

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Jack Merritt was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Saskia Jones a volunteer

“The best way to defeat this hatred is not by turning on one another, but it’s by focussing on the values that bind us, to take hope from the heroism of ordinary Londoners and our emergency services who ran towards danger, risking their lives to help people they didn’t even know,” he said.

The London service happened less than a mile from Fishmongers’ Hall, where Usman Khan launched his attack on Friday.

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Media captionA moment of silence was held at the vigil for the victims in London

Bishop of London Sarah Mullally said the vigils remembered “academics celebrating rehabilitation and finding only danger”.

She paid tribute to the workers at Fishmongers’ Hall, who she said went to work to offer hospitality, but found themselves needing to give protection.

A book of condolences is open at Guildhall Art Gallery and members of the public are invited to lay flowers outside nearby Mansion House.

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The vigil in Guildhall Yard in London was led by Bishop of London Sarah Mullally

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Members of the public also paid their tributes

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A vigil was also held at Anglia Ruskin University, where Saskia Jones attended before taking her masters at Cambridge

The victims’ families paid tribute to their loved ones over the weekend.

Mr Merritt was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Ms Jones a volunteer

Ms Jones’s family said their daughter, from Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, had a “great passion” for supporting victims of criminal justice.

In a statement, Mr Merritt’s family described him as a “talented boy” who “died doing what he loved”.

Mr Merritt’s father went on to criticise the Daily Mail and Daily Express newspapers for their coverage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to review licence conditions placed on convicted terrorists released from jail.

On Twitter, David Merritt shared images of the Mail and Express front pages – which reported a “blitz on freed jihadis” – and wrote: “Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his colleague’s photos – to promote your vile propaganda. Jack stood against everything you stand for – hatred, division, ignorance.”

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Jack Merritt’s family said he was ‘looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend, Leanne’

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The family of Saskia Jones said her death “will leave a huge void in our lives”

Cambridge University’s vice-chancellor Prof Stephen J Toope said he was “devastated to learn that among the victims were staff and alumni”.

Toby Williamson, chief executive of Fishmongers’ Hall, praised the bravery of his staff who intervened to stop the attacker, hailing their actions as “extraordinary things done by ordinary people”.

Mr Williamson told how Polish chef Lukasz suffered five wounds to his left-hand side as he fended off the knifeman with a narwhal tusk during “about a minute of one-on-one straight combat” – allowing others time to escape danger.

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Media captionThe chief executive of Fishmongers Hall, Commodore Toby Williamson describes how his staff fought back

Two others grabbed makeshift weapons including a fire extinguisher before the attacker fled down a staircase and then got trapped in reception.

Dr Vin Diwakar, medical director for the NHS in London, said two people injured in the attack remained in a stable condition in hospital, while one had been able to return home.

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Media captionVideo footage shows moment London Bridge attacker was apprehended

‘Minimal risk’

Khan, who was released from prison in December 2018 after serving half of his sentence, was shot dead by police on London Bridge.

The BBC understands Khan was formally under investigation by MI5 as he left jail but placed in the second-to-bottom category of investigations as his initial risk to the public was thought to be minimal.

This was consistent with the grading given to most other convicted terrorist offenders as they go back into the community under a release licence.

A low level of prioritisation is assigned to offenders such as Khan because their release comes with a strict set of licence conditions.

These conditions theoretically provide suitable monitoring and oversight, such as alerts if they contact other suspects or travel outside an approved area.

Khan, the BBC has learned, was on the highest-level of such community monitoring. The overall package, in theory, relives pressure on MI5 so the security service can focus on more immediate threats.

Licence review

The prime minister said on Sunday that 74 people jailed for terror offences and released early will have their licence conditions reviewed.

Later that day, Staffordshire Police said a 34-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts – but added there was no information to suggest the man was involved in the London Bridge attack.

The man has been named as Nazam Hussain, who was jailed in 2012 alongside Usman Khan and received the same sentence – 16 years with half of that served in prison – after pleading guilty to preparing acts of terrorism.

Following his arrest, Hussain was recalled to prison due to a suspected breach of his licence conditions. Inquiries by detectives into the potential terrorism offences are continuing, police said.

Another man, Yayha Rashid, 23, of north London, has been charged following his arrest on Sunday on suspicion of breaching notification requirements.

The Metropolitan Police said Rashid’s arrest was not connected with the London Bridge attack.

Friday’s incident comes after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on 4 November from “severe” to “substantial”, meaning that attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.

The terror threat level is reviewed every six months by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which makes recommendations independent of government.

Friday’s attack took place close to where eight people died and 48 were injured by three men who drove into pedestrians on London Bridge, before stabbing people in Borough Market in June 2017.



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Blue Story: UK cinema ban called ‘institutionally racist’

Stephen Odubola, Rapman and Micheal Ward

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“Institutionally racist”, “a negative bias”, “a systematic and targeted attack”.

These are some of the ways a ban on Rapman’s Blue Story by two UK cinema chains has been described.

Vue and Showcase Cinemas have seen a backlash to their decision to pull the film after a fight broke out at a Vue cinema in Birmingham on Saturday.

Both chains say the decision was made to ensure the safety of customers, but some people have been asking why one brawl has affected the whole of the country.

West Midlands Police said the force did not ask for or recommend the film be pulled following Saturday’s violence.

On the weekend, the hashtags #NoBlueNoVue and #BoycottVue were trending on Twitter.

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Media captionBlue Story is the tale of two friends who become rivals

Vue says the decision to withdraw the film “was not one taken lightly or without careful consideration”.

It says the filmed open across 60 of its sites on Friday, but during the first 24 hours over “25 significant incidents were reported and escalated to senior management in 16 separate cinemas”.

“This is the biggest number we have ever seen for any film in a such a short time frame.”

It says the film wasn’t pulled based on “biased assumptions”.

What’s the backlash?

Blue Story follows the life of Timmy who lives in Lewisham but goes to school in Peckham – two parts of south-east London that have a notorious gang rivalry.

Its director Rapman said the film is about “love not violence”.

“People are calling the ban discriminatory and institutionally racist,” Sheila Knowles, who’s 24 and runs black events company BBE, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“Why is it that the movie is being pulled out of cinemas nationwide when it only happened in one cinema?

“A lot of people are very agitated because it just seems like a very systematic and targeted attack.”

Some people on Twitter have questioned why Blue Story has been pulled when that didn’t happen to The Dark Knight Rises.

A mass shooting – which killed 12 people – took place during a screening of the Batman film in the US in 2012 – but it remained in cinemas.

William Adoasi, 29, saw the film last week and says it’s “incredible”.

“If anyone’s actually seen Blue Story, they realise that it shows how empty the gangster lifestyle is and and how that street lifestyle is actually robbing people of friendships and relationships.”

He says the decisions made by Vue and Showcase highlighted “negative biases instantly”.

“If a white filmmaker created a film, and it caused an uproar, people would not attribute that to all white people,” he says.

“They wouldn’t shut down every cinema because of one incident. But you’ve got to ask yourself, why have they done that in this instance? And that’s why it’s really upsetting.”

But Errol Lawson, a reformed gangster from Birmingham, said the film was “stirring up” violence.

“The spirit behind it is stirring up this undercurrent, or supporting or fuelling this undercurrent, this narrative of violence, youth violence and disregard for life,” he said.

Sheila compares the Blue Story ban to the lack of response to claims there was a rise in anti-Muslim incidents in 2015 following the release of US war film American Sniper.

“It’s just showing that you know, we’re not going to value your art as much as we’re going to value mainstream white art,” she says.

“It just really reinforces the idea that black British art is a threat.”

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Rapman told Newsbeat he hoped people who don’t know much about gang culture would see Blue Story

And both Sheila and William are concerned about how this might impact on young black creatives and entrepreneurs.

“This may may slow down the production of people’s art and it may even put off investors,” says William.

“If I wanted to now create a film, an investor’s going to think twice about investing into my project, because they’ve seen another young black person’s film get shut down.

“Unfortunately for us, within our demographic, if one person gets shut down, people often view that as a representation of all.”

Vue says the decision to pull Blue Story was not based on “biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself”.

In a statement it added: “Blue Story is a fantastic film and one with a very powerful message. It is a film that has the opportunity to change lives. We hope that Blue Story achieves the success it deserves and importantly its message does not get lost.”

Newsbeat has contacted Showcase for comment on the allegations.

How often are films pulled?

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The Hunt, featuring Hillary Swank, was due to be released on 27 September

It’s rare for a film to be taken out of the cinema after it’s been classified and released.

In September, a film called The Hunt – a satirical thriller about a group of people in the US who are being hunted by rich people for fun – was pulled from cinemas by its distributor before it was released.

One cinema in California reportedly cancelled screenings of the Joker after a “credible” threat was made.

Paramount – which is the distributor for Blue Story – says it is “saddened” by the events in Birmingham but said the movie was “important”

“We feel that this is an important film, which we’ve seen play in more than 300 cinemas across the country, with incredibly positive reactions and fantastic reviews.”

What have big UK cinema chains said about Blue Story?

Showcase Cinemas says its decision to pull Blue Story after the Vue incident was made after “careful consideration”.

“The safety of our guests is of the utmost importance,” it says in a statement.

“We remain in discussions with the distributor with regards to the possibility of re-introducing the film in due course.

“We apologise for any inconvenience but guest safety remains our top priority.”

Vue said the decision to remove the film was because “the safety and welfare of our customers and staff is always our first priority”.

Odeon has said while it was not withdrawing the film, it had “a number of security measures in place” for Blue Story screenings.

Newsbeat has contacted Cineworld for a comment.

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Eddie Jones wary England’s Saracens stars may focus on club relegation fight

Saracens contributed eight players to the England World Cup squad, more than any other Premiership club

England head coach Eddie Jones fears some Saracens players could skip the Six Nations campaign to help their club avoid relegation after a 35-point deduction for salary cap breaches.

The deduction leaves the Premiership champions bottom of the table. They have also been fined £5.3m.

Sarries supplied six of the team who started for England in the 32-12 defeat to South Africa in the World Cup final.

“It could have a significant impact,” Jones told BBC Sport.

“It’s something we need to weigh up and look at very carefully.”

Saracens have decided not to appeal against the punishments imposed upon them for infringements over the past three seasons so go from third place to bottom of the Premiership on -22 points, 26 behind second-bottom Leicester.

Jones selected six of their players for the final in Yokohama, led by captain Owen Farrell. The others were Mako and Billy Vunipola, hooker Jamie George, second-row Maro Itoje and full-back Elliott Daly, who is yet to play for the club after his summer move from Wasps.

“Obviously there may be some dislocation between Saracens players and the rest of the clubs,” Jones said. “That’s a reality.

“So we may have to work to mend those relationships a bit harder, and there might be some Saracens players who feel like they’ve got to play for their club instead of their country, to make sure they don’t go down. So we’ll weigh all those up as they come about.”

Jones has won the Six Nations twice with England, as well as taking them to this year’s World Cup final

‘I didn’t realise how strong the class structure was’

Ensuring any issues between Saracens players and the rest of the squad do not do any damage is the latest challenge Jones must face as England coach.

Earlier he told BBC Radio 5 Live that the biggest hurdle he faced when he first took the job in January 2016 was getting to grips with the cultural differences within the group.

“I didn’t realise the how strong the class structure was in England, and how that affects the relationships between the players,” the Australian said.

“When you look at the England team from the outside it looks like a very homogeneous group but in fact it’s very diverse and there probably hasn’t been enough understanding of the diversity of the group.

“We spent a lot of time in our World Cup prep making sure we understood the value of diversity.”

A report this year revealed that 37% of male British rugby union internationals came from fee-paying schools.

Jones, who hails from a working class suburb of Sydney, was asked whether the difference came down to the stereotypical rugby divide of “posh public schoolboys and state school kids”.

“Something like that, yeah,” he said.

“If you’ve got a group of people in here now and you’ve got five Japanese people, five Australians and five South Africans, they’ll tend to congregate together and that’s OK if they’re not playing as a team.

“But if those 15 are playing as a team then you want that to be completely mixed, and they’re the subtle things I was reasonably slow to pick up on.”

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Jack London: Medals of first British black Olympian up for sale

Jack London

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John “Jack” London was the first black British athlete to win an Olympic medal

The first Olympic medals to be won by a black British athlete are being put up for auction.

Valued at more than £3,500, the medals belonged to John “Jack” London, who won a bronze and silver medal in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

The collection featured on the BBC’s Antiques Road Show when his great niece Christine Downham, from Rossendale, had them valued.

She hopes they will be placed in a museum.

Mr London was born in 1905 in British Guiana, now Guyana. He moved to London as a baby, had a spell back in British Guiana before returning to London.

He scooped a bronze medal in the 4×4 100m relay and a silver medal in the 100m sprint.

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The collection has been valued at more than £3,500

Mrs Downham, said the medals had “just been stuck in a cupboard where no one can see them”.

She added: “Because my great uncle was the first black athlete to win Olympic medals for Great Britain, perhaps his collection deserves to be in a museum.

“We’re very proud of his achievements. The medals came to me after my dad passed away four years ago. He loved talking about Jack.”

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London (second from bottom) won silver in the 100m sprint in 1928

The 60-year old retired pub licensee said the Antiques Roadshow experts told her the items were worth at least £3,500.

“I never met Jack but my dad did,” she continued.

“Apparently, he was quite a character and a bit of a ladies’ man. He was very talented. He was academic, brilliant at sport and very musical. He ended up on stage and in a film.”

The items, which also include a trophy, photos and relay batons, will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on 19 November.

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Steve McQueen: Artist’s 600 billboards of London pupils

Year Three class photograph on billboards

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Theo Christelis

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One of three London billboards featuring Year 3 schoolchildren

A major outdoor art exhibition by an Oscar-winning artist has gone on display on billboards across London.

Turner Prize-winner and film-maker Steve McQueen’s billboards show class photographs of thousands of children from the capital’s schools.

The 613 posters across London’s 33 boroughs, featuring Year 3 pupils, celebrates the idea of citizenship and reflects the diversity of London.

McQueen said the project was inspired 21 years ago after he became a father.

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Steve McQueen

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Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (pictured fifth left in the middle row) as a seven-year-old pupil at Little Ealing Primary School in 1977

“My hope is that through the billboards, millions of Londoners can reflect on the past, the present and the future not only of themselves but of their city,” he said.

“I am very excited that this portrait of London will be seen by so many people as part of their daily life in this great city that I love.”

Some 76,000 children, two thirds of London’s Year 3 pupils, were photographed for the accompanying exhibition at Tate Britain.

The Tate said: “Year 3 is considered a milestone year in a child’s development and sense of identity, when seven-and eight-year-olds become more conscious of a much bigger world beyond their immediate family.

“Steve McQueen’s project captures this moment of excitement, anticipation and hope through the medium of the traditional class photograph, with rows of smiling children sitting or standing alongside their teachers.”

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Theo Christelis

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Billboard with a photograph of a Year Three class

McQueen was born in London in 1969 and after becoming a renowned artist, he went on to make films Hunger, Shame, Widows and the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave.

When he started the project McQueen said: “When you first start education, things start to change. When you start being aware of gender, when you start being aware of race. When you start being aware of class.

“When those things come into your psyche – it can actually change your thoughts forever.”

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BBC London

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McQueen had invited all Year 3 pupils in London to take part in the project

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On why he chose to express his vision via the traditional school photograph, McQueen said: “The school photo is very formal. Kids are standing or sitting crossed legged with the teacher on the side.

“I used to love that format – and it’s a photo that reflects on that class, the school and also reflects on society.

“So a message that can be so local – when moulded with the other photographs – can become global.”

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