Roger Alton

Roger Alton

Roger Alton is a former editor of the Observer and the Independent. He writes the Spectator Sport column.

Rugby could be derailed by its head injury problem

Anyone who thought Gavin Henson, perma-tanned Welsh rugby three-quarter and one-time escort of Charlotte Church, was just an overhyped glamour boy should think again. He has revealed himself as one of more than 200 former players, including several Test players, involved in legal action against World Rugby and the English and Welsh unions, claiming levels

How Vegas became a sporting hotspot

Anyone know the Hindi for schadenfreude? Who could have seen that coming: certainly not your correspondent, who had invested some time ago in India to win the Cricket World Cup. Not to be, sadly, and the red-hot favourites were given an absolute pasting in their own backyard by a team of unfancied Aussies who had

English cricket doesn’t travel well 

It’s a tricky old time for cricket. The collapse of England’s World Cup white-ballers – and how they have managed to run up the white flag with quite such aplomb – is one of the great sporting mysteries of our time. One day they are the best in the world and hot favourites; the next

Simone Biles is in a league of her own 

Has there ever been an athlete, male or female, quite like Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time? She is like something from another planet, so out of this world are the body-bending tricks she can accomplish on the floor, vault and bars. These are incomprehensible feats of agility, strength and grace, which were

Will the US catch the birdie at the Ryder Cup? 

At last the Ryder Cup is here – well, in Rome – and with it Europe’s biennial chance to stick it to the Americans in a sport that matters in a format that we can all relate to. Even if you regard golfers as extremely well-off people largely determined to make themselves better off, the

Novak Djokovic, the man who won’t go away

‘What are you still doing here?’ joked Daniil Medvedev to Novak Djokovic after their US Open tennis final – a lung-busting baseline slugfest featuring jaw-dropping athleticism and brilliant shot-making – had ended in a straight sets win for the Serb. It was his 24th Grand Slam victory. There’s no sign that Djokovic wants to slow

England’s rugby World Cup has disaster written all over it

England’s preparation for the upcoming rugby World Cup is beginning to look like a slow-motion car crash, after two pathetic performances against Wales. Those of a betting disposition might want to bung a bit on Argentina muscling England aside when they meet in their first pool encounter on 9 September. The Pumas aren’t world beaters,

Stuart Broad would make a great politician

And they said Test cricket was in its death throes! This epic, attention-grabbing, emotion-wringing Ashes series ended in the last minutes of the last hour of the last session of the last day of the last match: who could ask for more? England have had a number of very good captains since Mike Brearley took

Cricket, tennis and the Women’s World Cup: what a summer 

Great sport needs great rivalries, and that is why anyone with a pulse must celebrate being in the throes of an unrivalled confluence of extraordinary sporting occasions right now. As commentators grind on about what a bad place the world is in – ignoring the far worse places the world has been in over the

If you thought Lord’s was rowdy, get ready for Leeds

Shouldn’t we all just calm down a bit after Lord’s? Once prime ministers decide to intervene, you know things have gone too far. Rishi Sunak has made it clear he wouldn’t want to win a match that way apparently, which feels very much like Tony Blair’s decision to wade into the case of Corrie’s jailed

Why we all need an Ollie Robinson

It’s a long way from Edgbaston to Karachi, but that’s where my thoughts were turning after Australia’s last-gasp victory in an unbearably tense, always thrilling, wonderful Ashes Test on Tuesday. Ominously for England, Australia’s three best batsmen, and the three best in the world, misfired simultaneously over five days. But they still managed to win.

Football bosses must carry the can for players’ bad behaviour

If you couldn’t watch the Europa League final between Sevilla and Roma, then you should count yourself fortunate. It was a nasty, bitter and forgettable excursion, blighted by fouls and time-wasting, that should make anyone connected with it ashamed, apart from the doughty English referee Anthony Taylor, who had a fairly good game. But for

Is Uefa just useless – or is it worse than that?

It’s not clear how many readers of this journal will be affected, but anyone planning a stag weekend in Prague ought to steer clear of the first week of June. That’s when the city hosts the Uefa Conference League final at the 20,000-capacity Eden Arena, home to Slavia Prague. The finalists are West Ham –

Harry Kane is many things – but he’s not a leader

What’s not to love about David de Gea? Manchester United’s goalkeeper might appear to have it all: a humongous salary, a lovely family, a sensationally beautiful wife, Edurne Garcia, who is a star in her own right in Spain, and a pleasing ability to behave like a complete berk. He is a mix of utter

Football’s growing shame

It would take a brave man to pick a fight with Roy Keane, and nobody could quarrel with his view of Liverpool’s Scotland fullback Andy Robertson after a skirmish at Anfield. Robertson appeared to be feebly elbowed in the face as he approached linesman Constantine Hatzidakis at half time. The Scotland captain reacted in the

In praise of Sharron Davies

It’s been quite a while since we celebrated any of Sharron Davies’s considerable achievements in the pool – well, a bronze and a silver in 1990 at Auckland was the last time – but I would bet a box full of brand-new Speedos to a secondhand pair of goggles that nothing has made her prouder

What’s going wrong with English rugby

Rejoice, as you don’t normally say after a hammering like the peerless French dished out to England at Twickenham. But looking on the bright side, at last English rugby knows its place, and it’s not pretty. The consensus in the hospitality lounges appeared to be that it was all Eddie Jones’s fault, though that feels